Now that the holidays are over, ornaments have been removed from trees, greens used on stair railings and in centerpieces collected, and roping removed from doorways. Instead of sending them to a landfill, we can use them in the landscape.
Give the tree to the birds.
Leave it in its stand or tie it to a post for birds to use as shelter from harsh weather and predators. Be sure to remove all bits of tinsel, lights and ornament hangers first. Then go one step further – make it a birdie bed and breakfast! Add strings of popcorn, stale pieces of bread and cranberries. If you saved some sunflower heads from the summer garden, hang them from branches. Orange slices and pine cones frosted with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed will also be appreciated by hungry birds.
Cover any fall-planted perennials or plants prone to frost heaving with boughs.
Perennials planted in the fall may need a little extra protection to get them through their first winter. Perennials, like coral bells (Heuchera), foamflowers (Tiarella), blanket flowers (Gaillardia) and Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum), are sometimes heaved out of the soil by freezing and thawing soil. Their roots are then exposed to and damaged by drying winds and cold temperatures.
If you have access to a chipper, turn your Christmas tree into mulch for the landscape. Don’t have a chipper? Cut the tree into pieces. Save the trunk and large branches for plant supports, garden edging or firewood in your backyard fire pit. (Never burn them inside.) Add the smallest pieces to the compost bin.
Use loose needles, branch tips, small pine cones and cinnamon sticks to make potpourri. Get even fancier and add dried fruit, nutmeg, whole cloves and anything else you might have around that smells yummy!
At the very least, find out about recycling programs in your community.
Check their schedule for Christmas tree collection, inquire when mulch will be available for pick up, and then use it throughout the landscape to mulch around trees and shrubs and in perennial borders.
The more we consider the value of Christmas trees beyond the holidays, the fewer will end up in landfills. You may even find yourself driving around your community picking up discarded trees from your neighbors. So grab your greens and garden with me!
Do you have any other ideas on using Christmas trees or greens in the landscape?