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Christmas trees should be disposed of properly

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Posted: December 30, 2012 - 12:10am

The Christmas trees are coming down. Decorations and artificial trees can be stored until next year, but live trees should be disposed of properly. There are a number of ways Christmas trees can to be useful after the holiday season.

Christmas trees are excellent fish attractors. The Army Corps of Engineers has had a tree-recycling program for about 20 years at Clarks Hill Lake and collects between 1,000 and 1,200 trees annually. The Corps of Engineers is accepting trees through Jan. 5 at Riverside Middle School, 1095 Furys Ferry Road in Evans. The trees will be used to create fish habitat.

All decorations must be removed from the trees before dropping them off. Dumping of wireframe wreaths, yard debris and household trash at the site is prohibited. Corps rangers and volunteers will submerge trees around fishing piers and in other locations to improve fish habitat, and additional trees will be staged at boat ramps around the lake for anglers to use.

For a list of locations where trees will be available, contact the Corps office at (800) 533-3478 after Jan. 10.

Christmas trees also can be placed in private ponds to help improve fishing. A cut tree, a few concrete blocks and some rope or wire to tie the tree to the blocks is all that is needed to construct a fish attractor. Place the tree into a pond or other body of water. It does not matter how deep the water is as long as it covers the trees. After the tree is in the water, it provides a great substrate for algae growth. Small insects and fish will feed on the algae, and the tree’s limbs will also provide cover for the smaller fish. These small fish attract larger species and create an enticing “hot spot” for anglers.

Another great option for disposing of live Christmas trees is to take them to a drop-off site that chips them for mulch. Home Depot in Evans is a chipping site. Anyone can drop off natural trees at the Evans Home Depot on 520 North Belair Road. All decorations as well as the stand must be removed from the trees before dropping them off.

The trees will be mulched from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, and the mulch will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The mulch created from the trees is free, and a tree donation is not required to receive the mulch.

It is important to remember that mulch should be placed on top of the ground around plants. If it is incorporated into the soil, it will damage the plants. When woody material is incorporated into the soil, it removes nitrogen from the soil as it breaks down.

The mulch should also not be placed near buildings. The mulch created from live Christmas trees has not been treated for insects and could draw termites. Therefore, it is best to use this mulch in beds away from buildings.

Apply a layer 3 to 4 inches thick. This will help the soil retain moisture, block sunlight from the soil surface, help control weeds and protect root systems from heat or cold.

The mulch should be spread over the entire bed, and it should not touch the trunk or stems of the plants. This will keep too much moisture around the stem or trunk and could allow diseases or insects to attack the plant.

If the mulch is being used around trees, it should be applied 3 to 4 inches deep and applied out to the end of the limbs of the tree.

The Columbia County Recycling Center Facility at 1960 William Few Parkway in Grovetown also accepts live Christmas trees for disposal during business hours Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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District 12 U.S. Rep. John Barrow will visit Columbia County at 8 a.m. Jan. 7 on his rural listening tour. All people involved in agriculture are encouraged to attend. The meeting will be held in the Appling Courthouse.

Tripp Williams, Columbia County’s agriculture and natural resource agent, can be reached at (706) 541-4011, or trippj@uga.edu.

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