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The holiday season is almost over and cut trees have begun to dry out and must be disposed of. Each year, as many as 90 percent of cut trees are recycled. Most are chipped and turned into mulch. Others are submerged in ponds to create fish habitats or to prevent shoreline erosion.
The artificial trees are being packed away in their boxes for another year, but real Christmas trees can provide many good things way past their lives in lights and living rooms. Christmas tree recycling ideas and community programs give your Christmas tree a second chance to be useful after the tinsel has come down.
Before recycling, Christmas trees can be used to make beautiful trellises and winter bird feeders. Prop the tree up in a corner of the yard as a trellis for next year’s peas or beans. To create a bird feeder, place the tree in its stand in the garden and “decorate” a second time with orange slices, suet and seed, or popcorn strings (use unsalted corn). Backyard birds will come for the food and stay for the shelter in the branches.
Homeowners with ponds on their property might find that rather than create a haven for the birds, they’d like to make a home for the fish. Sunk into private fishponds, Christmas trees make an excellent shaded refuge, hiding place, and feeding area for fish, and also create a great fishing spot for anglers. Real Christmas trees are biodegradable, and will only add to the underwater environment. (Artificial ones are not, and should not be recycled in the same way.)
To create this underwater wonderland, tie several discarded trees together in loose groups of two to four. Be sure to remove all traces of ornaments, hooks and tinsel from the trees, and weight the trees so they stay in place. Weights can either be tied on or trees can be set in a bucket of cement. With the help of a friend, place the trees in three to ten feet of water, and if the pond is large enough, at different depths to ensure that, as seasons and temperatures change, the fish will continue to use them. Too many trees in the pond will cause fish to scatter, so limit the number to one or two per acre of water.
Recycled Christmas trees are great additions to your own ponds, but may not be welcome in public waters. Some public lakes have restrictions against this type of tree recycling, so check with local lake managers before trying this in public lakes or rivers.
If you’d rather keep your tree on land, consider using the trunk and branches as mulch for gardens, yards, or in animal stalls. Cut off the boughs and place them on the ground like a blanket to protect plants that are susceptible to windburn. The mulch provides a protective barrier for the roots of shrubs, trees and flowers while preventing weeds from growing. The mulch then decomposes, providing the nutrients plants need to thrive.
After you remove all the decorations, lights, stand, and tinsel from your family's cut holiday tree, give it another life with recycling. Trees will be accepted for recycling at the following locations between December 26 and January 18:
* Buncombe County Landfill
* Memorial Stadium (behind McCormick Field)
* Asheville city residents may place Christmas trees at the curb for recycling.
(Image provided by Buncombe County.)