by Karen Weiland, Advanced Master Gardener
While artificial Christmas trees can be dismantled and stored in a box until next year, a live Christmas tree will need to be disposed of somehow. Don’t know what to do with that tree? Recycle it! If you have used a live tree this Christmas, take the time to give it another use. Live trees are biodegradable, which means they can be easily reused or recycled.
I like to erect my tree in the backyard near the bird feeder. It provides a sheltered place for birds to wait for their turn at the feeder. Decorate the tree with strung popcorn and cranberries. Arrange slices of apples, oranges and leftover breads in the tree. Pine cones slathered with peanut butter then rolled in birdseed and tied to the tree provides a tasty treat for our feathered friends. I like to nestle these treats to the inside of the tree where they are less likely to be covered in snow.
Most Counties have free drop-off locations or have curbside pickup to recycle your tree. First remove all of the decorating debris and then when dropping off the tree do not leave it in the plastic bag if you are using one. The composting facilities will take live (no artificial) trees, garland and wreath greenery (no metal or wire) 7 days a week during daylight hours. Some of the composting facilities in the area are; LaGrange Co., CR 75N, east side of the 4-H Fairgrounds, Steuben Co., Angola, CR 175N, adjacent to the 4-H Fairgrounds, DeKalb Co., northwest of Auburn on Co. Rd. 36, Noble Co., Kendallville, on Wayne St. across from the waste water treatment facility and in Sturgis, MI, south side of Fawn River Road between S. Lakeview Avenue and S. Nottawa Street. According to their website the Sturgis site is open the first two Saturdays in January to accept Christmas trees. If you have any questions for the composting facility personnel at NISWMD you can reach them at 1-800-777-5462 or visit their website at www.niswmd.org . NISWMD stands for Northern Indiana Solid Waste Management District.
Another recycling idea is to sink the tree into a private pond. They make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish. In shallow wetlands, discarded Christmas trees can act as barriers to sand and soil erosion. The boughs can be cut off and used like a blanket on top of perennials that may be marginally hardy in our area or that are susceptible to windburn.
With so many options there is no reason not to recycle your tree.
More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.
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