The New Year’s resolutions have been made and new gardens have been planned but what to do with that lovely Christmas tree that is turning brown and losing needles in the corner of the family room?
The SoilKit® office chose to take our office tree out to the 256 Woerner family farm and placed the tree in front of a brim feeder in our pond. My brother, Allen, also disposed of his family’s Christmas tree at the farm too. Algae will grow on the trees, giving baby fish something to eat and providing cover for the fry. This will increase the chances the fish will grow to adulthood providing fish for us to catch or feast to the resident Bald Eagle. Natural Resources and Bureau of Land Management officials near Carlyle Lake in Illinois and Lake Havasu, in Arizona round-up trees each year to help refurbish reefs that provide food and shelter for species such as sunfish, bluegill, and bass. I encourage you to find a similar program near you and dispose of your Christmas tree in a sustainable way.
Communities all over the U.S. have other ways of recycling Christmas trees that are beneficial to the environment.
For more than four decades, Alabama’s Gulf State Park has been organizing a yearly drop-off for Christmas Trees (they collect through the end of January every year!), and then come spring, volunteers lay out the trees in ways that promote dune structures for local beaches. All of this hard work has paid off, and naturalists with the state park recorded less dune erosion after Hurricane Sally than they did sixteen years ago following Hurricane Ivan. Dune restoration projects that use Christmas trees are popular along the Gulf and east coasts.
Cities a little more inland, such as Daphne/Spanish Fort AL and Sonoma, CA, take dropped-off trees to composting sites or chip them up for mulch for spring gardens. Mulching and composting your tree is great for the soil and helps keep organic matter out of landfills so everything breaks down the way nature intended! Plus, most communities that mulch the Christmas trees will provide their resident’s mulch for their gardens free of charge, especially to those who donated their trees; with the continued rise in fertilizer prices, every little bit helps.
If you aren’t ready to part with your tree just yet, you can move it to a porch or outdoor area, and redecorate it as a Mardi Gras tree or Valentine’s Day tree! Really, really attached to your tree? Consider planting a variety of pine or spruce that grows in your grow zone, if you are able to, in native soils (start with a soil test!), or in a large pot that can be moved both inside and outdoors. Our Project Administrator, Morgan Cahn, grew up with a Norfolk Island pine that lived in a pot that her family used for a Christmas tree for more than a decade.
The most important thing to remember before you take your tree to be recycled, mulched, or be made into a reef, make sure you take off all lights and ornaments (even the homemade cranberry and popcorn strings!). Most programs will have a designated drop-off area, day of the week to put on the curb for pick-up, and some non-profit organizations have even offered pick-up.
How are you disposing of your tree this year? Show us a photo or video of you responsibly disposing of your tree and tag us on social media!