The holidays are over. The Christmas tree is bedraggled and has probably become a terrible fire hazard. It’s time to get it out of the house. Please don’t just put it out for garbage pickup. Many Colorado municipalities have tree recycling programs. Some have curbside pickup along with your normal waste pickup. Others have drop-off sites where the trees are chipped and made into mulch. Often, this mulch is available free in the springtime. Call your local recycling agency for details.
You can also recycle the boughs and use them as mulch in your own yard. Cut the boughs off the trunk, or larger branches, and place them on your perennial beds. The boughs will protect dormant plants from drying out as fast as if they were fully exposed. They’ll also keep the plants dormant longer because the soil temperature won’t rise as quickly on sunny winter days. Be sure to remove the boughs as the plants start to emerge from dormancy in the spring. Then chop boughs into small pieces and add them to your compost pile to provide some acidity.
Boughs are fine for plants that should remain dormant all winter like peonies, hostas and delphiniums, but you don’t need boughs for our climate-adapted plants like penstemons, buckwheat or iris. These continue to grow in our sunny winter weather, and are adapted to the vagaries of precipitation and temperature that our rapidly changing climate offers.
Christmas trees are a wonderful way to start a new recycling year.
For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension fact sheet(s).