Ten Ways to Recycle Christmas Trees

When the holidays are over, here are ten uses for your Christmas tree you may not have thought of.


| November/December 1990



126-014-01-im1

Boughs can make beautiful Twelfth Night decorations, and can afterwards be used to protect perennial beds from winter freezes.


PHOTO: FPG/PETER GRIDLEY

In 1842, a German named Charles Minnegerode introduced the custom of decorating trees at Christmas in Williamsburg, Virginia. The tree, bedecked with strings of popcorn, gilded nuts and luminous candles, was described as "splendidly decorated." Today, millions of Americans carry on this tradition by bringing Christmas trees into their homes, adding an element of splendor and festivity to their own celebrations.

Unfortunately, once the parties are over and the season has passed, the once-splendid tree transforms into the living-room behemoth, and the job of disrobing it of its trimmings and tossing it carelessly outside becomes just one more household chore. Before you follow this unfortunate holiday tradition, take heed. There are several ways to extend the life of your Christmas tree.

1. Living Christmas trees that come with their roots intact can, of course, be planted and enjoyed for many years. Pack the earth ball containing the roots in a bucket with sawdust, peat, potting soil or other mulch. Keep the soil continually moist. Plant outdoors as soon as possible after Christmas. To find out if your climate merits keeping a living tree, consult with your local nursery.

2. A whole Christmas tree makes an excellent bird feeder for your backyard. Stick the tree in the ground or leave it in its stand. A wide variety of birds will be attracted by suet, cranberry and popcorn strings, stale bread and dried chopped fruit in mesh bags. If you grow sunflower seeds, simply hang the whole sunflower head on the tree. Your family will discover that chickadees, song sparrows, cardinals and a host of other birds come for the food and stay for the shelter.

3. Cut off all the branches and use the trunk to edge a garden. The trunk can also be strategically placed in your garden as a resting spot for birds, squirrels and other little critters.

4. Place the whole evergreen boughs on perennial beds or nursery rows to protect them from winter freezes and spring thaws. The boughs provide the steady temperatures that most plants need. Or just use the boughs as post-Christmas house decorations.





dairy goat

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Aug. 5-6, 2017
Albany, Ore.

Discover a dazzling array of workshops and lectures designed to get you further down the path to independence and self-reliance.

LEARN MORE