Posted by: Sherie Caffey, Horticulture Coordinator, CSU Extension-Pueblo County
I love the holiday season.
Everything from spending time with family, to making and enjoying holiday dishes, and of course decking the halls, makes me warm and fuzzy inside. If you are like me then you probably feel like the period of time after the holiday season has come to an end can feel a bit gloomy. This feeling is especially present when it is time to take down the Christmas tree. In recent years, however, the fact that I can recycle my Christmas tree so it does not end up rotting away in a landfill, brings me a bit of post-season joy. If you need to bust those January blues, here are some tips and suggestions for recycling your family’s Christmas tree.
One of the most popular, and easy, ways to recycle your Christmas tree is to check with your local City or County recycling agency. Many residential garbage collection companies offer curbside tree recycling pickup that goes right along with your normal trash service. Each company has its own times, dates, and requirements, so make sure you check with yours to see if you can get them to haul your spent tree away to a recycling service for you. Other areas may have tree drop off sites, like we do here in Pueblo. Typically trees dropped off at these sites are destined for the chipper, where they will become mulch. Here in Pueblo this Christmas tree mulch is given away free to the community around mid-January. It is first come first serve, and tends to go fast so make plans to pick up mulch early if you intend to do so. Check out this fact sheet for information on using mulch in your garden and landscape: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/mulches-for-home-grounds-7-214/.
You can also use the branches of your tree as mulch in your yard without making a trip to the chipper. Cut the large branches from your tree and lay them on top of your perennial planting beds. This will keep your plants from drying out as fast, and will also help to stabilize the temperature of your soil. This is a technique that is better suited for plants that need to stay dormant all winter. Once Spring arrives be sure to remove the boughs so your plants can properly come out of dormancy. At this time, you can chop the branches up and add them to your compost bin. The needles will provide a bit of acidity to your compost. For more information on composting yard waste visit this link: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/composting-yard-waste-7-212/.
There are also some “outside the box” kind of ideas for recycling your Christmas tree. You can create a bird haven by staking the tree up and tying bird seed balls to the branches. If your tree is modest in size, you can strip the branches (and use them to protect your perennials!) and use the trunk as a heavy duty tomato stake. If you use a fireplace at home, you can split the trunk and use it as firewood. Before trying this recycling option, read this article from Michigan State Extension on how to properly season and store your wood: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/tips_on_gathering_drying_and_storing_firewood.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to remove all decorations from your tree before recycling it. Hopefully this inspires you to feel good about the end of the holiday season this year. See you in 2017!!