Discarded Christmas trees can do double duty
That real Christmas tree that stood so beautifully in your home the past few weeks can still have some usefulness after the holidays.
Some trees are stripped of bulbs, tinsel and ornaments even before the last cookie is eaten, others stay up for weeks. But sooner or later, all come down.
Then they can begin a second, even third, way to serve.
Some who feed birds or just enjoy having birds around will put the tree outside because it's "great cover for birds, birds love it," said Randy Wobschall, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Rochester. Oaks, maples and other deciduous trees have lost all or most of their leaves by now, but the evergreens will still have needles for cover, he said.
Birds will spend their time avoiding predators and wind inside the cover, dart to feeders for food and hurry back to the cover, he said.
If you don't need avian cover or want to find yet another use for that tree, take it to a compost site that accepts them. The Olmsted County composting site will Christmas trees through the end of March, said Dennis Siems, compost manager.
Christmas trees are already showing up at the site. And, without snow, the compost site is still getting bags of leaves from procrastinators, he said.
The site once would get up to 6,000 trees, but that number's been cut nearly in half, he said. Maybe people buy an artificial tree to save money because they don't have to buy a tree every year, he said. Or, they don't like having a tree cut down every years, he said.
By early April, the trees will be chopped up to make about 120 cubic yards of mulch, which is given away, he said. "It's all usually gone in the first two weeks after we finish chipping," he said. But he cautioned that "people have to be careful where they use it."
Russ Hinz, an owner of Family Tree Landscaping Nursery Inc. in north Rochester, said conifers are naturally more acidic, so the mulch can kill garden plants. But that makes it great for places you don't want anything growing, such as walking paths, he said.