How to Grow: Recycling Christmas Trees

Learn ways to use your holiday tree to help your garden, birds and even fish after the holidays.

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Well, the egg nog is gone, the leftovers still fill the refrigerator and there’s that nasty stain on your rug from Uncle Joe’s spilled wine that needs attending. And yes, there’s the holiday tree. If you purchased one of the more than 30 million live Christmas trees sold this year, you’re probably wondering what to do with it now that the festivities are over. You certainly can bring it to a recycling center for chipping or chip it up yourself to make mulch for your garden. But there are other creative things you can do with your tree.Christmas Tree, Fir, Lights, Street, Christmas Mood

Christmas tree boughs make great insulating covers for perennial flowers and small shrubs. Cut them off the trunk and lay them over these plants. The boughs will also help collect snow which is another excellent insulator. In coastal towns from New Jersey to Alabama, live Christmas trees are used to help rebuild dunes. Trees are laid end to end against prevailing winds on the dune line. They collect sand and eventually get buried. Not only do they hold the dunes in place, they provide habitat for small animals. We don’t have many dunes in Vermont, but you can also leave your tree on the woods edge for squirrels, rabbits and other small creatures to use as shelter in winter.

Speaking of animals, consider spreading peanut butter on branches or pine cones and cover the peanut butter with bird seed. Leave the tree on the deck or patio as a natural feeder. Even fish like Christmas trees. When you can crack a hole in your pond ice, sink the tree in the pond to provide food and habitat for fish. If you have other creative ways to use your old tree, send me an email. I’d love to hear them.

And now for this week’s tip, for icy steps and walkways consider alternatives to traditional deicers. Try spreading kitty litter, sand, calcium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate instead. These are much easier on the lawn and plants.

From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio

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