Discarded Christmas trees by trash

There’s just something about having a live Christmas tree that seems natural and makes a house feel like the holidays. But at the end of the season, many people unceremoniously toss their tree in the trash to end up in the landfill. What a waste! Many cities do have tree recycling programs, and that is a better option; however there are also other ways you can put your tree to good use after the holidays. Keep reading to find out more.

Tips for Taking Down Your Tree

Before you do anything with your Christmas tree, you need to take it down. You should do this as soon as the season ends. The more your tree dries out, the more flammable it can become and pose a fire risk inside your home. It also sheds needles more when dried out, and can create a constant mess. Remove all ornaments and light strings and store them either in their original packaging, if you still have it, or in marked containers that will keep them organized, making next year’s decorating a little easier.

Cover the tree with a large plastic bag, sheet, or blanket before attempting to move it outside. This will help cut down on the mess pine needles can leave, on the way to the door. Remove the tree from the tree stand and carry the tree outside. Use a bucket to collect unused water from the tree stand and dump the water outside. Then clean out the tree stand with detergent and water, dry it and store it for next year.

Helpful Tip

Sweep up any pine needles with a broom and a dust pan. Some vacuums can be jammed up by excess amounts of pine needles.

Mulch Your Tree

You can use a wood chipper to mulch your Christmas tree for use in your garden or flower beds. If you don’t have a chipper, just reach out to your local True Value Hardware store to purchase or rent one. Collect the shredded tree pieces and spread them over the soil in your garden or beds by hand or by using a rake, if you have a large amount of square footage to cover.

Pine needles themselves decompose and add nutrients to the soil. Note that pine needles are acidic and work best with plants that like acidic soil. So either clear off as many of the needles as possible before shredding the tree or watch where you use the mulch. Some plants that like acidic soil are holly, gardenias, roses and chrysanthemums. In vegetable gardens, tomatoes, garlic and onions love more acidic soil. Pine needles are easy to spread on the ground and easily allow water, oxygen and other nutrients into the soil while insulating it from the cold. If you need to reduce their acidity, be sure to dry them out, first.

Use Your Tree as a Garden ‘Blanket’

You can use boughs from your Christmas tree like a blanket to provide cover and protection for your garden beds and shrubbery, during winter’s chill. Trim off limbs using a pruning saw. You can cover bushes, shrubs and other plants with the boughs or better yet, cover the ground around the plants to keep the soil warmer and retain moisture. The limbs will also eventually decompose and add more nutrients to your soil.

Use as Outdoor Firewood

You can use your Christmas tree for firewood. Use a chainsaw to trim away branches and to cut the trunk into pieces. You must let the wood dry out completely before using it as firewood. You can use the branches you removed as kindling, as well.

Safety Alert!

Use your recycled tree for outdoor firewood only. Do not use it in your indoor fireplace. The heated and burning sap in these types of trees can cause fumes that may lead to potentially dangerous buildup in your fireplace.

Use It in a Backyard Bird Habitat

You can create a small wildlife sanctuary or bird habitat with your tree. You can set the tree at the edge of a garden or near where you have installed bird feeders and watch birds, squirrels, and other animals shelter there. Add bird seed around the tree or sprinkle it on the boughs to better attract birds or other wildlife.

Recycle Your Tree

Check with your local municipality to see if it offers curbside tree pickup in January or for suggestions on how and where to dispose of your tree. Many areas also have drop-off locations for tree recycling. These locations shred the trees and use the pieces for mulch or for soil erosion initiatives, playground surfaces, etc.

That’s it! Now you know how to put your old Christmas tree to new use instead of letting it go to waste.

Project Shopping List

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