I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas.
In the next few days, the decorations, lights and Christmas trees will start coming down. The decorations are being stored and put away for next year.
Artificial trees can be stored until next year, but the cut tree must be moved out of the house.
There are a number of ways to dispose of trees.
The first is to use the tree to attract birds to your yard. The dense arrangement of the limbs offers protection for the birds and allows them to have cover from predators.
Birds can be enticed to use the tree by hanging food on the limbs.
Bird feeders, suet, orange slices, peanut butter balls with nuts on them, and bread will all work.
The tree should be placed in an area where it is seen from the house.
If the area has large shrubs or other natural cover, more birds will be seen.
Old Christmas trees can also be used as fish attractors. The Army Corps of Engineers is accepting these trees at Riverside Middle School.
The trees will be placed in the lake.
Old trees can also be placed in private ponds to help improve fishing.
Fish attractors are easily made. All that is needed are some old Christmas trees, a few concrete blocks, and some rope or wire to tie the trees to the blocks.
Cover the trees with water in the pond or lake. It doesn't matter how deep the water is as long as it covers the trees.
After the trees are in the water, algae will start growing on them. Small insects and fish will feed on the algae, and larger fish will be attracted to the insects and small fish.
The tree's limbs will also provide cover for the smaller fish.
The Christmas tree can also be used for mulch. Christmas trees can be recycled again this year at Home Depot in Evans, starting at 9 a.m. Jan. 8.
The trees that are dropped off will be ground into mulch. The mulch is free.
I always get a number of questions about using this new mulch.
First, will it hurt the plants?
If the mulch is placed on top of the ground, it will not hurt the plants. If it is incorporated into the soil, it will damage the plants.
When woody material is incorporated, it removes nitrogen from the soil as it breaks down. If it is placed on top of the soil, it will not remove the nitrogen.
The mulch should not be placed near buildings. It has not been treated for insects and could draw termites, so use it in beds away from the house.
Put the mulch on in a layer 3 to 4 inches thick. This will help the soil retain moisture, block sunlight from reaching the soil surface, help control weeds and protect the root system from heat or cold.
The mulch should be spread over the entire bed. 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 mulch should not be piled up around the trunk of the tree; this is called volcano mulching.
With volcano mulching, the tree tends to send its root system into the mulch. Because the mulch layer it too thick, it can reduce the amount of oxygen and water getting to the root system.
The root system will grow into the mulch because of the better growing conditions. However, when the mulch dries out from lack of water, the root system will die.
Plants that have too much mulch around them also tend to produce a second root system.
This root system is above ground and grows into the mulch. When a second root system is produced, the first root system usually dies.
When the main root system dies, the tree will not live very long.
Although Christmas has come and gone, the Christmas tree can help plants flourish this coming year.
Charles Phillips is a retired Columbia County Extension Service agent and operates Hort Consulting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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