I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Now Christmas is over, though, and the decorations, lights, and Christmas tree are being put away for next year.
Well, maybe the Christmas tree is not being stored away, if you have a real tree. What do I do with this tree? If the tree is a living tree with a root system, you can plant it in your yard and enjoy it for years to come. However, most of the trees are cut trees and are going to be thrown away. There are a number of different ways that you can dispose of your tree or use it around your yard.
The first way that you can use your tree is to attract birds. The dense arrangement of the limbs offers protection for the birds.
You can entice them to use the tree by hanging food items on the limbs. This could include bird feeders, suet, orange slices, peanut butter balls with nuts on them and bread. Place it in an area of the yard that you see the most. If the area has large shrubs or other natural cover, you will get more birds in the area.
Another option for reusing your Christmas tree is to donate it to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for use as a fish attractor. They will accept trees at Riverside Middle School on Furys Ferry Road until Jan. 8.
If you have access to a pond or lake, you can make your own fish attractors. All you need are some old Christmas trees, a few concrete blocks and some rope or wire to tie the trees to the blocks. Place the trees in the pond or lake where it is covered with water.
We add trees to ponds and lakes to create habitat for small fish. The tree provides food and cover for fish in the body of water.
You can also take your tree to a recycling area. Again this year, there will be a Christmas tree recycling at The Home Depot on Bobby Jones Expressway 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Jan. 12. If you drop your tree off on that day, you will receive a tree seedling that you can plant.
In addition to the free tree seedlings, you can haul off all the free mulch that you want. The trees that are dropped will be ground into mulch and all you have to do is load it and haul it off. If you take the mulch, you will use it just like any mulch. You need to place a 3- to 4-inch layer around your plants.
Some people are worried about using the mulch because they think it will damage their plants. The only way that the mulch will damage the plants is if the mulch is incorporated into the soil. When woody material is incorporated, it will remove nitrogen from the soil as it breaks down. If it is placed on top of the soil, it will not remove the nitrogen.
The only thing that could be of concern is placing the mulch near your house. The mulch has not been treated for insects and you could draw termites. So use the mulch in beds away from the house.
If you get a tree seedling, you need to properly plant the tree so that it will grow and perform its best. The first thing that you need to consider is where to plant it. Depending on the species, you will need to look at how tall the tree gets and how much shade or sun does the tree require. Oaks and maples can grow to a large size, so you don't want to plant them under power lines or around the eaves of your home. Also, you want to plant oak trees and maples in full sun to partial shade, while dogwoods require partial shade to full shade.
To properly plant the tree, you need to dig a large hole. I like to dig a hole that is 2-3 feet in diameter. This will loosen the soil and give the roots of the tree a good start. Make sure that you don't plant the tree any deeper than the tree was originally planted. You can determine this by looking at the seedling and seeing the old soil line. Then, you need to plant to the old soil line, and water as needed.
Also, you need to mulch these trees. This is a good use of the mulch from the Christmas tree recycling. Soon you will have a tree that you will be enjoying for years to come. What a wonderful thank you-for recycling that Christmas tree!
Columbia County Extension Agent Charles Phillips can be reached at (706) 868-3413 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Extension Web address is www.ugaextension.com/columbia.
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