Many Networx readers will be putting up some form of Christmas tree in the coming days or weeks, and while there are lots of alternatives to the traditional cut conifer, these holiday classics still dominate the landscape. The only problem is what happens at the end of the Christmas season, when that once-proud tree is a brown, dessicated remainder of its former self, and you have to drag it out of the house, shedding needles along the way, and send it along on the next step to its journey.
City streets after Christmas are commonly bedecked with dead Christmas trees waiting mournfully for collection, and some cities actually set up Christmas tree collection programs, specifying a collection day and sending around compost collection trucks to gather up the dead. But that doesn't have to be the fate of your Christmas tree, because there are many creative uses for its remains that offer a more dignified solution.
1. Fire starter
Christmas trees are infamously flammable, especially at the end of their lives, when they have minimal moisture to suppress flames. While electricians may caution you about the use of some electrical components around a Christmas tree, you can use that trait to your advantage when the holidays are over. Cut your tree into manageable portions and use the branches and trunk as kindling and fire starter to quickly get flames going in the woodstove, firepit, or fireplace. Make sure all tinsel and ornaments have been removed to avoid noxious smoke.
Be aware that if your tree is at all sappy, you run the risk of creosote buildup. It needs to be completely dry before being used in indoor fireplaces and woodstoves.
2. Fire starter, bonus edition: bonfire
Some families make an epic post-holiday tradition of creating a bonfire with their trees, and they may even combine forces with friends and other households in the family to make the fire last longer. Christmas trees light up like, well, Christmas trees, and they can make a great bonfire source for a New Year's party on the beach or in the backyard. As with any bonfire, check to determine if you need a burn permit first, and observe safety precautions: light the fire in a clear, open area on a day with minimal wind, don't keep flammable objects nearby, and supervise the tree closely as it burns.
Those obnoxious shedding needles make fantastic mulch for your garden, and the branches can be composted in the brown layer of your compost. If you have access to a wood chipper, run the trunk and large branches through to create wood chips, which can be used for mulching, lining paths, or suppressing weed growth. Your local Los Angeles landscaping company may be happy to mulch your tree for a small fee.
4. Pathway edgers
Cut that trunk into miniature rounds and use them in upright position to edge paths (or beds and other garden features). If you have a somewhat folksy, natural, relaxed-feeling garden, they'll fit right in. They'll also break down slowly to nourish the soil and slowly improve the condition of your garden beds, which is a nice added feature. Incidentally, those same rounds can also be sanded and sealed to make coasters.