By Charlie Carey
If you’re in need of extending some Christmas cheer, the Nature Conservancy of Canada suggests keeping your Christmas tree in your backyard over the winter, this year.
Mimicking what happens in a forest when a tree naturally decomposes, letting nature help you recycle your tree can be done easily by propping the tree against a fence or laying it on the ground in a garden. However, it’s important to make sure it’s a tree that can grow in B.C., and not leave exotic species outdoors.
Not only a way to provide extra shelter and a new habitat for bird populations, the trees can also be repurposed to a crafting activity for the whole family, said Dan Kraus, NCC senior conservation biologist. Adding natural ornaments, such as pine cones or a string of peanuts, can be an easy way to attract birds into your yard.
“Evergreens offer a safe place for birds to rest while they visit your feeder,” said Kraus. “Another benefit is that if you leave the tree in your garden over the summer, it will continue to provide habitat for wildlife and improve your soil as it decomposes.”
As it will likely lose most of its needles by spring, your new meager Charlie Brown Christmas tree can be pulled-apart, where the trunk and branches can get a new lease on life as hide-outs for toads, insects, and bees.
“By fall, the branches and trunk will begin to decompose and turn into soil,” said Kaus. “Many of our Christmas trees, particularly spruce and balsam fir, have very low rot resistance and break down quickly when exposed to the elements.” To speed up the decomposition of the tree, you can even drill holes in the trunk to allow for more air and moisture.
If a decomposing reminder of the holiday season isn’t on your new year to-do list, there are other options to rehome your tree. Christmas trees are often recycled to be used as trail bedding and burnt for alternative fuels, so contact your local municipality about pick-ups and drop-offs.
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