Consider ‘treecycling’ instead of trashing the Christmas tree

DES MOINES — Some Iowa families have a tradition of taking down the Christmas tree on Sunday, the last day of the year, in order to start the new year out fresh on Monday.

Horticulturist and extension educator John Fech says don’t just toss the tree to the curb, but find a way to repurpose it.

“Recycling it, reusing it, thinking of it again as a resource or an asset,” Fech says. If you’re crafty, trim the branches to make a fragrant sachet, wreath, or garland to enjoy in the weeks ahead.

You could also cut up pieces of the evergreen to toss in a nearby lake or pond to provide a habitat for fish. Fech says mulching is another option.

“Do that yourself with a hatchet or you could have it run through a chipper,” Fech says. “Many of the cities do that for their parks and then they use that for trail cover around city parks and hospitals and places like that.”

Another idea is to return the tree to the great outdoors for wildlife to use as shelter. He likes to call it tree-cycling.

“Also, it could just be songbird habitat,” Fech says. “Set it near the bird feeder so birds have a place to get out of the wind and have a little bit of refuge from predator birds.”

If mulching the entire tree is too much work, just using the needles can be an effective mulch on perennial plants, in your garden, and to keep weeds in check.