10 Great Ways to "Repurpose" Old Christmas Trees (Christmas Tree Rescue)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

It was Friday, the first Friday of the New Year, 2017.  A beautiful sunny afternoon as my daughter and I drove down the street lined with garbage bins, recycling containers and discarded Christmas trees.  All of a sudden I could feel a rush of excitement!  "For garbage?  Are you crazy?", you might be thinking.  It wasn't the garbage that I was excited about, but the Christmas trees.  I have been waiting for this day for almost a year!
You see, last winter, I was visited by many hawks (amazing creatures they are indeed, but not in my backyard, thank-you).  The hawks preyed upon the beautiful songbirds that would visit my backyard.  The birds would happily twitter and flit about my Sunburst Locust, stopping at one feeder or another for some delicious treat.  The problem was, that my large, now leaf barren tree, did little to camouflage the songbirds, and unwittingly, I was laying out a smorgasbord for the hawks!  So, I was determined to add some places of respite for the songbirds this year, away from the hawk-eyes that were always on the lookout.  Unfortunately, I had neither the space, nor the funds to put any permanent trees or bushes in over the summer.  Hence, the long explanation as to why I was so excited to hit the jackpot with all of those discarded Christmas trees!
Discarded Christmas trees can be used for a great number of things, which I list later on in this blog.  
My primary objective however, was to make a little Bird and Animal refuge in my backyard. 

So the gathering began...

  My backyard before the great Christmas tree expedition...

  My backyard, after the hitting the Christmas tree jackpot...

 Ta-da, instant forest.

Then it was time to let the real fun begin! 

Using the entire tree...

For many of these suggestions it's best to use a tree that hasn't been treated with any chemicals or preservatives.  Once you are done with the trees, and the wood has dried out, if not being used for other things, it can be broken down quite easily for composting, and used in different places throughout your garden.

Create an animal sanctuary 

1.  Remove all decorations (including tinsel etc.) and place the Christmas tree in your yard...tree stand and all.  If you don't have a stand, you can just use the snow to hold the tree upright.  Then it's time to get creative... Decorate with garland made of cranberries, dried cherries, dried apple slices, or peanuts. Sprinkle bird seed on the snow laden boughs.  Make your own little bird feeders using pine cones smeared with Bark Butter, or plain suet and press seeds, nuts or mealworms onto them.  Now watch your tree come alive with a bountiful buzz of beautiful bustling birds (wow, that was a mouthful).  A wonderful addition to any yard!

Look who came to visit right away...

Male Junco

Grey Squirrel

Pinterest has some great ideas on how to decorate your tree for beauty and bird feeding...

2.  Lay the tree down in the corner of your yard to provide shelter for wildlife.  Not only for the little mammals, but for beneficial insects as well!

3.  Have a natural pond or lake?  You can either sink the tree, or just throw it in to create hiding  and feeding places for overwintering fish.

Cutting the tree up  

4.  Pine needles make great mold-free mulch.
5.  Boughs can be laid over perennial gardens to protect plants during the coldest part of winter (yes, it's still yet to come!)
6. Get together with neighbours and rent a chipper machine.  Split the cost, and get some great woodchips out of the deal.  Make this a social event.

Make something crafty

I must say, that the possibilities seem endless, so I have made a list of some suggestions, but really, your imagination is the only limit.

7. Use crushed needles to make a DIY natural potpourri.  Adding cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc. to make the perfect scent.

8. Use cut boughs in planters, wreaths or garland, for long lasting winter decorations.

9. Make wall art, scarf, jewelry or coat hooks, coaster, yard decorations, Christmas tree decorations for next year.

10.  One of my favourite uses...make a simple bird feeder by cutting a 1-2 foot section of the trunk, drilling 1 inch holes into it, and filling it with Bark Butter, hang, and wait for the woodpeckers to come a pecking!

I bet you will never look at your old Christmas tree the same way again...or for that matter... the trees at the curb.  ;)   Instead of seeing waste disposal, you will see animal sanctuaries, gardening help, endless decorating and craft ideas.

As for me, my birds are happy, well, all except the hawks and shrikes that is!! ;)

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