Recycle that tree

Published 5:30 pm Friday, December 25, 2009

Instead of piling used Christmas trees alongside the road on Dec. 26, turn trees into recycled natural products.

“Once a tree has been harvested and the Christmas season is over, the trunk and branches can be used as mulch for gardens, parks or in animal stalls,” said Michael May, who owns Lazy Acres Christmas Tree Farm in Chunky, Miss. “The mulch provides a protective barrier for plant roots, prevents weed growth and adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.”

Turning a tree into these materials can be completed at tree recycling centers if the task is too large to do at home. The closest Christmas tree recycling center to Selma is in Wetumpka, according to the Southern Christmas Tree Association.

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Christmas trees are environmentally friendly items. “They’re cleaning up the atmosphere every day,” said Check Stevens of Stephens Industries in Autauga. “And, you’ve got a renewable resource.” Stephens has grown Christmas trees on 30 to 40 acres of his land since 1954.

Matthew Chappell, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has found that Christmas trees still have many uses far after Dec. 25. Chappell has composed a list of things to do with live Christmas trees after Christmas Day.

He suggests making a bottle tree by cutting all the braches about one foot from the trunk and put wine bottles on them or making a fish habitat by dropping three or four trees together in a pond because small fish can use the space to hide from larger fish, as well as use for breeding grounds.

Trees can be chopped for wood or mulch, replanted as a landscape addition or a vine pole to support growing vines, or turned into a bird pole to hold feeders, but be sure to cut the lower branches because otherwise the birdseed will be eaten by other animals.

More inventive ideas for Christmas trees post Christmas are to use them as a walking stick by whittling the trunk, turning the trunk into a coat rack leaving several sturdy branches at the top, or even making a longbow for hunting.