SEND YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE BACK TO THE
By Lisa Halvorsen
Garden Editor University of Vermont
Your Christmas tree doesn't have to meet
its end at the local landfill after the holidays. There
are many ways to recycle it.
Send your tree back to nature by composting
it. Shred the limbs finely and add them to the compost
pile to improve the soil in your garden. Just keep in
mind that it will take up to ten months for the material
to completely decompose. You can rent shredders although
they are useful during the growing season, too, so you
might want to buy one or share the cost with gardening
Or, if your community participates in
the Merry Mulch Project sponsored by the Vermont Agency
of Natural Resources and other cooperators, take your
tree to a designated drop-off site. Be sure to remove
the tinsel and decorations first. Call the toll-free
Vermont Recycling Hotline at 1-800-932-7100 for information.
Or check with your regional solid waste district to
find out where you can drop off your tree.
Evergreen needles are an ideal mulch for
shrubs and flowering plants. Or if snowfall is light,
limbs can be used to cover perennials.
Clip off a few limbs for accents in winter
floral arrangements or for mantle or table decorations.
Fresh pine or balsam needles also may be placed in sachets
and pot pourri containers for a pine scent that lingers
long past the holidays. Make a Christmas-scented pot
pourri by mixing equal amounts of balsam or pine needles,
bayberry leaves, and tiny pinecones with orrisroot,
a fixative that absorbs the scent. As a rule of thumb,
use two tablespoons of fixative per five or six cups
of dried materials. Add a few drops of a pine-scented
oil. You can find orrisroot and oils at herbal shops,
natural food co-ops, and many pharmacies and craft stores.
Another way to recycle your tree is to
stand it upright in a corner of your yard as a shelter
for wild birds. Decorate with strings of popcorn or
pour melted peanut butter and bird seed over the branches
to provide a food source for the birds throughout the
winter. Or place your tree on its side in a woodsy area
to serve as a hiding place for rabbits, moles, and other
A more traditional use for a Christmas
tree is as firewood. Cut the trunk into appropriate
lengths for burning in your wood stove or fireplace
and stack under a waterproof tarp, allowing for good
air circulation and proper drying. However, be aware
that blue spruce, pine, and other evergreen species
will burn hot and fast, and the resin will bubble and
pop as the wood burns.