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In the News

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Suzanne White

Now that the 2015 holiday season has come and gone, we are left with remnants of old traditions and new memories to file away into the archives. Some of us are even left with the now dark or naked tree that once stood prominently in our home and served as the center of family gathering and celebration for our enjoyment this year. The following is a compilation of ideas for what to do with that tree in a way that extends your enjoyment and the tree’s purpose. Artificial trees are easy to care for: disassemble and store in the attic or a closet for roughly 11 months. But if you had a real tree this year, what can you do with it now that the ornaments and lights are removed?

One of the most common uses for old trees is to sink them into a body of water to serve as a habitat for fish and water life, which provides shelter and food. This also serves as a great way to encourage fish to gather around a particular place, of which you are the only person who knows where and why the fish are consistently there. Impress fishing buddies and children alike with this fail proof fish hot spot! Note: if sinking a tree in moving water, tie a concrete block to the trunk first to encourage it to remain in your secret location.

Love wildlife, but aren’t necessarily the fishing type? Consider using your old tree as a habitat for critters in your yard instead of the water. Find an area where you can lay the tree flat. It will become a haven for animals throughout the time it takes for the tree to decompose.

Do you have a hole or ravine on your property that needs filling? Toss your tree into it to serve as an anchor for other filler/yard trash you have that will help to fill that void. If your hole is small-ish, cut the branches and/or tree trunk into smaller pieces before heaving it into the abyss.

While the first few suggestions are passive ways to extend the useful life of your tree, a more active way to repurpose it is to use it as a bird feeder. This involves carrying the tree to a prime viewing location (tree stand and all) and “decorating” it with peanut-butter-and-birdseed-covered pine cones. When this loses its appeal (or you meet your peanut butter budget), use the tree as bonfire fodder. Invite some friends and enjoy the spectacle of lighting the Christmas tree one final time. Then you can use the ashes as a soil additive.

Composting is always an option for dead/unwanted plant items. Christmas trees are no exception. For the simple way out, you can employ the same method listed above for creating a critter habitat in a place where you can add to your new compost pile and let nature take its course. Or for a faster method to gain some great compost, chop or clip your tree into small pieces before adding it to a compost bin or pile. Then keep adding items like usual and turning/watering when necessary until you have compost to use in your yard.

There are also a number of DIY projects you can research to create items for your home (or gifts for friends and family next Christmas!) Here are some of my favorites.

·        Slice the tree trunk to create natural drink coasters. Be sure the wood is completely dry to avoid splitting. Varnish and felt for the bottom are optional but help preserve the life of your coasters and furniture. Sliced tree trunk pieces can also become landscape edgers.

·        Use a piece of the tree trunk as a table centerpiece. Cut the trunk in half lengthwise to create a stable base, then choose what size and how many candles/tea lights to use and drill holes into the trunk to accommodate those candles. Be sure to allow extra room in order to remove existing candles.

·        Create crafts using tree branches. Remove all needles, smooth branches if necessary, then arrange into snowflakes or other shapes.

·        Use branches to arrange wreaths.

·        Create potpourri sachets with pine needles.

You are now armed with ideas to extend the usefulness of your Christmas tree. Of course, there are lots of other ideas on the world wide web, so find the project best for you and continue enjoying this past season for as many more as possible!