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After Christmas uses for the tree

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Christmas is only a few days off but already some people are stressing about getting rid of the tree after the holiday. Whether you take it down the day after Christmas, or enjoy it into January, the time eventually comes when the tree must go. Here are some green ideas on how to use the tree.

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Although it may be too late for this year, don’t buy a cut tree. Purchase a real tree with the root ball wrapped and ready for transplanting. Depending on your location, this can be done right away or it may have to wait until spring. The tree will survive outside even in the snow and cold. After all, trees are outside entities.

With some careful planning, live trees can fill in a gap in the landscaping, create a windbreak when additions come every year, or just go back into the forest with their friends. They also create privacy with a living fence that has no height restrictions.

Live or cut, put the tree upright in a snowbank or against a fence as a shelter for birds. On its side it can provide shelter for rabbits and other ground dwellers.

Remove the branches from cut trees. Use them to cover perennial beds to protect plants and small bushes from ice and snow. As the needles fall off they will act as mulch to keep the soil moist, protect plants from insects, and they smell great. Some of the longer branches can be stacked up tepee like to protect larger bushes.

Scoop some needles into a small piece of cloth. Tie it up with a pretty ribbon and you have a sachet that keeps the house smelling like Christmas.

Use thinner branches to help support indoor plants. Outside, they make great pea brush when inserted into the ground by sprouting pea plants. The plants need to climb and the branches as bushy enough to support them. Since peas are an early spring crop, the branches will still be supple in March and April.

Cut the trunk into flat surfaced logs of varying heights to use as pot stands in the summer.

Smaller branches are just the right size or coasters and trivets. Allow the wood to dry then coat with polyurethane to prevent sap from leaking.

Small slices of the trunk and larger branches make great edging pieces for beds and sidewalks. As the gradually decompose, add them to the mulch in the beds, or compost pile.

Use in the fire pit, but not indoors. Fir trees contain sap that can remain in pockets in the wood, even after drying. In a fire they can become super heated and explode. Outside the popping and snapping is great, but never inside where creosote build-up is a chimney fire hazard.

Get together with the neighbors and rent a chipper for everyone to share. The chips can help cover in an eyesore spot or fill a hole somewhere in the neighborhood. A chipper party can be a great get together and you can suggest lots of green ideas to everyone. Follow up with a pot luck meal to extend the holiday season a bit longer.

Contact your local recycling facility. Most of them will take trees for a limited time in January.

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