Once the gifts are torn open and the turkey leftovers have been packed up, it’ll be time to think about stripping off your holiday decorations and hauling your Christmas tree to the curb. But wait! Instead of dumping it at the end of your driveway, why not recycle that tree in your garden? Here are a few easy ways to do it:
For the birds
Prop up your tree in the front or backyard to provide a fantastic bird sanctuary. Food sources are scarce during the winter, so load up the branches with suet, pinecones smeared with peanut butter, or leftover popcorn and cranberry garlands. Hang up mesh bags filled with bread crusts and fresh fruit. Chickadees, cardinals and sparrows will flock to your buffet, and then stay for the shelter! Don’t want to keep the whole tree? Use one of the largest pieces of wood to make a birdhouse – drill a hole in the trunk, and another smaller one to insert a wooden perch to create a cozy hideaway.
Cutting edge paths and bridges
If you’re handy with a saw, cut the branches off your tree, and then use the trunk to create handrails for a small bridge in your garden – perhaps one that crosses a water feature. You can also create a piece of art from different sized logs, or cut the trunk into smaller pieces to edge your flowerbeds or pathways. Evergreen boughs can be layered over perennials to protect them from winter wind and ice. In the spring, use the twigs to stake tender plants or as part of a trellis.
Any way you slice it
While you’ve got the saw in hand, cut about a dozen one-inch-thick disks from large branches. Sand them, and then seal with polyurethane. Use as coasters or as plant markers in the spring.
Beef up your compost pile
Use small branches to start up a new compost pile. Stack them about seven inches high, and keep adding layers of food scraps, newspaper and leaves.
Rent a wood chipper (see if your neighbors want to chip in) and grind up your Christmas tree to use as mulch in the spring. Layering mulch will improve the nutrients in your soil, keep weeds down and conserve moisture. Pine needles, which dry super-quickly, make terrific mulch, too, so strip those off the branches and scatter them in the garden.
Tell us how you’ve recycled your Christmas tree!
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