The Beauty Of Driftwood


Driftwood is timber debris which has spent time in the water and then has been washed ashore by the action of the tides and weather. It can be found on beaches and on the shorelines of many rivers and lakes. The minerals in the water, salt and the exposure to the sun eventually bleach the driftwood and the material can also form into interesting shapes and become smooth at the edges. Driftwood has a natural beauty which makes it a popular material for use in decorative items, furniture, sculptures and as natural looking features in aquariums.


Driftwood can start its life as any form of timber. Branches and even entire trees can end up in the water after high winds, storms, landslides and as the result of logging. Much driftwood is actually sections of man-made objects such as crates, containers and wrecked ships in the ocean. The wood remains in the water being shaped and bleached until it is driven ashore by the forces of nature. It is often difficult to determine the exact origin of any piece of driftwood after it has been subjected to a buffeting from the elements.

Nuisance Factor

Although driftwood is highly prized by those who fashion furniture, decorative pieces and sculptures, large deposits on beaches are seen by some as a nuisance as the piles of wood can ruin the aesthetic of the shoreline and make the beach difficult to walk on. Large amounts of debris in the water can also be hazardous to boats and shipping as impacting the wood can cause serious damage to the vessels. Driftwood may sometimes be a nuisance but it is an important part of the marine eco system hosting aquatic life and sheltering birds on the shore.

Celebrity Driftwood

The most famous piece of driftwood in the world is probably the “Old Man of The Lake” at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. This 30ft (9m) tree trunk has been floating vertically in the lake since at least 1896 when it was first documented. The tree moves around the lake, sometimes quite rapidly, and so its exact location on any given day is unknown. The pilots of the boats which travel on the lake take care to warn each other of its location, if they make a sighting, in order to avoid collisions and to ensure that the visitors can see the lake’s most famous resident. Roughly 4 ft of the trunk is visible above the water and it is not known exactly why this hemlock tree has remained vertical in the water for over a century.

Driftwood for the Home

Nautical themed décor is highly popular at the moment and a coastal decorative scheme can be enhanced by the addition of some beautiful natural driftwood or beach decorations and furniture fashioned from the material. Driftwood furnishings are widely available and it is also possible to purchase single pieces of timber in interesting shapes to stand as sculptures in your rooms. For a personal touch why not collect your own unique pieces from the shoreline the next time you are on the coast?