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Knowledge to Grow by Karen Weiland - Recycle Your Tree

Now that the holidays are past us, it’s time to take the Christmas tree down. If you have used a real tree take the time to give it another use. Real trees are biodegradable, which means they can be easily reused or recycled for mulch or other purposes.

Most counties have free drop-off locations to recycle your tree. First, remove all of the decorating debris and then when dropping off the tree do not leave it in the plastic bag if you are using one. The composting facilities will take live (not artificial) trees, garland and wreath greenery (no metal or wire) seven days a week during daylight hours. Some of the composting facilities in the area are across from Lakeland High School in LaGrange, adjacent to the 4-H Fairgrounds in Angola, northwest of Auburn on CR 36A and on West Wayne St. in Kendallville.

If you have any questions for the composting facility personnel you can reach them at 1-800-777-5462 or visit their website at

In Sturgis, Mich., the composting facility is located at the city landfill on Fawn River Rd. between Lakeview and Nottawa streets.

I like to erect my tree in the backyard near the bird feeder. It provides a sheltered place for birds to wait for their turn at the feeder. Decorate the tree with strung popcorn and cranberries. Arrange slices of apples, oranges and leftover breads in the tree. Pine cones slathered with peanut butter then rolled in birdseed and placed on the tree provides a tasty treat for feathered friends. I like to nestle these treats to the inside of the tree where they are less likely to be covered in snow.

Another recycling idea is to sink the tree into a private pond. They make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish. In shallow wetlands, trees can act as barriers to sand and soil erosion.

The boughs can be cut off and used like a blanket on top of plants that may be marginally hardy in our area or that are susceptible to windburn. With so many options there is no reason not to recycle your tree.

Happy New Year and Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at

The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange County.