Merry Christmas! Santa's famous ride across the sky was a few days ago and probably by now all of the presents have been unwrapped, the paper is bagged up, and the bows and ribbons have been saved (right!).
Your beautiful live Christmas tree has been gracing your living room for several weeks spreading pine scented fragrance and good cheer. It might be getting a little frazzled at this point and the needles are starting to drop; it's time to find the perfect place to recycle it.
You can start right in your own backyard! Place your tree beside your birdfeeders to give the birds extra cover for safety. You will be amazed at the number of birds that will gather there, keeping warm, and getting a closer seat to your seed banquet. Birdfeeding time is prime time for cats to pick off birds while they are on the feeders or nearby. Your Christmas tree can give them that extra protection. (If you have a cat, keep it indoors, not only for the bird's sake, but it is safer for your cat, too. It seems a little unfair to put out bird seed to entice the birds to come closer, and then let your cat roam to feast upon them!)
As winter wanes and the tree begins to lose its shape, you can cut off a branch here and there (or all at once) and place them under your small trees and shrubs for mulch.
That is one of the great things about live trees, they complete the circle. After growing on a tree farm providing habitat for wildlife, jobs for the industry and boosting the local economy, they end up at your doorstep for one of the most festive times of year. When a Christmas tree's job is over, you can recycle it back to nature where the cycle starts all over again.
Many of the recycling centers use Christmas trees for the park system's chipped trails or landscaping, they may offer the chips back to the local residents, use the trees in ponds for fish habitat, or for a host of other applications. Additionally, many garbage waste haulers will not pick up Christmas trees (which would only go in a landfill).
I did a little homework for you and completed a list of local facilities that accept live Christmas trees. Remember to call before you load up your tree and drive to the center. Many recyclers accept a limited number of Christmas trees annually.
Hope your Holidays have been good and that you're looking forward to a very GREEN 2013!
Lynn Youngblood is a Kansas City-based naturalist who writes for Gatehouse Media.