How To Dispose Of A Real Christmas Tree

Statewide Iowa — For many people, New Year’s is the time when the Christmas tree comes down and decorations are packed away.

Adam Janke, assistant professor in natural resources ecology and management and extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State University, offers some special tips for getting rid of your live Christmas tree after the holiday season.

Trees can be disposed of in many different ways. If the trees are clean, they can be set out in yards, along forest edges, in old fields, pastures or other idle areas to provide shrubby habitat for birds and rabbits, according to Janke.

If the property is not your own, be sure to ask permission before disposing of your tree. Explain the benefits to wildlife and the environment, but understand that leaving your tree behind is at the discretion of the land owner.

He says you can also improve fish habitat with leftover Christmas trees. Janke says if you have ponds with fish in them, tie two concrete blocks to the trees and set them in a deep spot of the pond on the ice this winter and let it sink to become a habitat for fish in the spring.

Outdoor burning can also be accomplished, but requires safe distance from other structures and should be done with care, since pine needles ignite and burn fast. He advises you to check your local ordinances before burning your tree.

He says you should not burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove. Dry, evergreen branches literally explode when burned and could cause a house fire. Also, burning the tree may contribute to the buildup of creosote and lead to a flue fire.

Janke says whatever you decide to do with your trees, be sure to consider environmentally friendly options and the opportunity to improve wildlife habitat.

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