What to do with your old Christmas tree

Trees waiting to be claimed at a California Christmas tree farm. (Photo: Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm)

Trees waiting to be claimed at a California Christmas tree farm. (Photo: Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm)

In his book, Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches?, birding enthusiast Mike O’Connor suggests that folks who purchase real Christmas trees place them along the fence in their backyard once Christmas is over to provide shelter this winter for local birds.

That got me thinking — what else could you do with that tree (other than throw it away or turn it into firewood)?

There are all kinds of suggestions floating out there on the Internet. Most assume that you have a backyard or at least a garden to call your own, but a few are helpful even for those of us in condo land.

Among the most popular:

  • Use some of the pine needles to create sachets to freshen up your house
  • Trim off the top two feet of your tree and prop it up in your yard to create a squirrel feeder/playground
  • Create a bird sanctuary by placing your tree in its stand out in your yard. Hang your bird feeders from its branches or decorate them with pinecones smeared with peanut butter and dipped in bird seed
  • Use the needles as mulch for your garden
  • Cut off the smaller boughs and lay them over your perennial beds to insulate them against winter weather
  • Trim the trunk and larger branches into two-inch discs and use them to edge the borders of your flower beds

(Yeah. That last one seems kind of work-intensive to me too. But if you do it, send me pics. I’d love to see it.)

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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2 Responses to What to do with your old Christmas tree

  1. rayworth1973 says:

    I pack ours for next year. I’d rather kill trees by buying books. That’s paper books….


    • Shala Howell says:

      This year, like most years, we’ll be packing ours up for long-term storage in the basement too. The local nature center (and Daddyo) lobbied fairly intensely for us to buy a locally farmed tree this year instead of using our old fake one, but as we already owned a fake tree, it seemed like the lower impact choice to keep on using it. (Also, Daddyo abruptly became much less enthused about a 9 foot tree once he realized he would have to carry it up four flights of stairs to get it into our condo). Fakery ruled the season for us, but I still thought this was worth a post for those of my friends lucky enough to both have natural trees and backyards in which to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner.


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