Phew! The holidays are drawing to a triumphant close, and we're all so full of holiday cheer we're bursting the seams of our pants. Meanwhile in the living room, a friendly evergreen is beginning to turn a bit brown and drop its needles. Pretty soon, it'll be time to take down the tree -- but please, don't just stuff it in the trash can. Here are four ways you can get more use out of it!
Make a Bird Hangout
Stake the entire tree next to your bird feeder. Birds can shelter in its needles from icy winds and predators, and you'll have better birdwatching opportunities all winter.
Don't have a feeder? Make a 5-minute bird feeder with a few of the branches.
Protect Fragile Garden Plants
There are still a few months of frosty, windy weather ahead of us. Place evergreen boughs around tender young plants and even perennials to give them more protection into the spring. You can even use boughs as a wind shield for shrubs like azalea, rhododendron and holly.
Go for Mulch
If you so happen to have access to a tree chipper, you can make your own wood chips for mulching garden plants, filling in pathways and adding to your compost pile. Cut the trunk and larger branches into pieces that will fit into the chipper.
Check with your waste management company about whether they have a tree pickup and recycling program. If they don't, ask about recycling drop-off centers. In many cases, recycled trees are chipped into mulch and used in public works projects.
No tree pickup or drop-off service? Sounds like you might live in a rural area, which means there might be a nice spot of woods where you can leave the tree for Mother Nature's recycling program.
Don't stop with the tree! Here are more ways you can recycle the holidays.
image: Steven DePolo