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How to Recycle Your Tree After the Holidays

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Posted by Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM® on Dec 18, 2019 9:29:00 AM

The holiday festivities are over, all of the presents have been opened, the meals have been eaten, and a once beautiful Christmas tree is wearing out its welcome. Now what? As the National Christmas Tree Association points out, if you have a real Christmas tree, it is biodegradable. The most common ways to recycle to a Christmas tree are to leave it on the curb for recycling pickup or chop it up for yard waste pickup, but there are some great alternatives.

Recycle Tree GM

Let's take a look at some options for recycling an old tree so it can be put to good use.

What Can Be Done with a Full Tree? 

Relocate the tree to the back yard. A potted Christmas tree is an ideal candidate for this option, as you can successfully replant it in the back yard under certain conditions. A cut tree, on the other hand, can still be useful as a habitat for birds and other critters. Just leave the tree in its stand, or burry it upright like you would a fencepost.

Turn your tree into mulch. Natural mulch is beneficial for gardens because it provides ground cover and keeps the soil moist. Over time it will decompose, giving the soil more nutrients.

Find a drop-off site. If you don't have a wood chipper or the yard space to keep a full Christmas tree, find out about your city's local tree drop-off sites. Depending on the drop site, your tree may be made into mulch or used for a variety of other purposes such as helping curb seashore erosion or creating fish habitats in lakes.

How Can You Recycle the Branches?

Branches can be used as ground cover. With a simple pair of shears or clippers, entire branches can be used to create ground cover for year-round plants that need a little extra warmth during the winter months.

Start a new compost pile. According to The Spruce, branches make an excellent base for any new compost pile. The space created between the ground and the compost items allows for better airflow, which is essential for the composting process. Eventually, the branches will break down with the rest of the pile.

Pine needles can be used as mulch. Even if you don't have a wood chipper, trimming the branches or simple shaking off the dead pine needles can create a bit of mulching for your garden.

Branches can be used as a trellis. Some vines, such as pea plants, need surfaces to crawl up for best growth. Tree branches can be stuck into the ground and bound together in a criss-cross pattern to create a trellis for vines.

What Are Some Uses for the Trunk?

Use the trunk as garden edging. Keep the tree trunk entirely intact, cut in half down the length, or cut it into smaller stumps to make a rustic barrier around your garden.

Make coasters and stepping stones. Popular Mechanics suggests that if you cut the tree trunk into small disks, the narrow portions of the trunk can be made into coasters, while the wider portions can be made into stepping stones for a garden walkway. Be sure to dry, sand, and seal the wood slices so they don't leak sap.

Tree trunks can also be cut down for firewood. If you live in a rural area where it is safe to do so, adding an entire tree to a bonfire is a beautiful sight and smells delightful. If not, simply cut the trunk into small logs for your fireplace.

How About Trying Something Artistic?

Make an assortment of crafts. If the pine needles are still green, there are a lot of options for some crafty uses. Martha Stewart shares some interesting tutorials on how to create wreaths, garland, and even little reindeer figures, all with recycled branches.

Practice wood carving or wood burning. Pine is an excellent wood for using for woodcrafts, just cut the trunk into smaller portions, or keep it whole for a larger wood sculpture.

As part of the services offered at RealManage, we are dedicated to helping HOA's and Condominium Associations go green in economical and viable ways. Contact us today if you would like to learn more about what we can do for your community.

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Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM®

Duane McPherson, CMCA, PCAM®

Over 30 years experience in property and community association management Professional Community Association Manager through the Community Association Institute (CAI) Former GM/CEO of a large-scale association: mixed-use commercial, residential and recreational Contributor to National industry experience