Recycling the christmas tree

There is a lake about a mile from my house, and every year right after the holidays someone’s Christmas tree is laid on the ice. The neighbors make bets on the day the ice melts enough for the tree to fall through. It then sits on the bottom of the lake where it becomes a refuge and feeding area for the fish.

R.J. Laverne is a master arborist for the Davey Tree Expert company in Ohio. He says another way to benefit nature is to put the tree out in the woods and stand it upright.

"Take some pine cones and smear them up with peanut butter, hang those from your used Christmas tree and let the birds and squirrels have a post-Christmas feast," says Laverne. "Come spring you can cut the branches off of the tree, and those will gradually decay into your forest ecosystem."

Lots of communities have Christmas tree recycling services. The trees are usually chipped up and become useful mulch for parks, trails, and other landscapes.

If you don’t have a recycling facility nearby, run the tree through a chipper, or cut it up into small pieces.

"You can always use a sharp bowsaw or arborist saw and carefully cut the branches off and cut the trunk up into smaller pieces, and essentially create your own mulch that then can be used around the base of your own landscape plants," he says.

 Christmas trees also make effective erosion barriers for lake and river shoreline stabilization. The branches and trunk help lessen the amount of sand and soil washed away by the water.

Laverne says one thing you do NOT want to do is feed a dry tree inch-by-inch into the fireplace. He knows of a guy who thought the fire would only consume what was going directly in the fireplace. The entire tree went up all at once - and the guy had a bad day.

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