With 4 different types of logs, leaves and planks, farming trees can be a great way to aquire large amounts of a specific tree block without having to travel to large distances to get to the right biome with the right trees. Farming trees will require you to only travel once, in order to get the right saplings.
A tree farm utilizes the way saplings grow and apply it to as small of an area as possible, in order to increase both the efficiency of land use and increase the harvests over time. By growing trees on a smaller plot of land, and potentially limiting the maximum size of trees, harvesting trees can become a walk in the park.
However, the type of tree you choose will impact the way we farm those trees, as not all the trees grow in the same manner.
You could also use bonemeal, which will instantly grow the saplings into trees, but using bonemeal usually means you don’t really need a farm, as you can simply plant, grow and cut the tree, one after the other. But using bonemeal could greatly speed up the harvesting process if you have a community farm on a server. By simply assigning 1 or 2 people to apply bonemeal and a small group of people to cut the trees down, huge amounts of logs can be aquired in no time.
Type of Tree
The type of tree you use will greatly impact the way we can farm them. Oak trees can be used on very compact farms, while pine, birch and jungle trees require more space. Large jungle trees require even more space, though their size is often a hassle when harvesting the tree, so small jungle trees are often prefereed.
Oak tree saplings can be planted next to each other in a full field and they’ll grow if there’s enough space, no matter if leaf blocks are above the sapling. The same is unfortunately not true for pine, birch and jungle trees, which require you to plant them with 2 blocks inbetween the saplings to allow them enough space to grow. This means only oaks can be grown on a very small plot of land, though even the other trees could potentially be grown in the same way, you just have to cut down every tree that grows.
No matter the type of tree you choose, all trees require light to grow, whether it’s underground or on the surface. This means we also need space for torches or other light sources.
When a tree grows, it can knock torches off of the walls, so it’s advised to use glowstone or other light emitting blocks as part of the walls to give the trees enough light. This is usually only required when you create oak farms though, as they’re very compact. Other tree saplings can simply be planted next to torches.
Another advantage glowstone and similar blocks have over torches is that they emit stronger light (15 versus 14 of torches), which means you don’t need to place less glowstone blocks than torches, which means there’s more room for saplings to grow.
However, keep in mind that trees will block light, both with their trunk and the leaves. This means saplings could be blocked from enough light to grow, so make sure you place the light sources quite low in the wall, below the leaves. Depending on the size of your farm, you may also want to place some torches/glowstone/etc in the middle of your farm, at the cost of a few saplings.
Saplings will need a light level of 8 or more to grow, which means they can be planted up to 6 blocks away from torches and up to 7 blocks away from glowstone/pumpkins/etc. However, because trees will block the light, it’s best to make your farm only about 7-11 blocks wide and place light emitting blocks on both sides, preferabbly as one long line to minimize the amount of light that gets blocked by grown trees.
As mentioned, oaks can grow through each other’s leaves, which means saplings can be planted next to each other. This doesn’t mean all saplings will turn into trees, but you do maximize the potential. Any sapling will grow if there’s enough space to grow, which is calculated by the amount of free blocks around the sapling. While wood blocks will obstruct growth, oak leaves don’t.
So theoretically we can simply fill a field with oak saplings and wait for them to grow. While this is true, this doesn’t give us the highest yield over time, as some saplings will not grow due to other trees blocking the light for those saplings. This means we have to alter our field to make sure all the saplings get as much light as possible.
By far the best and easiest method is by simply placing a row of torches, glowstone or other light emitting blocks around the saplings, but 1 block higher than the saplings to make sure the saplings next to the light sources do not block the light. As mentioned, torches are not the best option, as they emit less light and they can be knocked off by growing trees.
By only placing the glowstone blocks 1 block higher than the saplings, trees will still be able to grow. You could also place the glowstone a little higher, which will force the trees on the edges to become at least 3 or more blocks high (without exceeding their growth limit), but this is generally not wanted, as it can be a pain to harvest a large oak tree.
Birch,Jungle or Pine Farm
These 3 tree types grow the same, which means they could be grown together in the same plot, though it’s advised to create seperate farms for each type of tree.
As mentioned, these trees require more space to grow. These trees do consider leaf blocks to be an obstruction, which means they will not grow if a leaf block is in the way. This means saplings have to be placed at least 2 blocks apart from each other, which means your farm could become quite large.
However, it is perfectly fine to grow these trees in the same way we grow oak trees, but you’ll have to make sure to cut down the grown trees quite often. This will increase the land use efficiency, though the block yield will generally be lower than that of oaks, due to the growth restrictions.
Large Jungle Tree Farm
Large jungle trees are a great way to farm huge amounts of logs (up to 2 stacks per tree), but they require a lot of space to grow and an even larger setup is needed to farm these trees efficiently.
Jungle trees are grown by planting 4 saplings in a 2×2 grid on the ground. However, the North-Western most sapling required the other blocks next to it to be empty. So you essentially need a 3×3 grid per tree. Then there’s also the height of these jungle trees. Getting to the top can be quite a hassle.
What I do is build a large frame around the 3×3 grid where I planted the saplings. This frame will have ladders which allow me to climb up to 32 blocks, from which I can then jump to the tree. However, some jungle trees will be relatively small, though never enough to kill you from fall damage, if you have full health of course.
The frame will be a large, 7x7x32 block hollow frame. This allow the jungle tree to grow side branches through the openings and it makes building the frame less time consuming.
I also tend to build at least 4 of these frames, usually in a square. This allows me to grow multiple jungle trees and I won’t have to wait too long for the jungle trees to grow. If you create even more of these frames, waiting will barely be an issue. As trees will usually grow while you’re harvesting one tree.
It’s possible to restrict the height of trees by building a ceiling out of most solid blocks. This ceiling will prevent the saplings from growing as a large tree, but it will also increase the time it takes for all trees to grow, as a sapling that tried to grow as a large tree will have to restart the growing process.
The best ceiling is placed 9 blocks above the ground, which means trees will grow with trunks up to 6 blocks and 2 blocks of leaves on top of that. This will give you trees that can be harvested without having to climb onto higher blocks to get the top logs.
Note that not all blocks will block the tree, wooden planks and wool for example. Any stone block will do fine for the ceiling.
Force Minimum Height
It’s also possible to force trees to grow to at least a minimum height, which could be useful if you’re looking for bigger trees with more leaves. This is done by creating a few 3×3 rings around the saplings, floating in the air above it. The amount you use will set the minimum height of the tree, though remember that not all trees can grow to the same height. Birch trees are usually smaller than oak and pine trees and only oak trees have an enormous, 1×1 trunk version.