The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is suggesting another way to get rid of your Christmas tree after the holidays that is even easier than getting it collected and chipped.
Jessica Panetta, NCC’s national media relations manager, says you can recycle your tree yourself by putting it in the backyard to be used as a wildlife refuge. Panetta suggests propping it up next to another tree in the garden or laying it down at the bottom of another tree to let it decompose over the winter months.
“You could even have some fun with it and extend the holiday season by redecorating it with the family,” she says, suggesting people use pine cones covered in peanut butter or stringing together some seeds for birds to eat.
“[Birds are] trying to tough out the winter months and maybe there are some storms where they need to find extra shelter, your Christmas tree could actually be a really great habitat for these birds.”
As the season progresses the tree will lose all its needles. By springtime, the tree will look more like a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree,” at that point, Panetta suggests cutting off all the branches and putting them on top of your garden bed or around the soil.
“What that’s going to do is shelter flowers and hold moister in the soil, which is going to help build the soil but it also provides benefits for your own backyard,” she explains.
Putting the tree onto soil directly helps it decompose quicker while providing shelter for insects and pollinators into the spring and summer months.
“When you have a tree in your backyard … you get to see it go through all the season,” she says, adding it’s a great opportunity to learn more about forest ecology. A Christmas tree should take about a year to decompose in a backyard, so you’ll have space for next year’s tree when the time comes.
“Anything is better than sending it to the landfill,” says Panetta.