Master Gardener: Keep Christmas trees in use after the holidays


Christmas trees and other living greenery can be composted for use in the garden next year.

Sam Marshall / Special to Topsail Advertiser
Published: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 04:41 PM.

The holidays have come and gone and soon you will begin the chore of taking down the decorations for the season. Of those tasks, none may be more disheartening or messier than removing your Christmas tree, which by now probably resembles a dried piece of kindling. If the last stop for your tree is usually on the curb with the empty gift boxes, consider a greener approach this year and recycle it!

Trees as wildlife habitat

One of the easiest and most effective ways to recycle a Christmas tree is to turn it into a home for wildlife. Winter can be a difficult time for overwintering songbirds as food and shelter become scarce. Consider placing your tree in the backyard or garden where the branches will provide nesting habitat and refuge from winter winds.

Another way to give wildlife a foot-up in the winter months is to hang fruit slices or strings of cranberries or raisins from the branches to serve as a food source for songbirds or small mammals. If you choose this option, make sure to place the tree well away from any permanent structures such as homes and sheds. Conifer resin is extremely flammable so avoid placing them near structures that could catch fire.

If you have a pond, consider placing the entire tree in the water, as tree skeletons provide shelter and structure many fish depend on for nesting. If you don’t have pond on your property consider seeking out hunting or fishing clubs that may accept trees to use for wildlife.

Trees as compost

Another option for recycling old trees is to trim branches from the main trunk and place them over your perennials for the winter. This will serve as an added layer of insulation during nights when temperatures dip below freezing. Over time, the limbs will breakdown and provide extra nutrients to plants. Layers of evergreen tree boughs also help slow the early flush of weeds in the spring.

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