by Rick Vuyst
The holidays are over and you are now faced with a couple decisions: When do I get rid of the Christmas tree, and what do I do with it? This is an easy decision if the tree is synthetic; find the storage container and pack it away for another season. If it’s a live tree, you’ll need to take action sooner. Below are 9 ideas to ponder as you remove your holiday tree from your home.
1. Many cities and municipalities offer drop-off sites and, in some cases, pick-up service for your tree. This is a good choice because they have the equipment to recycle your tree into mulch and compost with heavy equipment. The mulch and compost is then used in parks as path material for hiking trails and other areas.
2. Here’s a thought for those of you with a crafty side: Cut the trunk into discs and convert them into coasters and trivets.
3. Snip the branches and store to use for staking plants.
4. Snip the branches and use as mulch in perennial beds in the landscape.
5. Position the tree upright in your outdoor landscape between January and April. The birds love it as shelter. You can encourage them by adding some suet or hanging a feeder near the tree. Orange slices or strung popcorn is another decorating option that feathered visitors will love. In the spring, cut up the tree and add it to the compost pile.
6. Cut the branches and use them as kindling for your outdoor fire pit. Do not burn them in an indoor fireplace or wood stove.
7. With the city’s permission, sink your tree in a pond or lake as a fish habitat. Make sure the tree is free of any ornaments, hooks, lights or other non-natural decorations.
8. Needles from the tree make great natural mulch for your landscape, especially for broad-leaf evergreen plants like rhododendron, azaleas and holly.
9. Save needles to use in potpourri and sachets. Evergreen scents have a clean, purifying effect on our senses and this is perfect for refreshing stuffy air during the winter season.
Once the tree is removed, fill the void by purchasing a nice foliage houseplant. A schefflera or ficus will motivate you to fill the space. It will also clean your indoor air in the next few months as we “plow” through the remaining winter season.
Pine Twig Potpourri
• Fill a 2-quart pot halfway with pine needles and twigs.
• Add rind from used lemon and an orange.
• Add spices of your choice (10 or so whole cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon stick).
• Add 2 cups of water.
• Place on a back burner of the stove on a very low or simmer setting.
• Enjoy the fragrance with a glass of bubbly and toast the New Year.
• Refresh the pine needles as desired.
• Drain potpourri mixture into a colander and set in a slightly warm oven or over a floor register to dry.
• Place dried mixture in a cute glass container.