Happy New Year!
What is your New Year’s resolution? Is it to lose some weight, perhaps stay in touch with family and friends better…
…or maybe to be more green?
If so, you might be wondering whether there are any ways to repurpose or recycle your old Christmas tree.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do so. You just have to get a little bit creative!
Here are some of the best ideas I came across.
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16 Ideas for What to Do With Your Old Christmas Greenery
This is by far one of the easiest ways to get rid of your greenery. Whether you’re trying to toss your old Christmas tree or want to know how to get rid of your Christmas wreath, recycling is probably the quickest way to dispose of your greenery.
However, you do unfortunately need to live in an area that offers this service.
In some cases, you might be able to find a curbside recycling pickup in your area that also picks up discarded trees. These sometimes have limitations on size, though, so keep that in mind if you decked a behemoth this year.
You can also take your tree to a recycling center. This is a good option if your neighborhood does not pick up trees. You will want to check with your county for drop-off locations. This is a nice option because in most cases, recycled trees can be reused as mulch.
Chop it Up for Firewood
If you have a fire pit or outdoor fireplace, chopping your old tree up for firewood is a great option. It will make the Christmas spirit burn a little longer into the new year, that’s for sure!
A word of caution, though – don’t burn your old tree in an indoor fireplace. Creosote, a chemical found in the trees, can accumulate and cause fires to burn quickly and hotly, sending off sparks that present a fire hazard.
You already read about how your neighborhood recycling program can make your Christmas tree and greenery disappear fast – into mulch, that is. But did you know that you can also make your own?
You don’t need a fancy wood chipper or any equipment like that, either (although if you have one, that definitely helps). All you need is a set of shears or hand pruners. You can then clip away the smallest branches with the best tool you have, spreading the pieces around your yard as you go.
Don’t feel the need to remove the needles, either. As these fall off and break down, they will help your soil retain moisture and boost its acidity.
When in doubt …compost it out?
Sure, we’ll go with that.
Composting is a good way to make use of your Christmas greenery, but you won’t want to compost an entire tree all at once (it will take forever).
Instead, use just a layer of thin evergreen branches as the base for a new compost pile. This will allow some airflow at the bottom of the pile, since the branches will gradually decompose over time. Stack them about six inches high.
Avoid adding pieces of your wreaths, trees, or kissing balls that are super dense or woody – these will take quite some time to break down and aren’t really worth your while.
Create DIY Edging
You can even make edging out of your old Christmas greenery. This works best on Christmas trees with dense trunks. You should cut the trunk into one- or two- inch discs and then you can use the pieces to line your walkways. Small branches can also be used.
They won’t last forever, but they will last long enough to give your landscape some serious visual appeal!
Protect Your Perennials
An old Christmas wreath can breathe new life into the perennials in your garden.
All you need to do is lay out the branches beneath your perennial plants (obviously, this is best done before planting). This will protect the plants from frost and will also make an excellent mulch, protecting the plants from sun and wind alike.
Boost Your Backyard Pond
Have a backyard pond or aquaponics system? If so, you may be able to use your tree to improve fish habitat. As woody plant tissue breaks down, a whole bunch of beneficial nutrients are created for the water. In addition, certain creatures, like small insects, crayfish, and snails, will populate and find habitat in the tree – these populations then attract small fish that feed on those creatures.
All you need to do is sink your tree. Here’s some more information on how to do this and the benefits of sinking a tree to boost aquatic life.
Create a Trellis
Plan on growing some kind of vining plant this year? There are hundreds of plants, from ornamental vines to green beans, that require some kind of staking in the garden. If you don’t want to reduce your tree to a pile of compost, maybe you should consider stripping the needles to create a trellis for your vines to climb up.
In some cases, you may be able to replant your Christmas tree. All you need to do is re-establish the tree in a pot of soil. The roots often take, even when they were originally chopped off. Here’s some information that might help you as you get started. It’s a challenge, but one you might want to consider taking.
Develop Valuable Animal Habitat
There are all kinds of animals who will take shelter from fallen trees – and an old Christmas tree definitely falls into that category. Drag your tree to a corner of your lawn or best yet, deep into the woods. There, animals like rabbits will take shelter from the branches during prolonged periods of rain, wind, or snow.
Make a Bird Feeder
Do you like to feed the birds? You can easily make a bird feeder in your old Christmas tree. Start by positioning your tree in a heavy, durable container that won’t tip over. Then,decorate the branches with foods like pine cones, popcorn, suet cakes, apples, or oranges. The birds will enjoy munching as they perch on the branches of the tree.
There’s nothing quite like the smell of a Christmas tree – especially when you blend that scent with other smells! You can make your own potpourri by coming a few branches along with some other flavorful items, like cloves, cinnamon sticks, or cranberries.
Whack off a section of the tree stump and then place it in a heat-proof bowl. Add water to the halfway point before scattering your other scent-making ingredients in the water. Put the mixture in a warm place, like atop a radiator cover or a stove warmer, and as the water warms up, the lovely scent will fill the home. You can use it indefinitely, but you may need to heat it backup or add more water every few days.
Feed It to Livestock
There are some animals that may be willing to clean up your Christmas tree for you. The needles of some trees can provide valuable antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals. Be careful about feeding your tree to certain animals, like cattle, and avoid feeding certain tree species like pine and yew. Otherwise, sheep, goats, and chickens all might benefit from the occasional tree-nibble!
Repurpose It Into Decorations
There are plenty of decorations you can make with your old Christmas trees, wreaths, kissing balls, or other decorations. Make a rustic candle holder or even some ornaments. There are plenty of options.
Here are some ideas.
Look for a Dune Restoration Program
Natural Christmas trees can be used to rebuild dunes in coastal communities. This one might not be worth the effort if you, like myself, live in an area far from any coastal area.
However, Christmas trees can be used to repair damage to sand dunes caused by winds and foot traffic, preventing erosion and preserving the environmental health of the beach. Check to see if your area has one of these programs!
Worst case scenario, you may be able to bring back the tree after Christmas to the place where you purchased it. If you cut your own at home, obviously, this isn’t an option. But if that’s not the case, check with your tree farm. Sometimes sellers will take the trees back, usually to do one of the tasks we already mentioned above.
Real Christmas Greens Are More Environmentally Friendly!
The question of whether real or artificial Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly is a tale as old as time. One might say it’s…evergreen?
When it comes to Christmas trees, wreaths, kissing balls, whatever it is – I will always maintain that real Christmas products are more environmentally friendly.
This study, as referenced by the New York Times and many other publications, evinced that natural trees are much better for the environment. Not only are the annual carbon emissions associated with using a real tree every year about a third of what was created by an artificial tree over a six year lifespan (which is the average when it comes to keeping artificial trees), but they also produce carcinogens during both their manufacturing and disposal.
Plus, plastic Christmas trees, wreaths, and other products aren’t going to break down in landfills, while real products can be repurposed for other eco-friendly purposes (like mulch). Most Christmas trees are grown on farms that are specifically for this purpose, so you aren’t degrading any animal habitat by purchasing a real tree, either.
Long story short – you’re not doing any harm by cutting down and using (and even disposing of!) a real Christmas tree.
Especially not when you engage in one of these methods of disposing of it!
What do you think – what other ways do you have of getting rid of your Christmas trees, wreaths, and other greens? Let me know in the comments!
Want to learn more about homesteading? Be sure to check out these articles!
- 12 Reasons Why Sheep Are the Coolest Livestock You Can Raise
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Lambing (But Didn’t Want to Ask!)
- 12 Common Hoof Problems in Sheep
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