Tuesday, January 13, 2015

10 Ideas for Recycling Your Christmas Tree in the Garden

Photo courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/dbtelford/
Your Christmas tree is biodegradable and recyclable, so don't put it out with the trash ... reuse it in your garden!  Here are ten ideas after you've removed all the baubles, tinsel and hooks:

1) Place your Christmas tree, in its stand, near an existing bird feeder to provide protective cover for our feathered friends. Or make the tree into a naturalistic feeding station, hanging feeders, suet, fresh orange slices, peanut butter pine cones or strung popcorn from the branches. The birds will come for the food and stay for the shelter. 

2) Use evergreen boughs to insulate planting beds where perennial flowers, strawberries, parsley, carrots, pansies, etc., are trying to survive the winter.  The limbs can also act as a sunscreen and windscreen for broadleaf evergreens like boxwood, hollies, and rhododendrons. Be sure to remove limbs in the spring after the danger of severe weather has passed.

3) In spring when the Christmas tree limbs have lost their needles, use the bare stems to stake peas and vining vegetables, or perennials like delphiniums and peonies that need a little extra support.

4) Use the Christmas tree trunk (stripped of its limbs) as edging in a garden bed.

5) Use a chipper to shred the branches into mulch or a natural path material.  If you don't have a chipper, ask a local garden center or municipality to shred it for you and take the mulch home.

6) Start a new compost pile with a layer of thin Christmas tree branches. The branches allow airflow at the bottom and will break down over time as you continue adding kitchen scraps and other compostables.

7) Saw the trunk into small logs to burn in your outdoor fire pit. (Don't burn them in the fireplace because evergreens cause creosote buildup.)

8) Strip the branches of their needles and store them in a brown paper bag, which helps keep their aroma, and use the needles to make aromatic sachets or potpourri to enjoy the rest of the year.

9) Transition into spring by creating window boxes using Christmas tree branches cut to size. Add birch twigs, boxwood, preserved moss and sugar pine cones to fill in and add texture.

10) Create an eco-friendly alternative to rock salt by using Christmas tree boughs on your walkway. During a January thaw, let the boughs freeze into the ice for good traction and a pleasant scent... but leave your boots at the door so you don't bring sap into the house.

Kathleen Connally
Master Gardener Coordinator
Penn State Extension
Bucks County, PA

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