We finally had an opportunity to specify and utilize black locust on one of our projects. We’ve been itching to use this sustainable and locally-sourced material for many years. Black Locust is a native North American tree that grows like a weed, colonizing disturbed site with abandon. A common tree along agricultural wind breaks, successional forest edges and urban areas, black locust is a fast-growing tree in the legume family that fixes nitrogen, repairing depleted and unhealthy soils. It produces large, purple flower panicles in the late Spring, which bees love and provide a great source of honey during that time of year. Additionally, Black Locust is one of our hardest, densest and heaviest woods that is incredibly rot-resistant. Able to withstand decomposition even when Placed in the soil as a fence post, it will stand for decades. When freshly milled, Black Locust has a bright yellow color, which fades to a silver/gray when exposed to UV rays over time. The wood does not require any treatment to withstand rotting, but it is recommended to apply a wax-sealer to the exposed ends of the wood in order to prevent further water-absorption, desiccation, twisting and checking. Although the wood is fairly stable, it is brittle and will warp slightly in some instances, making it best-suited for rougher and more rustic carpentry applications. The density of the wood requires that all screws be pre-drilled, adding a fair amount of labor to the installation process. However, once the Locust structure has been erected, it will remain standing for decades.
We specified this material to be used in several carpentry applications on our Carroll Gardens project, including for the back yard perimeter fence, a wooden deck, vine-trellis and waste-storage bin. Check out some of the construction progress images on the project.