For students, getting into the Christmas spirit amounts to hanging one of those Christmas-tree-shaped-air-fresheners from the ceiling, popping bits of tinsel on your bed and shopping for all your presents in the bargain bin at Poundland, which is sort of a rite of passage.
For everyone else, though, Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s 25 days of magic where you get to nonchalantly eat as many mince pies as you can physically stomach, convince your kids that Santa likes a glass of milk but much prefers a pint of San Miguel, and decorate your house in the most garish and outrageous way possible; your Christmas tree taking centre stage as it glistens with fairy lights, colour-coordinated baubles and delicate ornaments you’ve collected over the span of your life.
Come the 27th December, though, the magic starts to look a little weary. There are strands of tinsel littering your floor, bin bags of wrapping paper lining your hallway and needles dropping off so fast and furiously you’re living room carpet looks like it’s made of artificial grass. But despite common belief, your Christmas tree has still got plenty of life (read: use) left in her even though the big day has been and gone.
So, before you ask your eldest child to help you carry your tree out the front door, toss it onto the roof of your car and drive it off to some dump somewhere, we have come up with four ingenious ways you can recycle your Christmas tree this year, and all it involves is your garden.
1. Give The Gift Of Shelter
Once the time comes to reclaim your living room, take your Christmas tree out back – the stand and all – and leave it there until Spring comes around. Not only will you be able to fill that empty spot in your garden and have something a little prettier to look at while you plough on with the washing up, you will also be doing a good deed by helping wildlife this winter. “How?” We hear you gasp in disbelief. Well, the answer is, you’ll be giving the birds in your area a bit of extra shelter during the colder season. How philanthropic is that? Of course, if your garden is already rich with evergreens, then what you should do instead is remove the stand from your tree and lay it on its side so that the ground-based animals in your garden – the rabbits, mice, voles, triceratops’ etc. – all have a place they can go to get warm and snuggly.
2. Protect Your Perennials
Another great way of recycling your tree is to lop off the bigger branches with a pair of shears and then lay these over your plants (and by “these”, we obviously mean the branches and not your shears). Anyway, the reason you should do this is your perennials are going to have a hard enough time surviving the winter, especially those plants that are a little more fragile in the face of frost. So covering them up with some nice, warm, furry branches may be the lifeline they need. Sure, it’s a little bit of effort – especially if you had a Christmas of excess, shall we say – but this little bit of extra-padding could be the difference between losing some good plants to the dreaded winter kill and seeing them burst to life again next spring.
3. Keep Calm And Compost
Ask any connoisseur of compost what makes the best base and they will proudly tell you it’s a thin layer of branches. Yes, that includes the branches of your Christmas tree. It sort of uses the same principles as starting a fire, in the sense it allows a touch of air to rise up from the bottom, which will help your branches start to break down. To walk you through it step by step, what you want to do is a) cut the branches off your tree, b) trim them down so that they fit inside your compost bin, c) stack them so they’re about five inches high and then d) start adding your other composting tidbits. You know, things like your leftover scraps from Christmas day and the loose leaves you raked off your lawn, and your hoover bag of pine needles and the lint from your dryer and all that stuff. As Jeremy Clarkson would say, do all this and you’ll have the best compost pile in the world.
4. Thank You Very Mulch
Now, you may have just laughed out our rubbish pun, before being slapped by the sudden realisation that you may need to hire some expensive shredder in order to make this recycling dream a reality, but you don’t. You just need to get your sheers out again (we’re sorry; we should have mentioned that before you put them back in the shed) and then cut your Christmas tree branches into thinner pieces, about two inches long. Once you’ve done this (which we admit, is a bit of a mucky chore), pop your slippers-slash-wellies on and add your little tree bits to the mulched paths between your veggie patches. Here’s the best bit: your paths will smell absolutely amazing when you walk along them. It’s a real treat, like allowing yourself a chai latte in the morning on your way to work – simple but so pleasurable.