Christmas tree

MANSFIELD -- It's not too early to consider what to do with the Christmas tree that has brightened your home during the holiday season.

There is no need to rush in taking it down. Enjoy the colorful lights and ornaments put up in recent weeks to help celebrate Christmas.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, there are 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. each year. And there are many things you can do with the tree when the time is right:

One option is to take the tree to the compost facility operated by Richland County Solid Waste Management District at 441 Cairns Road.

The facility is closed for the season, but will open Tuesday, Jan. 5, through Friday, Jan. 8, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturday, Jan. 9, from 8 a.m. to noon to accept Christmas trees.

But there also other options, rather than just tossing that wonderful tree on the curb.

According to, that Christmas tree can be of continued value to you after the lights, tinsel and ornaments are removed, including:

Provide Shelter for Backyard Wildlife

Leave the tree in its stand and set it out in the yard for the rest of the winter. It can fill in a bare spot and provide something pretty to look at. More importantly, it can provide winter shelter for birds. If you have plenty of trees, consider laying the Christmas tree on its side to provide shelter for rabbits and other small mammals.

Use the Branches to Mulch Perennials

Cut long branches from the Christmas tree with loppers or pruners, and lay them over perennials. This is especially useful for perennials susceptible to frost heaving, as well as those that are only marginally hardy in this area. A covering of evergreen branches could be the difference between losing a plant this winter and seeing it bloom again next year.

Start a New Compost Pile

The best base for a new compost pile is a layer of thin branches — including evergreen branches. This allows a bit of airflow at the bottom and the branches will break down over time. Trim them down so they fit in your bin, then stack them four to six inches high. Then start adding kitchen scraps and other compostables as usual.

Make It Into Mulch

A fancy chipper/shredder is not needed. Cut the thinner Christmas tree branches into little pieces and add them to the mulched paths between  vegetable garden beds. Snip them into one-to two-inch pieces and toss them on the path. It's a cheap way to mulch a pathway.

Use Branches as Pea Brush

If you are an Ohio gardened, you may be planting peas in about three months. Save Christmas tree branches and stick them into the ground wherever you plant your peas. The pea vines will climb the branches—evergreens in particular work well because there are so many little branches for the tendrils to grab on to. Insert the branches into the ground in a criss-cross fashion, so one branch helps support the one next to it. You can also tie the branches together where they intersect to help stabilize your pea brush.

Here are other options, according to the Arbor Day Foundation:

Firewood: Because most evergreens are heavy sap trees, they work best for firewood when used outdoors. The sap is flammable and creosote build-up can pose as a threat when used indoors. Evergreens tend to burn hot and fast, making them ideal for bonfires. Trees with sap should be dried out a few months before cutting or burning to avoid a mess and an unruly fire.

Mulch: The most common use for your tree is to make mulch or compost out of it. Whether it’s with the woodchips or needles, mulch is a great way to keep your yard trees healthy and moist during the cold winter season. Pine needles are full of nutrients that enhance the PH of your soil if its more alkaline and allow your soil to breathe without becoming dense and compacted. Be sure to douse your pine needles with water and mix well in your compost pile.

Fish-feeders: When trees are dropped and left in water, they become a thriving reserve for fish. The weight of the tree acts as an anchor, and as time passes, algae starts to form on the tree, feeding fish and protecting them from predators. Check with local officials and see if you can drop your tree in a nearby lake or pond.

Ash the garden: After you’ve burned the wood from your tree, gather the ashes and spread them on your garden. Wood ash contains potassium and lime (among other nutrients), which help plants thrive, or mix the ashes into a compost. The ashes are also useful in keeping insects away. Don’t confuse wood ash with coal ash, coal ash does not offer the same benefits.

Air fresheners: If the needles on your tree are still green, strip the tree and store the needles in paper bags or sachets to use as fresheners. The needles will retain their scent and freshen your home year-round.

Coasters: You don’t have to be a craftsman to cut the trunk into one-inch wood coasters. They’re attractive, practical, and protect your wood tables from water damage. Be sure to let the tree completely dry before cutting (or they wood will split) and varnish the coasters before use.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"