Whether you have a real or artificial Christmas tree, is all down to personal preference. However, for those of you who purchase a real tree, there is always the added problem of what to do with it once the Christmas season is over. According to Gov.uk, over 3 million real trees are purchased each year, that amounts to a lot of potential waste.
However the end of Christmas doesn’t have to mean the end of life for your real tree. All real trees are recyclable and most local authorities provide shredding facilities, where they can be chipped and used as mulch for parks, woodland and community borders. It’s also worth checking out other local organisations who may be offering recycling schemes, such as local conservation groups and charities.
For those of you who want to do something different with your old tree, then we have put together some useful recycling ideas for you to try.
It’s worth bearing in mind before you do anything with your tree, that even bare looking trees can still contain a lot of sticky sap, which can be quite messy. Plus the needles have had weeks to dry out in the warm indoor environment and can be very sharp. Wearing a good pair of thermal winter gardening gloves like the Skytec ARGON are ideal for keeping your hands warm and protected.
So let’s now take a look at our recycling ideas.
1. Make A Bird Feeder
Old Christmas trees make perfect bird feeders, the branches are excellent for hanging a whole variety of different foods from. This is a great one for children to get involved with, it’s creative, fun and provides them with the opportunity to decorate the tree all over again!
Here are some ideas on what to put on your feeder:
- Hang pine cones spread with peanut butter.
- Make suet balls and put in nets, which can be tied to branches.
- Hang fruit such as oranges, apples and pears.
- Scoop out the inside of an orange and use it as a cup. Fill it with nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
- Hang strings of peanuts and seeds.
- Create platforms where water bowls can be placed.
2. Pond Safety For Wildlife
Garden ponds can be a hazard to small garden animals such as hedgehogs, who can easily slip into the water while drinking and will very often have no way of getting out. Use part of the trunk as a ramp to enable wildlife to exit your pond. If you find pond maintenance during the winter months seems less than appealing, then wearing the right pair of gardening gloves will help make things lot more pleasant.
3. Reuse It and Cut Costs
The downside of having a real tree is the year on year expense. The best way to make a saving is to have a rooted tree, that can be used year after year, or certainly until it becomes too large to fit inside your home, or too difficult to handle. The tricky bit is keeping the tree alive and one of the major problems is the adaptation from the warm indoor environment to the cold outdoors. Christmas trees prefer the cold and will survive in some extreme conditions, therefore a huge strain is placed on a tree that is being kept in a centrally heated home. Your tree will have a greater chance of survival and living through to subsequent Christmases, if you do the following:
- Keep it well watered while indoors,
- Try to reduce heat exposure, by keeping it away from direct heat sources such as radiators. Also, don’t be too extravagant with lights, as these are also a source of heat.
- Reintroduce it to the outdoors gradually, if possible put it in a porch or somewhere sheltered at first, so that the tree doesn’t get overly shocked by the sudden change in temperature. Reverse procedure when taking it back indoors.
- If kept in a pot, it will most likely need repotting in order to allow for root expansion. The best time to do this is during the spring.
4. Plant Your Christmas Tree
If you don’t want to re-use your tree and it has roots, why not plant it and watch it grow. In years to come, you should have a beautiful mature tree.
5. Create Your Own Garden Mulch
Use the needles as a mulch for acid-loving plants, such as rhododendrons, beautiful blue hydrangeas and azaleas. It won’t take much effort to rid your tree of its needles, normally a good shake is all it needs. Placing them around the base of your plants, will add nutrients to the soil and help maintain the acid environment these plants love. If you have access to a shredder, then the whole tree can be made into wood chip mulch. Find a place where the chippings can be stored for a while, as they need to break down a little before being put around the base of your plants.
6. Plant Protection and Insulation
Chop off the branches and lay them around the base of plants and shrubs, creating a warm blanket, this will protect the roots in the winter and colder months. Some gardeners use them to detract local cats from using their borders as a toilet, especially useful around plants in your front garden, which tend to be more easily accessible to our feline friends. Have fun recycling and remember ‘a Christmas tree isn’t just for Christmas’.