The benefits of natural Christmas trees are numerous, and there are ways you can get more out of a tree than just its decorative value, so let’s get into them before you send that holiday staple to the curb for trash day.
Epic Gardening’s Kevin Espiritu (@epicgardening) recently demonstrated a few ways to repurpose your evergreen when it has outlasted its stay indoors.
Espiritu wrote that he prefers a live tree “ONLY because I make use of it in multiple ways in the garden after the holidays are over.”
But despite the fact that you have to cut it down, a live tree is a much better holiday decor choice than a fake tree. Tree farms plant one to three seeds for every tree harvested, and patronizing such businesses helps “keep their lands covered in the healthy forest habitat that wildlife depends on to survive,” according to The Nature Conservancy.
Don’t forget about that au naturel smell, either. The perfume of a freshly cut evergreen is one of this author’s favorite things about the holidays, and it lasts for months. The trek to the tree farm — and felling experience if you cut down the tree yourself — with your family or friends is another plus that can’t be matched by going the route of an artificial tree.
Fake trees, on the other hand, are usually made of plastic and include endocrine-disrupting phthalates and toxic lead. They also need to be shipped around the world — 90% of the 10 million faux trees bought in the United States each year are from China.
When it’s time to take down your tree, you can first turn the branches into mulch. As Espiritu showed, strip the boughs, cut them, and place them in containers, raised beds, and other places in your garden.
He noted the acidity of the needles is not a problem, writing, “They’re totally fine to use as mulch.”
The next step is to get your trellis. Cut the trunk about a foot from the bottom, where it thins out, to use it for your favorite climbing plants. Dig a hole, set the trunk in the ground, and plant your goodies — Espiritu named peas and beans — right next to it.
Lastly, the base of the trunk can be used as a pollinator hotel. Drill deep holes in the bottom and lay it in an active part of the garden, near a source of water.
“You just might see some beneficial insects make it a home over the coming season,” Espiritu wrote.
“My mind was just blown,” one commenter said.
Another user wrote: “I love to reuse, recycle and repurpose !! Wonderful for the environment !!!”
If you don’t have a garden or would rather watch your tree be reused than reuse it yourself, one fun option is to employ a tree cleanup crew. This group of goats will even do it for free.
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