Iowans will buy several hundred thousand Christmas trees this holiday season. After the holidays, there are several ways to dispose of or recycle your tree. (Before recycling your Christmas tree, remove all tinsel and ornaments.) Some suggestions are:
Place the tree in the yard or garden for use by birds and other wildlife. The branches provide shelter from strong winds and cold. Food can be supplied by hanging fruit slices, seed cakes, suet bags, or strings of cranberries or raisins on the tree's branches. You can also smear peanut butter and seeds in pine cones and hang them in the tree.
Prune off the branches and place the boughs over perennials as a winter mulch.
Chip the tree and use as a mulch around trees, shrubs, or in perennial flower beds.
If you can't use the tree yourself, contact local government offices, such as the Public Works Department, or your sanitation service. Most communities have some type of Christmas tree disposal program. Some have central collection points, others collect the trees at curbside.
Conservation groups may be another option. Some hunting and fishing groups collect trees and use them to provide habitat for fish and wildlife.
Don't burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove. Dry, evergreen branches literally explode when burned and could cause a house fire. Also, burning the tree may contribute to the buildup of creosote and lead to a flue fire.
For many, selecting and decorating the Christmas tree is one of the highlights of the holiday season, and then after the holidays to recycle the tree and prolong its usefulness.
This article originally appeared in the 12/5/2003 issue.