Every year, 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States. And the debate continues as to whether it is more sustainable to buy a real tree or a fake one. Fake trees can be used year after year, while a real tree is cut down, can only be used once, and then thrown away. So why would anyone want to cut down more trees?
Most real Christmas trees are grown on farms, like crops, for the specific purpose of being harvested as Christmas trees. Every time a real Christmas tree is bought, a new one is replanted on the farm. Very few Christmas trees are removed from federal forests, and those that are removed are strictly regulated by the U.S. Forest Service.
Real trees are more durable because they are biodegradable, unlike plastic trees that fill up landfills and cause more harm than good to the environment. In addition, Christmas tree farms offer many of the same benefits as community trees and forests: they clean the air and water, remove carbon, stabilize the soil, etc.
Another advantage of a real Christmas tree is the different ways it can be recycled at the end of the season. Many communities offer free Christmas tree recycling and make mulch, compost and wood chips from the trees.
Here are 8 ways to reuse your Christmas tree long after the season is over.
Since most conifers are high sap trees, they are more efficient for firewood when used outdoors. Sap is flammable and creosote build-up can be a threat when used indoors. Conifers tend to burn quickly and hot, making them ideal for bonfires.
Note: Trees containing sap should be dried for a few months before being cut or burned to avoid disorder and uncontrolled fire.
The most common use for your tree is to make mulch or compost. Whether you use wood chips or needles, mulch is a great way to keep the trees in your yard healthy and moist during the cold winter season. Pine needles are full of nutrients that improve the PH of your soil if it is more alkaline and allow your soil to breathe without becoming dense and compacted. Be sure to water your pine needles and mix them well in your compost pile.
Look at this: Ask an arborist: Why is mulch used?
3. Hinterland Who’s Who
The tree does not have to be alive for wildlife to take over. Hang bird feeders to attract birds and watch your tree become a bird sanctuary. Other creatures will soon follow as they nest in the tree’s branches.
4. Fish Feeder
When trees are abandoned and left in the water, they become a thriving reserve for fish. The weight of the tree acts as an anchor, and over time, algae begin to form on the tree, feeding the fish and protecting them from predators. Check with local authorities to see if you can drop your tree in a nearby lake or pond.
5. Split your garden
After burning the wood from your tree, collect the ashes and scatter them over your garden. Wood ashes contain potassium and lime (among other nutrients), which help plants grow, or mix the ashes with compost. Ashes are also useful for repelling insects. Don’t confuse wood ash with charcoal ash, charcoal ash does not offer the same benefits.
Read: How to create a garden that stands out around your house
6. Isolate your garden
Cut the branches of your tree and put them on your garden bed, the branches will protect your plants from winter frosts and spring thaws. By placing them on your garden, you give your plants a constant temperature for the coldest months. The branches also work well as a garden border.
If the needles on your tree are still green, strip the tree and store the needles in paper bags or sachets to use as deodorants. The needles will retain their smell and refresh your home throughout the year.
It doesn’t take a craftsman to cut the trunk into a one-inch wood coaster. They are attractive, practical and protect your wooden tables from water damage. Be sure to let the tree dry completely before cutting it (otherwise the wood will crack) and varnish the coasters before using them.
If you don’t need to recycle your living tree for domestic use, look for a local recycling program that will recycle your tree. Many communities have recycling/reuse programs and offer curbside collections. Living trees are biodegradable, so no matter how they are used after the vacations, they are sure to benefit the environment.