The needles may be falling off, and there may be a stray strand of tinsel here and there, but that Christmas tree isn’t done working for you yet. Before you toss it on the curb, here are a few ideas for ways to recycle your Christmas tree in your garden.
Provide Shelter for Backyard Wildlife
You can leave the tree right in its stand and set it out in the yard for the rest of the winter. It can fill in a bare spot, giving you something pretty to look at, but, more importantly, it can provide winter shelter for birds. If you have plenty of trees around, consider laying your tree on its side to provide shelter for mammals such as rabbits.
Use the Branches to Mulch Perennials
Cut long branches from your Christmas tree with loppers or pruners and lay them over perennials. This is especially useful for perennials that are susceptible to frost heaving, as well as those that are only marginally hardy. A covering of evergreen branches could be the difference between losing a plant this winter and seeing it bloom again next year.
Start a New Compost Pile
The best base for a new compost pile is a layer of thin branches — including evergreen branches. This allows a bit of airflow at the bottom of the pile, and the branches will break down over time. Just trim them down so they fit in your bin, then stack them four to six inches high. After you’ve got them in, go ahead and start adding your kitchen scraps and other compostable as usual.
Make It into Mulch
And, no, you don’t need a fancy chipper/shredder to do this if you don’t have one. I’ve gotten into the habit of cutting the thinner Christmas tree branches into little pieces and adding them to the mulched paths between my vegetable garden beds. Simply snip them into one to two-inch pieces and toss them on the path. It’s a cheap way to mulch a path way, and, as a bonus, this path smells wonderful when you walk on it!
Use Branches as Pea Brush
If you live in north of the Mason Dixon line, you’ll be starting peas in a little over three months! Save the branches from your Christmas tree to stick into the ground wherever you plant your peas. The pea vines will climb the branches — evergreens work well because there are so many little branches for the tendrils to grab on to. Insert the branches into the ground in a crisscross fashion, so that one branch helps support the one next to it. You can also tie the branches together where they intersect to help stabilize your pea brush. Plant supports for FREE — works for me.
As far as reusing the trunk of your Christmas tree, you can lay it on the ground to use as a rustic garden bed edging (once you’ve trimmed all the branches off it, of course) or use it as a support to grow vining plants, such as morning glories, on. Even if you can’t figure out a way to use the trunk in your garden, it’s better to put the trunk out for recycling, rather than just tossing the whole tree away. Let’s put those Christmas trees to work in our gardens!
Christmas tree recycling has officially started here in Richmond, Check out this list of area recycling locations.
Residents of the City of Richmond can recycle their trees through their eighth annual “Bring One for the Chipper” Christmas tree recycling event. The event is scheduled for Saturday, January 6 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1710 Robin Hood Road, near the Boulevard.
Residents can also take trees to the East Richmond Road Convenience Center at 3800 East Richmond Road; Hopkins Road Transfer Station at 3520 North Hopkins Road; and the open area behind RVA Financial Credit Union on Robin Hood Road.
The Department of Public Works will also collect trees curbside through January 18 for residents who contact the City’s 3-1-1 Call Center.
Chesterfield County residents can recycle their live, undecorated trees at either of the county’s two convenience centers at no charge.
You can drop your tree off on the select days from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Monday, Tuesday, Friday-Sunday at the Northern Area Convenience Center, 3200 Warbro Road, Chesterfield
- Monday, Thursday, Friday-Sunday at the Southern Area Convenience Center, 6700 Landfill Drive, Chesterfield
The tree recycling runs through February 18.
Henrico County residents can recycle their Christmas tree from Tuesday, Dec. 26 through Sunday, Jan. 7.
The free service, which preserves landfill space and protects the environment, is available to Henrico residents only.
Undecorated trees will be accepted at the following locations:
- Henrico Government Center, 4301 E. Parham Road, in the lower parking lot;
- Eastern Government Center, 3820 Nine Mile Road, in the front parking lot;
- Springfield Road Public Use Area, 10600 Fords Country Lane, near Nuckols Road and Interstate 295
- Charles City Road Public Use Area, 2075 Charles City Road.
Trees can be dropped off anytime at the Henrico Government Center and Eastern Government Center and from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Prince George County
Prince George County residents can recycle their real, undecorated trees from Tuesday, Dec. 26 through Saturday, Jan. 13.
Residents can drop their trees off at the County Convenience Center (CFS), 3100 Union Branch Road, from 8:00am – 5:00pm daily.
The center will close at 12:00pm on December 31 and will be closed all day on January 1.