In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
January, 2007
Regional Report

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A Christmas tree will keep on giving if you recycle it.

Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

As you get ready to carefully take off the ornaments, remove the strands of lights, and put your Christmas decorations into dormancy for another year, keep in mind that your evergreen tree can literally keep on giving. With more than 33 million real Christmas trees sold in North America each year, tree recycling is a good way to give back to the environment. It makes good sense to recycle your tree and many municipalities have tree recycling programs ready to help you be ecologically friendly.

Some recycling programs have you place the undecorated tree along with normal curbside waste for pickup. Others have specific drop-off sites where the trees are collected, chipped, and made into mulch that's available in the spring. Contact your local recycling agency for more specific details and put the tree to work.

You, too, can recycle evergreen trees and wreaths for your landscape. The branches can be cut into smaller bundles to be used as a winter mulch for perennials that should remain dormant through the winter months. Small shrubs, ground covers, and grafted roses can also be mulched with evergreen branches. Evergreen boughs tend to knit together nicely to provide winter protection from wind, plus they help to retain moisture in the soil. Be sure to remove the boughs as the plants emerge from dormancy in the spring.

Wildlife, including birds and squirrels, will appreciate using the evergreen tree for cover in your backyard, especially if you decorate it with edible bird and squirrel food ornaments. You'll need to secure the trunk into the ground or to a post to keep the winter winds from carrying it down the street. A metal or wooden stake driven into the ground will work as a suitable support; tie the trunk of the Christmas tree with wire or twine to the stake.

Suet cakes, birdseed hangers, and molded seeds are readily available form bird supply stores. Hang them from the recycled Christmas tree and give wildlife a helping hand during the cold winter season. If you want to make some homemade bird and squirrel treats, here is a recipe:

Soft Peanut Butter Mix
1 cup suet
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour

Melt suet in saucepan. Add peanut butter, stirring until melted and well mixed. In a separate bowl, mix other two ingredients. After suet and peanut butter mixture has cooled slightly, mix in other ingredients. Place into suet feeders and allow to cool.


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