Abandonded Christmas trees: the sad sights of January


The last of the Christmas trees are appearing on sidewalks and curbs. When I look at these, all I see is organic matter crying out to return to the earth. These trees don’t want to go to the landfill, they want to stay in the flow, to become nutrients and habitat. The way I see it, we owe them decent treatment in return for the joy they gave us over the holidays.

It’s not that hard to strip the branches off a tree, and throw those branches and needles beneath another tree as mulch. The trunk can be made into firewood–or hugelkultur!

(Of course you don’t want to mulch with trees sprayed with fire retardant or anything other fishy business)

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  1. or…wait for it…to make a pole for a stand for a DIY custom-fitted-to-you dress form! (aside from the paper tape, it’s pretty much made from upcycled material/scraps, and also a fun/funky way to “borrow” a friend’s tree stand for most of the year, saving them from storing it)


    🙂 P

  2. I would happily collect lonely trees from my neighborhood for mulch/compost — except for the fire retardant thing. What percentage of trees do you think are treated? I suppose I could try burning a branch to find out…

  3. Our city just collects them in a separate truck and adds them to the city compost pile. No extra charge. Great for people who don’t have a chipper!

  4. I thought most cities collected trees for mulching or chipping as groundcover in parks.

    Though I am a bit shocked that people throw out tree stands, considering that they tend to be expensive these days.

  5. What a waste…my parents throw theirs in the backyard to be demolished by alpacas. They love to eat the needles. Sometimes the neighbors share as well!

  6. Our city stopped recycling Xmas trees a couple of years ago, because people tended to let decorations in the branches, making the recycling and composting process harder or impossible (according to the city).

    So the trees are burned. With the garbages.

    Mine went to the street almost bare. I let it die inside and a whole bunch of needles fell on the floor while I was cutting the tree in half (a requirement before the tree can be put on the side of the street). I kept them and made myself a fragrant cushion I put in my bed. The smell, my friends, is incredible. It’s like lying in the forest.

  7. We have a twice handed-down artificial tree, so we don’t have to put ours on the curb, but our city collects them for mulch. I love pine needle mulch, though, so if it were mine I would steal all the needles first for my garden…

    • Oh, it would take a whole lot of pine needles to change the pH of your soil. Much more than a Christmas tree or two could contribute. Like, you’d be concerned if a dark pine forest mysteriously sprouted in your yard (and at that point you’d be more worried about bandits and wolves than soil pH.)

  8. My husband and I collected a bunch of trees off the curb in our neighborhood to place out by our bird feeders for cover (we haven’t had the house long, and there isn’t much natural cover in the back yard yet). It’s just temporary, but we’ve had a lot more birds since we did that! I imagine I’ll mulch with them or make another hugel bed come spring.

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