Jan 14

How to Dispose of the Christmas Tree

Christmas TreeMany neighborhoods have a trash service that will take away a Christmas tree with zero hassles. For those who can go this route, excellent. But there are times when that’s not an option. In that case, there are several simple alternative ways to solve the problem.

Method #1 Chopping

If you have a chainsaw, electric or gas, it takes only a minute or two to chop a dried Christmas tree into small pieces. Since most Christmas trees are pine, fir or spruce, the fragments make good gardening material. Spread them around the garden and work them into the soil.

Take care not to leave the parts above ground unless you have a means for dealing with beetles and other insects. Carpenter ants and termites love fresh wood to bore into and they’re happy to move into your home when they’re done. Also, have a plan for dealing with the needles. They’re acidic so they can alter the pH of your soil, causing moss to grow rapidly. That can be good or bad, depending on your needs.

Method #2 Burning

If you have a wood stove or wood-burning fireplace, burning the tree can have a number of beneficial effects. It requires less chopping than method #1 and it can add a lovely smell to the home.

But there are a couple of things to watch out for.

A Christmas tree after the holidays may be dry enough to shed a lot of needles, but it will still be pretty green by wood burning standards. Be prepared for a little extra smoke. Ensure your chimney flue works well. Also, a low heat fire will produce more ash and chemicals that layer the inside of your chimney.

Those problems can be easily overcome by adding a little fireplace cleaner to the fire. These small sticks (usually copper sulfate) prevent any tarry compounds, like creosote, from cooling and depositing onto the inside of your chimney.

Method #3 Ponds

Some homeowners have a large fish pond in the yard. Christmas trees make for good ‘houses’ for fish. The branches provide a place for shy creatures to hide. Ensure that the needles don’t alter the pH of the water excessively by adding it a small section at a time, with minimal amounts of needles.

Method #4 Donate

Even when a trash service won’t pick up your tree, some charities will. In rare cases, they can still use the tree as a decoration. In some cases, they are acting as part of a community mulching effort. The trees are collected then used as in method #1. In most cases, they are simply engaged in recycling efforts as part of a heartfelt cause.

Whatever their motives, they will often pick up the tree for no cost or a nominal fee. The money is used to cover expenses such as gasoline and disposal fees where they deliver the tree. You can solve your problem and donate to a worthy cause at the same time. That’s the classic definition of a win-win scenario.

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