I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.
Now Christmas is over, and the decorations, lights and Christmas tree are starting to come down. They are being stored and put away for next year.
Well, maybe the Christmas tree is not being stored away, especially if you have a real tree. The question becomes: What do I do with this tree? If it's a living tree with a root system, it can be planted in the yard to enjoy for years to come. But most of the trees are cut trees, and they are going to be thrown away. There are a number of different ways to dispose of a tree or use it around the yard.
The first way to use a tree is to attract birds. The dense arrangement of limbs offers protection for the birds and gives them cover from predators. They can be enticed to the tree by hanging food items on the limbs -- bird feeders, suet, orange slices, peanut butter balls with nuts on them or bread.
To get the most enjoyment from the tree, place it in an area of the yard where it can be easily seen. If the area has large shrubs or other natural cover, more birds will come.
Another option for reusing Christmas trees is to donate them to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for use as a fish attracter. Those who have access to a private pond or lake can make their own attracters. Fish attracters are easily made using 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 they will be covered with water. It doesn't matter how deep the water is as long as it covers the trees.
Some people like to stand the trees upright. To do this, tie an empty soda bottle or milk jug to the top of the tree.
Adding trees to ponds and lakes creates habitat for small fish. In a body of water, algae and small insects grow on the tree. As these become more plentiful, small fish and larger insects move in to feed. Then larger fish move in to feed on the small fish and insects. So the tree provides food and cover for fish.
Another thing to do with a tree is to take it to a recycling area. Again this year, there will be a Christmas tree recycling at Home Depot on Belair Road in Evans Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Those who drop off a tree that day will receive a tree seedling.
In addition to the free seedlings, free mulch is available. The trees that are dropped off will be ground into mulch, and all you have to do is load it and haul it off. The mulch can be used just like any mulch in a 3- to 4-inch layer around plants.
Some people worry about using the mulch because they think it will damage their plants. The only way the mulch will damage the plants is if it 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 concern is if the mulch is placed near a home. The mulch has not been treated for insects and could draw termites, so it should be used in beds away from the house.
Those who get a seedling should properly plant the tree so that it will grow and perform its best.
The first thing to consider is where to plant the tree. Depending on the species, see how tall the tree gets and how much shade or sun it requires. Oaks and maples can grow large, so those shouldn't be planted under power lines or around the eaves of a home. Oak trees and maples should be planted in full sun to partial shade, while dogwoods require partial shade to full shade.
To properly plant the tree, dig a large hole. I like to dig a hole that is 2 to 3 feet in diameter. This will loosen the soil and give the roots of the tree a good start. Make sure not to plant the tree any deeper than the tree was originally planted. This can be determined by the old soil line on the seedling. Plant to the old soil line, and water as needed.
These trees also need to be mulched. 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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