Thursday, January 1, 2015

Christmas Tree Recycling by Donna Duffy

That lovely, fragrant cut tree you bought weeks ago has probably seen better days by now. It’s time to get it out of the house! Following are some options for recycling the tree once you’ve removed all of the decorations and tinsel. One caution: don’t burn the tree in your fireplace – the pitch content in the bark and needles can cause them to burst into flames from the intense heat.

Treat the birds!
Take that dry tree outside! You can prop it up against the house or leave the tree stand in place. Decorate it with popcorn, fresh cranberries, peanuts in the shell, pine cones with suet and birdseed; apples, rice cakes, or dried corn bundles. The birds will love the variety of treats – as will the squirrels. Use natural string, ribbon and raffia for hanging the edible decorations. The birds will use this material for nesting in the spring.

Use the Tree Boughs for Mulch
Recycle the boughs and use them as mulch in your own yard. Just cut the boughs off the trunk or larger branches and place them on your perennial beds. The boughs will protect dormant plants from drying out as fast as if they were fully exposed. They'll also keep the plants dormant longer because the soil temperature won't rise as quickly on sunny winter days. Be sure to remove the boughs as the plants start to emerge from dormancy. Then chop boughs into small pieces and add them to your compost pile to provide some acidity.

Recycle Your Whole Tree
Many city municipalities have sites where Christmas trees can be dropped off. Following are several sites in Jefferson County:
  • City of Golden: Trees will be accepted for recycling from December 26th through January 26th. Trees may be dropped off at any time between these dates at the Golden Recycle site, just west of Hwy 93 and north of Golden Gate Canyon Road. Please leave trees at the south end of the site where a recycling sign is visible. Mulch from the chipping process will be available for free at the public pickup site on 11th Street, just west of the Clear Creek History Park. For further information, call 303-384-8141.
  • City of Lakewood: Take your tree to the City of Lakewood Greenhouse, 9556 W. Yale Avenue from December 26th through January 11th, between 7:00am and 3:00pm.
  • City of Edgewater: Trees will be accepted on January 10th between 9:00am and 1:00pm at 20th and Depew.
  • City of Evergreen: Trees will be accepted at the Evergreen Lutheran Church on Hwy 73 on January 3rd or  10th between 9:00am and 5:00pm. For more information, call 303-670-6385.
  • For other municipalities, check the website or call the city offices.
  • Rooney Road Recycling Center no longer recycles organics.

Before you take your tree, find out if there are restrictions. Many sites will not accept flocked trees and all sites require thorough removal of decorations to protect both man and machine in the recycling process. The best rule of thumb is to take your tree to the recycler in the same condition that you would find it in the forest. Then go back and pick-up some mulch for your garden! Pine needles are great for protecting fall planted materials, and bark chips are perfect for informal walkways.