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ways to use Christmas trees after Christmas

paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17444
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
A use for the Christmas tree after Christmas. A mat for just outside your door. Or maybe for paths. Excellent for keeping the mud and other barn gick out of your house. Also helps with traction on slippery days. Not just frugal, but free!

Monica from At Wits End Homestead is our how-to tour guide with this quick video. She points out that this is a Finnish custom - her husband is from Finland.

It doesn't have to be Christmas trees. It can be any conifer/pine/fir/spruce branches. Wipe your feet in the winter, and then the branches break down to feed the soil in spring.

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Mike Dayton

Joined: Dec 15, 2010
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
I am a member of a local group that recycles Christmas Trees. They did chip alot of them for mulch, but we used a goodly number to make fish habitate in a new flood control dam. We got broken cement blocks for free from a local vender and drilled a hole through the trunk of the christmas tree. We then strung the trees and cement blocks toghter with a cable. The Flood control lake was totally flat on the bottom and offered no place for small fish to hide. When the lake was first filled the trees were in place. The trees rot after a few years, but the lake is now one of the best Bass fisheries in the area.

Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world,  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. Formerly pa_friendly_guy_here
paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17444
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
Chicken bedding

paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17444
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
And, of course, hugelkultur style raised bed gardens

Raven Sutherland

Joined: Nov 09, 2010
Posts: 141
Location: Massachusetts
I use them as a bird feeder/shelter for when the blizzards hit
and i place it right up against my office window for entertainment.

I remove the window screen so i can just open the window
and re-stock the seed and suet cakes just after a storm.

On the window sill i place a short board that has a section of hollow
log that has a "port" hole in one side for easy viewing which
provides shelter and three way access for wrens.

In the spring....
when the tree has turned brown i reuse the branches to smother out
poison ivy where ever it may be growing. The tree Costs $100 dollars
and it has been purchased by a friend who just wants it gone.

Digging around on a piece of ground in my home town
waiting for someone or something to show me the way.
Oliver Griswold

Joined: Jan 03, 2012
Posts: 5
We have a new tradition on ranch to pickup everyone's curbside dumped christmas tree to use as bedding and winter footing for our scottish highland cattle and berkshire pigs. Somewhat in the same vein as the post-Halloween pumpkin field gleaning.

Marshall Township, PA

Seren Manda

Joined: May 09, 2011
Posts: 62
Location: Northern Cali, USA -zone 9-
I cut the branches off mine to cover my worm/compost pit (layer of mulberry leaves underneath the pine) to keep the cats out of it.

[Thumbnail for IMG_0086.jpg]

Adventures in Gardening! | Live Happy and Prosper |
Alex Ojeda

Joined: Oct 20, 2010
Posts: 303
paul wheaton wrote:And, of course, hugelkultur style raised bed gardens

I thought that pine was a bad thing in Hügelkultur. No? Should you use just one tree per mound or can you load it up?
Mike Dayton

Joined: Dec 15, 2010
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
Pine is not the BEST wood to use. But it turns out all wood will rot. If it came out of the ground, it can go back into the ground. Pine is a bit more acidic than some trees, but it will work if you do not have other things to use. That is my best advise.
John Wheeler

Joined: Nov 06, 2011
Posts: 41
Location: Slippery Rock, PA
Of course, you can always turn Christmas tress into biochar

Susanna de Villareal-Quintela

Joined: May 01, 2010
Posts: 143
I feed mine to the my horses. Of course, I harvest my own from a local farmer who doesn't douse the trees in anything toxic. In the spring the remains become biochar.
Brad Davies

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 213
Location: Clarkston, MI
Awesome thread!

I just got the OK to run some chicken tractors at a local Christmas tree farm this summer. When I met with the owners son and did a walk around I noticed a ton, 30 - 100 didn't count, pre-cut trees left over from Dec. I asked him what they do with them and he said they burn them. I offered to take all of them for him, he said, "Sure, why?" I told him briefly about chicken bedding, hugelkulture, and composting. He seemed pretty interested then pointed out a pile of wood chips, maybe 100 yards, varying in age from last year to 6 years ago and said I can take as much of that as I want too. They run a lawn and tree service in the summer and just pile up the chipped wood and lawn clippings on the back 40, oh the possibilities....

SE, MI, Zone 5b "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
~Thomas Edison
Austin Max

Joined: Mar 15, 2012
Posts: 98
Location: South Central Kentucky
Not really the season but... Heres an installation I did during college. It's made of about 30 christmas trees I snagged off the curb while living in the city. The room is 9' x 16' with about 11 foot tall ceiling

[Thumbnail for IMG_8073.JPG]

Dan Grubbs

Joined: Nov 30, 2012
Posts: 446
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
Habitat is a great use. I love this use, too ...

Coniferous trees are excellent when used to help stop stream or river bank erosion. The key to stopping bank erosion is to slow water down enough to keep it from scouring and slow it enough to let it drop its silt. We use coniferous trees and cable them down or weigh them down firmly on the bottom of the transition of a stream bank. So, we line them up on their sides tip to trunk with a slight overlap just as the curve of the river bottom starts to turn up to be a steep bank (the transition). This is done most commonly on the outside of a river bend (going downstream). This not only helps reduce scouring, it slows down the water enough to both let it drop the silt and also filters silt in the needles allowing it to build up while letting water pass.

Zone 5/6
Annual rainfall: 40 inches / 1016 mm

Kansas City area discussion going on here:
Joel Nisly

Joined: Dec 17, 2013
Posts: 5
Location: Zone 9b
Alex Ojeda wrote:
paul wheaton wrote:And, of course, hugelkultur style raised bed gardens

I thought that pine was a bad thing in Hügelkultur. No? Should you use just one tree per mound or can you load it up?

I did small hugel beds using about a dozen Christmas trees of various varieties. I dug down 6 or 8 inches, cut the branches off the trunks and put the trunks down first and the branches on top along with leaves and other yard waste and chicken manure, and put the soil back on top for a total height of about 18 inches to 2 feet. I haven't eliminated irrigation, but the picture below was the result this year.

Alex, I saw in your YouTube video that you that you bury yours about 18 inches deep now and keep the wood below ground level. I live in a Mediterranean climate, so I don't have the sand to contend with that you do, but we get less rain, so I'd like to try that. One modification I have made since this picture is to turn the pathways into on-contour swales, and that seems to working well in our winter rains.
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link:
subject: ways to use Christmas trees after Christmas