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Don’t trash it! Recycle your Christmas tree

Before you haul your Christmas tree out to trash day, take a look at these other options to give your tree a second life in the garden.

Before you haul your Christmas tree out to trash day, take a look at these other options to give your tree a second life in the garden.

Mulch it baby

A layer of pine needles around your garden bed can be a great way to add insulation during the winter months. Simply snip off a few of the smaller branches and place them around the plants you wish to protect. The needles will also break down and slowly add more nutrients to the soil over time. The tree trunk can be broken down using a wood chipper. If you don’t have one on hand, consider asking a local landscaper or see if your city provides this service.

Become a compost queen (or king)

If you have a compost pile started in the backyard, you can add pine needles and some of the smaller branches to the stash. Don’t add pieces that are too big or it won’t break down with the rest of the pile. Instead consider stripping the needles from the branches using heavy duty leather gloves and break some of the thinner branches into smaller pieces.

Here pretty bird

Animal lovers might consider making an impromptu bird stand out of an old tree. Remove all decorations and anything that might be hazardous to birds and relocate the tree in its stand to an area outside. If you have a bird feeder, place the tree nearby so it can act as shelter.

You can also hang treats like apples smeared with peanut butter, oranges, popcorn strung together, or bird seed ornaments. Just make sure you are attracting the right kinds of critters. If you have a problem with pesky raccoons, squirrels, or deer, you might just want to stick to bird seed to avoid any unwanted visitors.

Recycle with the city

Don’t leave your tree out for regular trash pickup. Most cities and towns have tree recycling programs where they either pick them up curbside or have specific drop-off locations for residents. Don’t want to get your hands dirty by hauling it out to a recylcing center? Some local non-profits like the Boy Scouts offer tree pickup services for a small donation. Contact your local municipal office or Boy Scout troop for more information.

But wait…there’s more

Whatever you do, don’t attempt to chop up your Christmas tree for firewood. It’s possible that the evergreen needles can deposit a highly flammable substance called creosote in your chimney, which can cause damage. Plus, unless the logs have been dried out for a really long time (at least a year), the wet wood can cause sparks and popping and potentially cause a fire– totally not a pleasant way to end the holidays.

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