Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – What to do with the Christmas Tree? – January 11, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – If you are lucky your County or City offers a tree pickup program where the tree, which has served
you well over the holidays, will be chipped and used as mulch in city gardening projects or the chips will be used in a composting pile which will feed gardens throughout the region.
Remember mulch retains moisture in your garden during the hot days of summer, prevents soil compaction from the
rain and provides an ideal environment for our friendly garden helpers, the earthworm.
Repurposing Christmas trees makes perfect sense rather than seeing all of this good organic material going to
waste in a landfill.
The City of Cornwall will be collecting trees from January 10th to January 14th. The collection will be done on your regular garbage pick-up day.  Check your respective county’s website for tree pick up information. If this service is not available, offer your help to get a program up and running. Some communities (not in our region) have initiated programs where people take their trees to a central locale for chipping and go home with a bag of tree chips for their own garden use. I’m thinking this could be a great fundraising project for a Girl Guide troop or school.
There are many ways to reuse and repurpose this natural material into something that continues to serve us and our surrounding wildlife. One of my personal favourites, should you have the space, is to anchor (from the strong winter winds) the tree on its side outdoors for small animals and birds to use as cover throughout the rest of winter season. This can later be chipped and composted when the warmer weather returns. The tree can also serve has a bird shelter & feeder if anchored upright.
This is easily accomplished by securing the tree with rope to a fence or small tree trunk. Trim some of the branches so there is room to hang suet, dried fruit and popcorn for the birds. This will bring hours of visual fun for you and your family from the comforts of your own home. The family cat will greatly appreciate the live entertainment as well.
If you use a wood burning stove the tree will most certainly serve as fuel for the fire. I know a gentleman who would use the bare tree skeleton for his bird feeders and wind chimes in his flower beds throughout the year. They were pleasant to look at and a welcome new refuge for the neighbouring birds.
The needles of your tree can be gathered in a bowl and placed throughout your living and working areas. This allows you to enjoy the fresh fragrant scent of your favourite evergreen for a couple of months down the road. This can also be accomplished by using some of the cut limbs in a vase.    Used Christmas trees have been used in wetland areas to improve fish habitat. To accomplish this, the trees are bundled and secured underwater with cinderblocks. Over time the submerged trees grow algae, which in turn attracts insects and smaller fish which in turn attract larger fish. In ocean front areas trees are anchored on the beach which is helpful in preventing wind erosion. The sand naturally gathers and anchors itself around the structure of the tree. This provides a stable
environment for beach grasses to take root and flourish. This further aids in erosion prevention.
Should you have a unique way to repurpose a Christmas tree, we encourage you to share your ideas below or at


  1. I really like the idea of a group organizing a tree shredding where users get the shredded parts back. I wonder though, are many cars making return trips better or worse than one truck pick up factoring in fuel and exhaust. Good ideas in this article for property owners, perhaps apartment occupants could contact the city to see if they could spread their tree parts in a local park….

  2. @Eric…I understand your point about all the people driving the trees to a particular locale…lets also think that the participants will be making this trip with other errands in mind. B.T.W. for all the people that use leaf mulch in their gardens, Christmas tree branches can serve to hold the leaf mulch in place.

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