Archived Story

How lovely are thy branches

Published 6:43pm Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Live Christmas trees are a traditional part of the season for many, but what should be done when the holidays are over?


The Alabama Environmental Council has a number of suggestions for repurposing an unwanted Christmas tree, as listed at

- Chip it up into mulch to used in your landscaping. (Do not consider this option if you have no or limited prior experience operating a wood chipper.)

- Make bird habitats in the backyard. Secure the trunk of the tree about one foot down into the soil or use a tree stand and decorate the tree with bird seed, nuts, and old fruit. During the rest of the winter your retired Christmas tree will become a songbird’s paradise.

- Old wreaths also make excellent birdhouses. Just hang your retired wreaths on trees and you’ll soon see that nesting birds have made them their new homes.

- Christmas tree branches and old wreaths make the perfect seasonal accent to floral arrangements, flowerpots and winter landscaping.

- Consider using needles for pine-scented potpourri.

- Christmas tree branches can be used to control soil erosion and provide ground cover on eroding surfaces.

- Retired Christmas trees can always be cut into firewood. Let the wood cure and dry for one year. When drying the wood, make sure it is elevated and not touching the ground to prevent it from rotting.

Pass the buck

There are a couple of options for getting rid of your Christmas tree in Alexander City.

- The Central Alabama Electric Cooperative will sponsor a drop-off spot for trees at Winn Dixie until Jan. 2. Trees may be discarded in the designated spot from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. “We chip them up,” said Debra Cleckler, customer service supervisor. “We use the mulch for erosion control.”

- Alexander City Environmental Services will accept trees at its recycling site at 824 Railey Road. Official hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Don’t throw in the lake

Though Christmas trees are known to contribute to fish habitats and provide great fishing spots for anglers, Alabama Power discourages people from dumping their trees in the lake because of the risk of navigational hazards.

“We don’t have a planned habitat placement for Lake Martin this year,” said Alyson Fuqua Tucker with AL Power.

Tucker said AL Power will likely do a planned habitat next year, and they would prefer people refrain from putting trees in the lake until then.

But for people who are determined to submerge their personal tree near their own dock, Tucker said Doug Powell, environmental affairs specialist, should be consulted.

“He either can tell them how to do it safely, or there may be someone in our shoreline group who can come help them,” Tucker said.