Many people dread the day when Christmas is past and we have to take down our tree. Living rooms, shopping malls, and office building foyers are transformed from magical and festive back to their normal pre-holiday state. Many of those trees that are taken down are live pines, spruce or firs.
Where do all those once living trees end up?
According to “RecycleYour ChristmasTree.com”, 93% of live trees nationwide are recycled. The following are a few ideas for what to do with your Christmas tree after the lights and ornaments have come off.
Purdue Extension suggests recycling your Christmas tree as a bird feeder. Remove all the ornaments and lights from your tree and place it outside. You can hang edible ornaments from the branches to attract winter birds. Some things that birds will love are pieces of stale bread rolled in peanut butter and bird seed, strings of popcorn, pinecones rolled in peanut butter and bird seed, cakes made with suet and any other disposable bird feeder that can be found in stores. You will need to make sure the tree is secure so that it will not be knocked over by the wind or other creatures. You can use twine to secure the tree to something fixed in the ground or you can use twine and tent stakes to stake the tree in place. When your tree is dry, at the end of the season, it can be mulched.
Wood Chips or Mulch
Another option is to chip or mulch the tree. Ask around to see if any of your neighbors have a chipper you could borrow. You can use mulch around flower beds and larger wood chips in landscaping or play areas. Some communities also have locations that will chip your tree for you. Other communities have a service that will pick up your tree and chip it using the mulch and wood chips in community spaces such as parks. Pickyourownchristmastree.org Has an updated list by state and city for various community tree recycling programs. You can also call your garbage removal service. Some companies participate in tree recycling programs and will pick up your tree for you.
Some states have programs that use recycled Christmas trees for erosion control. Recycleyourchristmastree.com points to Louisiana as one of the pioneers of this sort of reuse. They collect used Christmas trees and place them in specialized fences along marshes to prevent the loss of the coastal wetlands. More that 600,000 trees have been used for this purpose.
Some tops or branches that have retained their needles well can be used in container arrangements. These arrangements of colorful twigs, dried berries and evergreens can be kept outside throughout the cold season. To find attractive outdoor containers visit NewPro Containers.
Tips for Next Year
It may be too late for this year, but next year use this tip from pickyourownchristmastree.org. Place a Christmas tree bag underneath your tree and cover it with a tree skirt. When you are ready to remove your tree simply pull the bag up over the tree and take it outside. You can remove the tree stand after the tree is outside. This will save your floors from being covered in needles and significantly cut down on clean-up.
You can also purchase a tree that still has a root ball in tact so that it can be planted outdoors when you are finished. It is important to plan ahead and dig your hole before the ground is too cold and firm. Trees planted in a milder climate have a better success rate.
Your Turn to Share
There are many ways Christmas trees can be repurposed to cut back on waste, reusing a valuable resource. Have you used any of the methods above? Have you done something different with your old Christmas tree?