It’s almost time to bundle up and get everyone in the car to go on the yearly quest to find the perfect Christmas tree! For some a faux tree is just fine, but for others this is an event that takes a few hours, a lot of walking/hiking and use of the coveted tree saw passed down from generations. No matter how you acquire your festive foliage, in about a month’s time or so, it is time to find its final resting place. While most of America throws their trees curbside for the waste company to dispose of, there are other ways to take care of the trees once they stop bringing holiday cheer. Here are a few suggestions for alternative uses for your perfect tree this season…
Perhaps your Douglas or Frasier Fir don’t look so great inside anymore, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do great things outside! After the lights, ornaments and tinsel are all taken down and taking their ascent back to the attic, take your tree (still in the stand) outside. Set up your tree on your deck, patio or even by the tree line for the rest of the winter. Adorn the tree with peanut butter rolled in bird seed, orange slices or even stringed popcorn! This new haven will be a sanctuary for the beautifully colored birds of winter to seek refuge form the elements, grab a snack and to get some rest. If you happen to have more than one holiday tree to take care of in your home, bring the other outside and lay it on its side. This layout will provide much welcomed shelter to other winter critters like rabbits!
I have always loved living and playing in the Poconos and enjoying the amazing outdoor surroundings. This is one reason my Christmas tree goes to the environmental center every year. The good folks at the center use a large portion of the spent Christmas trees to take to the waterways. Submerging the trees in carefully-selected local waters will create a thriving reserve for the native fish to congregate in. The weight of the tree acts as its own anchor, and in time, algae will start to grow. This tree will transform into an organic shelter for the fish to hide and feed from. As it if weren’t enough to know you are helping the local wildlife, now you know where the fish are hiding when it comes time to dust off your fishing pole and make your first cast of the season!
Before your tree makes its final exit out of your home, be sure to snag a few branches, clippings and needles that are still alive and green. While some people don’t want to spend the effort, I feel that it is the last effort to keep the holiday season in full swing. Healthy branches provide the opportunity to give your fireplace mantel a little panache and your outdoor holiday planters a little more joyful oomph! Pine needles are the perfect addition sprinkled into your holiday potpourri or put in little sachets placed around the home. Nothing quite makes you feel more relaxed and in the spirit than the fresh smell of fir or pine…well, maybe the hot toddies and eggnog do, but that’s a different story.
The most common use for your spent tree is to use around your home. You can lob off the branches and lay them on top of your perennial beds to provide added cold weather protection for the bulbs that are only marginally hardy in your zone. The same branches can be used in a few months when it is time to plant your early season peas! Sticking the branches in the ground or planter where you plant your peas will act as a natural and rustic cage for the vegetables to reach the sky. Evergreen branches work well in this application because they provide lots of little branches for the vegetable tendrils to grab onto, ensuring their delicious success.
You may also want to take the bare tree trunk and chop it up into firewood. In a perfect world, you would be able to burn this firewood inside the house, but unfortunately, that isn’t a great idea. Most evergreens are heavy-sap trees, and as we all know, sap is flammable which can cause creosote to build up in your chimney. Don’t let that put a damper on the fun though! Bundle up the kids, grab the hot cocoa and blankets and head outside to the firepit! An afternoon or evening outdoor fire cozied up to your loved ones and reflecting on your holiday while you stare at a blanket of fresh-fallen snow around you…that’s the stuff Hallmark movies are made of. Evergreen wood tends to burn hot and fast, which are the two things you want when sitting outside in cold temperatures! Give it a try, this may be the perfect way to close out your holiday.
I’ll never forget the first time I talked with one of my close friends about his family holiday traditions when he was a kid. He told me of his parents buying a live Christmas tree every year. Honestly that didn’t faze me, because aren’t all trees alive? He actually meant that they went to the nursery and selected a live-root balled and burlapped fir tree! They would go out after Thanksgiving as a family, select their tree and have it tagged until pickup in mid-December.
In the meantime, his family would find the perfect place on their property to plant the tree immediately after the holiday, and they would start to dig. He said that it was important to dig the tree’s new home as soon as they found the location, so the ground was still soft enough to dig. After Christmas, the tree would be relocated to that spot and planted back into the earth! After thinking about it, it is a very sweet family tradition that you can physically look back on and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
No matter what variety of tree or how you spend your holidays, we hope that 2018 has been a beautiful year for you and those close to you. I promised myself I would save the sappy message until our last blog of the year, so I will keep this short…well…short-ish. MasterPLAN Outdoor Living loves bringing joy into our clients lives through outdoor living, and we hope that whether it be through a project or simply through this weekly blog, we have made you smile at least a few times throughout the year. We hope that your upcoming holidays are full of family, friends, laughter and good times! And, of course, for all of your outdoor living design-build needs, feel free to reach out to MasterPLAN…we would absolutely love to welcome you into the family.
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