Well Christmas is over, time to take down the tree and drag it out to the curb, OR you could make better use of it through recycling in a multitude of ways. Your town may have a tree pick-up service which comes around on pre-determined days and hauls off Christmas trees, most likely depositing them at the local mulch pile or recycling center. However, if your town does not offer that service, listed below are some options for putting your old tree to good use.
- Tree branch bird feeders: Remember coating an evergreen cone in peanut butter and rolling it in birdseed as an elementary school project? The same method can be applied to branches trimmed off of your Christmas tree, and similarly to the cone, they are organic and will decompose naturally when the birds are done with it.
- Garden infrastructure: Limbs can be used in and around your garden as compost, mulch, borders and even to train vines. Needles make great mulch, they retain moisture while still allowing airflow.
- Wildlife habitat: The trunk, limbs or even the whole tree can be viable wildlife habitat. Many animals seek out dead trees to make nests or use as cover. Branches can be sunk into fish ponds to provide hiding or spawning areas.
- Goat grub: Have or know someone with goats? They are the world’s best live vacuums, goats will gobble up your old Christmas tree in a matter of minutes.
- Erosion control: Many erosion control products are made from natural materials that are meant to keep soils in place while a vegetative community develops, the control materials slowly decompose leaving in place mature, stabilizing vegetation. Tree limbs and trunks can be used for these purposes; they can be staked into shorelines of ponds, streams and near the ocean to help stem sedimentation into vital water bodies.
- Donation: If you have the means to transport your tree there may be a local mulch or recycling service at which you can drop it off for disposal.
- Trail maintenance: Many places will line hiking trails with discarded trunks and limbs of trees, check with your local garden club or parks department to see if they have the need.
- Living tree: Next year consider buying a potted or root-balled tree, with proper care this tree can be planted out in your yard come spring and be the Christmas gift that kept on giving.
A couple of noteworthy items regarding Christmas tree recycling:
- Remember to remove all ornaments, lights and tinsel; decorations do not contribute anything healthy to your landscape and can pose danger to wildlife,
- Don’t burn your tree in a fireplace or wood stove; evergreen trees contain relatively large amounts of turpenoids which can contribute to creosote buildup in your chimney and increase the risk of a fire.