Gardening: Christmas trees: Reuse, recycle or throw away


— What are the options for disposing of your Christmas tree now that the holidays are over?

  1. Reuse

  2. Recycle

  3. Discard

One way to reuse it is to cut it up for use in the fireplace or wood burner. The aroma is lovely, and the crackle makes the room feel so cozy when it’s cold outside. Because the tree is still a little green following the holidays, you will want to let it dry out well so it burns easily.

You can set it outdoors and let it provide a nice windbreak and protective area for small animals until it dries out thoroughly, or do what Master Gardener Linda Fisher-Faiola did when her children were small. She says they would take the cut tree outdoors, smear peanut butter on the limbs and sprinkle it with bird seed. All throughout the winter, the birds in the area had a place to get protection from the wind and a little food. By spring, the tree was totally dried out and ready to be cut for firewood.

Recycling your Christmas tree provides some other benefits to local residents. Each year after Christmas until the end of January, the staff of the Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department accepts Christmas trees stripped of all their tinsel and decorations and then chips them into mulch that is available free to local residents in the spring after. You may take your tree to the Howelsen Ice Arena parking lot between now and Jan. 31. The drop-off spot will be to the right of the entrance; look for the signs. Please do not bring wreaths or Christmas tree bases, and be sure to clear your tree of ornaments. Any metal or glass on the tree is dangerous to the operator when placed into the chipper.

The boughs of some of the trees taken in for recycling are used during Winter Carnival to line the bottom of Howelsen Hill, allowing the ski jumpers better depth perception. If you have questions about recycling your tree, feel free to call the Parks and Recreation Department at 970-879-4300, ext. 327.

Because there are such good options for reusing your Christmas tree or recycling it into mulch, it would be a shame to just discard it in the landfill.

And, thinking ahead to next year, you can avoid the whole dilemma of what to do with a used Christmas tree by getting a live indoor tree — like a Norfolk Island Pine — and decorating it for the holidays.

Deb Babcock and Linda Fisher-Faiola are both Master Gardeners through the Routt County Extension Office. Call 970-879-0825 with questions.


sledneck 5 years, 3 months ago

Stand them up in the snow (snow required) sprinkle them in diesel (not gas) and light 'em up. Marshmallows optional.


rhys jones 5 years, 3 months ago

One year I earned public service credit helping Fuzz set up the display for the Winter Carnival Night Events -- stands, stage, sound board, etc -- including a forest grove made from ex-Christmas trees.

Then it was dumping during the actual show, and that was kinda cool, the fireworks going off in the cloud. I got to watch this from Ground Zero with all the local celebrities. WSC is a great place to do your DUI penance. Dunno where the trees went after that.


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