The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of natural weathering in ground contact on biological resistance, modulus of rupture, and color stability of heat-treated alder wood. Chemical composition of weathered wood was also studied by FTIR-ATR spectra. Wood stakes were heated at 150, 180, and 200 degrees C for periods of 2, 6, and 10 hours, and the stakes were subsequently exposed to natural weathering and decay in a field area located in the north of Turkey for 3 years. The decay index of heat-treated stakes was lower than that of the controls. The weight loss prevention ratio had an increasing tendency with increasing treatment temperature and length of time. Depending on the treatment parameters, heat treatment reduced the modulus of rupture by up to 50%; however decay caused by soil micro-organisms gave rise to a greater loss of modulus of rupture than heat. Weathering processes caused remarkable color changes in the samples. FTIR-ATR spectra showed significant deformations and degradations in wood components, especially in the hemicelluloses of heat-treated samples. Degradation of hemicelluloses increased with an increase in heat temperature and exposure time.