FARGO, N.D. — If you were one of the millions of families that purchased a real Christmas tree, your tree might be headed out the door this week.
Before you put your tree out for garbage collection, let’s look at some ways to repurpose your Christmas tree instead of putting it in the landfill.
First, check to see if your city has a Christmas tree recycling program. If not, here are some additional repurposing ideas.
If you are feeding birds over the winter you can set up your real Christmas tree near your bird feeder. The tree will provide extra cover for the birds as they visit your feeder and it also will provide shelter during winter weather.
You can also repurpose your real Christmas tree as a second bird feeding station. You can hang additional feeders, like suet feeders or make it a family activity and create your own bird feeders.
A couple of ideas for do-it-yourself feeders are to coat pinecones with peanut butter and bird seed or pop some popcorn to make a string of garland and hang it on the tree. The same can be done with dried cranberries. If fruit was not the most popular item on your menu for holiday celebrations, you can slice apples and oranges and hang them on tree to help clean out fruit that is past its prime.
Remember to take the time to watch the birds that visit your new bird feeding station. It might be more entertaining that the TV, especially if Blue Jays or squirrels get involved!
If feeding birds isn’t your thing, there are other ways to repurpose your real Christmas tree. The branches can be cut and used as mulch in your flower beds to protect perennials from soil temperature changes during the winter and early spring.
If you are crafty, let the trunk dry down and then cut it into slices or what I refer to as “tree cookies”. No, you can’t eat them, but they will be handy for all sorts of crafts. An example would be to make the tree cookies into a snowman ornament for your tree next year.
Another option is to save the trunk and use it as a trellis support to grow vines. In the fall, the trunk should be dry enough to be cut and used as firewood for roasting marshmallows.
As the holiday season is just about over and we turn the calendar over to 2022, I wish you a Happy New Gardening Year!
— Carrie Knutson, NDSU Extension