Over 33 million real Christmas trees are sold in North America every year, and according to the National Christmas Tree Association, 93% of consumers who use real Christmas trees recycle them using some type of community program. Because the week following the New Year's Day holiday is traditionally the time when most Christmas trees are taken down, here are some post-holiday tips for prolonging your tree's usefulness.
Many communities now offer curbside pickup or drop-off sites for Christmas trees after the holidays. In some cases, the trees are run through a chipper and the woodchips are sold as mulch or used on local trails or in community gardens. In other cities, trees are picked up and used by local conservation groups to help prevent beach erosion or stabilize shorelines along local rivers and lakes.
(Source: National Christmas Tree Association) The number of tree recycling programs continues to grow each year, but unfortunately, many trees still end up in landfills. For information on Christmas tree recycling programs in your area, contact your public works department, local Christmas tree farm or visit http://www.christmastree.org/recycle.cfm and type in your zip code.
Turn your post-holiday tree into a winter sanctuary for backyard birds. Adorn the branches with seed and suet feeders, dried fruits, and peanut butter-coated pinecones rolled in birdseed to make a cozy winter birdfeeder. Prop up your tree by "planting" it into a snow bank or wiring it to a light post or nearby tree.
Another great way to re-use your Christmas tree is to use the boughs as winter mulch to protect your perennials. Remove the boughs from the tree and layer them loosely over plants so they trap the snow, or simply lay the entire tree on its side next to the plants. Acid-loving plants like rhododendrons and azaleas will appreciate the extra springtime boost they get from dropped needles.
Layer tree branches over the vegetable garden or exposed flower beds to help prevent soil erosion caused by harsh winter winds. Ask your neighbors for their trees. Place them upright in snow banks along your driveway or sidewalk to create a temporary seasonal windbreak.
In the spring, grind your tree down and you'll have ready-made mulch for your garden beds and walking paths, or add some woodchips to your compost pile.
If you have a backyard pond or own lakeshore property, consider using your tree to provide some fish-friendly habitat. Submerged trees provide fish with safe, natural cover for feeding and spawning.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.
Great ideas, but I have another.
I have a friend that raises goats and in the winter they love to eat green christmas trees. so he asks everyone in our little town to bring them to his yard intown and feeds them to his goats out on his ranch.
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