Thursday, December 7, 2023

Practically Living Green

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Should You Compost Your Christmas Tree?

With Christmas out of the way, it’s time to think about what to do with your tree. I know many people will simply toss it out with next week’s trash. But, you should consider whether you can compost your Christmas tree.

Now, not all trees are capable of being composted properly. For example, frosted trees are often covered with a material that isn’t going to compost well in your yard.

Though, there’s nothing wrong with scrubbing the tree and preparing it for mulching into your garden.

Why Compost the Christmas Tree?

Not everyone buys living trees or decides to go with plastic Christmas trees. There is something to be said about having a real tree hovering over the presents each year.

But when the season is over, what will you do with that real tree? Well, there are a few reasons why you would want to compost the Christmas tree.

Saves Landfill Space

First of all, it saves on disposal. Some cities will automatically compost the tree after pick up. But, that really depends on where you live and if there is a similar service available.

For instance, Denver has a Christmas tree recycling program and locations to drop them off.

At any rate, not tossing your tree in the trash can save quite a bit of space at the dump.

Provides Nutrients for Your Soil

Composting any plant is ideal for growing just about anything. In the case of a tree, it’s adding carbon and nitrogen back into the soil.

Well, after de-needling the tree. Pine needles are more resistant to the bacteria in compost piles, so they won’t break down nearly as fast.

Less of an Eyesore On the Curb

One of the biggest reasons why I’m for the compost of a Christmas tree is the curb-side eyesore. How often do you drive down the street and see trees lining the road like some kind of macabre forest funeral?

In a way, it’s kind of sad, really. I love Christmas so much, and to see once-loved trees discarded in such a fashion makes me feel kind of bad.

Yeah, I know, it’s a bit silly to feel sorry for a piece of wood drying out on a curb.

How Do You Compost a Christmas Tree?

Composting a Christmas tree isn’t really all that difficult. It can be done just like any other plant material you toss into the pile. But, there are a few things you need to consider before you just toss the entire tree on your compost heap.

Pull the Needles

As I mentioned earlier, pine needles are resistant to the bacteria in your compost pile. This means you’ll need to shed the tree.

In reality, it shouldn’t be all that difficult of a task. Especially if you’re like me and wait until March to take the tree down. At that point, it should be plenty dry to nearly rub the needles off with a glove.

Chop it Up

Large chunks of wood take much longer to degrade as compost. Chop the tree up into smaller pieces while adding it to the pile.

If you have a mulcher on hand, all the better.

Just make sure you break it down into smaller pieces to make composting the material quicker.

Can You Light it Up in a Firepit?

A lot of people will wait a couple of months and then chop the Christmas tree up to use as firewood. Depending on how big the tree is, it might provide a day or two worth of camping or firepit get-togethers.

However, you need to be aware of the pitch within the trees themselves. For instance, most firs will still have pitch, which will cause quite a bit of popping while burning.

I’ve seen pitch send a piece of burning wood outside of a fireplace when it exploded.

Now, it won’t go up like a stick of dynamite. But, it does have enough pressure to cause injury or put a home at risk. So, be wary of using a Christmas tree as firewood.

The best part is you can then add the coal and ash to your compost pile afterward.

Back Into the Ground it Goes!

I’m a fan of composting as much as possible. Not only does it help my pumpkins grow every year, but it greatly reduces how much I throw away in the trash.

In reality, anyone who owns their property should compost their Christmas tree. There are a variety of uses from enriching the soil to adding mulch to next spring’s flower garden.

Why spend the money for garden mulch when a perfectly good source was just sitting in your house for the last couple of months?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been interested in the practicality of living green for quite some time. He works closely with GreenGeeks Web Hosting as the Content Marketing Team Lead and an author of various articles.

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