If you were unable to take up our suggestion of using a live tree in your holiday celebrations but, instead, employed a cut tree, do not toss the remnants on the curb. The best option is to put the tree in your landscape, at least temporarily, and offer a refuge for wildlife over the next few months. Many birds, small mammals and other critters will appreciate it and make great use of a fading conifer for protection from weather and predation.
Better still, you can begin building a brushpile with your tree and the downed limbs or twigs that accumulate over the Winter. The brushpile breaks down over time enriching the soil around the area and you can simply keep it going for many years adding to the pile as material presents itself in your landscape. Just be sure to locate the tree and/or brushpile away from any structures so to avoid creating an infestation problem with insects and rodents.
If your property does not allow for building a brushpile, you can always dispose of the tree in a public forest (off trail) and allow it to decompose naturally – this adds to the health of the forest ecosystem and provides cover for wildlife there, as well. Another option is to check with a local tree farm to see if they wish to use your spent tree for compost. Better yet, check with a local wildlife rehabilitator who might be able to make use of the tree for bedding, housing or even food.
Although many municipalities offer roadside pickup of holiday trees and use them in creating a community mulch, it’s still a better environmental bet to place the tree back in the natural environment. Municipal mulching does use gas-powered equipment to shred the trees which adds polluting fumes and greenhouse gases to the atmosphere so should be the last option in holiday tree disposal.
Mimicking these natural processes is a great way to finish off your holiday festivities!