Turn your Christmas Tree into a Landscape Asset

By Melinda Myers - horticulturist and gardening expert
December 26, 2017

Once your holiday celebrations have passed and the decorations go back into storage, it is time to deal with your real Christmas tree. Don’t drag it to the curb to be hauled away by the trash collectors.  Give it a second, even third life, in your landscape. No live Christmas tree?  Don’t worry!  I’m sure your friends and neighbors will share theirs.

Move your cut Christmas tree outdoors after the holidays. Use it as a windbreak or for added shade to prevent drying of  tender evergreens. Strategically place your discarded tree on the windward side rhododendron, boxwood, and needled or broadleaf evergreens subject to winter burn. Place it on the south side of these plants to shade them from the drying winter sun.

Christmas tree branches as mulch

Those in colder climates can remove the branches and use them as winter mulch over bulbs and perennials. Layer the boughs over the plants and frozen soil to keep the soil consistently cold. This reduces the risk of early sprouting and winter damage that can occur during winter thaws.

Or set the tree in the landscape for a bit of added greenery. Secure it in a snow pile or use stakes and guy wires if the soil is not frozen. Then add a bit of food for your feathered visitors. Decorate the trees with fruits, berries, and seeds the birds can enjoy. Stringing cranberries and popcorn is a fun family activity and makes an attractive outdoor garland. Slices of oranges on colorful yarn and homemade bird ornaments can complete the adornments. The birds will enjoy the added food and shelter and you will enjoy watching these visitors to your landscape.

Christmas tree with fruit for the birds

Don’t overlook all those needles that landed on the floor. Sweep them up and use them as mulch in the garden. Place them directly on the soil or on top of the snow. As the snow melts, the needles will be right where they belong. And don’t worry they will not make the soil too acidic.  In fact, as they break down they will add organic matter to the soil.

As spring arrives consider chipping and shredding your tree into mulch for trees and shrubs or pathways in the landscape. No chipper? You and your neighbors may want to rent a chipper to shred these and other pruning’s for use as mulch in your landscapes.

And, if this is not possible, check for recycling resources in your community. Many municipalities have special pickups for Christmas trees. These are chipped, shredded and made available for citizens to use in their landscapes.

And once you discover the value of this free resource you may find yourself collecting a few more from the neighborhood.  Although, if your family is like mine, they may ask that you wait until dark to drag your treasures back home.