Mountain View, California (PressExposure) January 13, 2010 -- That once fresh live Christmas tree has served its purpose, giving holiday cheer to the home and providing a place for Santa to leave gifts, but now that it's stripped bare and drying, it can serve another end: offering shelter for fish in lakes and ponds or fertilizing gardens and lawns. If yours was fresh-cut, consider recycling it.
One of the best things you can do is to give it to the birds. Winter birds appreciate the cover of a tree, especially if decorated with bird food ornaments. Simply tie the tree to a stake or post to prevent it from blowing away in winter winds. Placing the tree on its side and scatter birdseed around it is also effective. Just be sure to remove any Christmas decorations, especially tinsel, which can hurt birds if they eat them.
Be advised â This is a commitment: Once birds get used to feeding at a spot, they will return to feed for the rest of the winter. So, itâs on you to replenish food should it run out. If not, the birds starve.
If a commitment-phobe, bestow your tree to your flowerbeds. Cut up the branches and use them as winter mulch on perennial flowerbeds. Place evergreen boughs on top of low growing plants for protection, especially in late winter, when freezing and thawing of the soil heaves shallow-rooted perennials out of the ground.
Other branches can be dispensed to an artsy type of winter display. For a project that involves the kids, put the branches in a large container near your door or porch. Add other greenery and decorations, such as barberry, cones, dried grasses, berries and seedpods. There you go- a home-made piece of art.
For you advanced tree recyclers: Why not aim to recycle multiple trees? Ask your neighbors for their real christmas trees and make temporary windbreaks to shield tender evergreens like rhododendrons. This can work if there's already a fence, stakes or post nearby that you can tie the trees to.
Another good choice is to send it to the chipper. Many towns have fresh-cut Christmas tree recycling programs where trees are chipped up to make mulch for parks or to give back to homeowners. Sometimes trees can be picked up curbside. Other towns have drop-off locations.
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