By Ken Johnson
Once the Christmas holiday, or in some cases New year’s, is over the Christmas tree will need to come down. Instead of hauling off this year’s Christmas tree to the dump right away (or having the city pick it up) consider repurposing it in your yard. Before repurposing your tree make sure you get all of the ornaments and tinsel off of the tree.
One popular use for Christmas trees after the holidays is to use them to help feed birds. There are several ways you can do this. Trees can be put on the northwest side of feeders. This will provide a windbreak for birds as they feed and protect them from the wind. It can also prevent seed from blowing out of feeders. Trees can also be decorated and used as a food source and as a place of shelter. Trees can be anchored to the ground using a steel fence post and then decorated. Strings of popcorn and/or cranberries can be placed on the tree as well as pinecones smeared with peanut butter and sunflower seeds, suet, stale bread and chopped fruit in a mesh bag.
Christmas trees can also be used to create habitat for wildlife. Trees can be placed near field borders and in woodland areas along with other brush to provide cover for wildlife. An ideal brush pile is about 6 feet high and about 15 to 20 feet in diameter. If the brush pile is smaller than that, predators can often get into them. If they are larger than what is recommended, they lose some of their effectiveness. Trees can also be sunk in ponds to provide shelter for fish and other aquatic life. A single tree won’t provide much habitat so it’s best to group three or four trees together when sinking them. Trees should be sunk vertically with rocks or concrete blocks in no deeper than 10-12 feet of water.
Trees can also be used in the garden. Evergreen boughs (branches) and needles are commonly used as mulches to cover perennial plants during the winter. These mulches are light and won’t pack or suffocate roots of the plants they are protecting. If the branches are removed from the trunk the trunk can be used to edge a garden. Trees can also be chipped and used as mulch in the garden to help reduce weed problems, modify soil temperature and help to retain moisture.
Finally the needles can be used to make potpourri. Dry the branches and remove and crumble the needles. Needles can be mixed with cinnamon sticks and cloves, or used by themselves and placed in a jar to be enjoyed year round.