Master Gardener: Keep Christmas trees in use after the holidays

Published: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 16:41 PM.

Trimmed branches can also be used in compost bins, but remember that smaller branches break down more quickly than large ones, so consider cutting each limb into 6-8” pieces or smaller. This also applies to other living greenery decorations from your home. Another option is to have trees chipped or shredded to use as mulch around landscape trees or shrubs. If you cannot compost at home, consider donating your tree to be composted offsite. Many solid waste services will recycle old trees either free of charge or for a small fee if dropped off at convenience sites. Check with your local solid waste service agency and ask about convenience sites and the dates when trees will be collected.

Get creative

There are some very creative ways to reuse that old tree. By cutting branches and sticking them in the ground in such a way that forms a picket fence, you can protect your landscape trees and shrubs from drying winter winds. Old Christmas trees can also be used as a trellis system for your summer garden plants like runner beans or peas. Planted densely enough, the vines will cover the entire skeleton of the tree and can serve as a useful, sustainable, and attractive display for your home garden.

One thing that you should NOT do however is to burn Christmas trees in fireplaces. The highly flammable resin inside a dry tree will explode into flames when added to a fire. Burning trees also deposits resin in the chimneys and over time, build of resin can present a fire hazard.

Just because you are done with your tree does not mean it has no use! Recycling your old tree can have many benefits for your home garden and wildlife, so before tossing it to the curb consider giving your tree a second chance this year by recycling it. For the environmentally- and economically-minded gardener, recycling a tree is just one more way you can save money and help ensure a greener 2014.


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