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'Treecycle' Christmas trees for outdoor use
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Careful Mississippians know that the usefulness of a Christmas tree does not have to end with the holidays as the tree can serve other purposes after the decorations come down.
The National Christmas Tree Association calls Christmas tree recycling treecycling and states online that more than 33 million real Christmas trees are sold in North America.
Steve Dicke, forestry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, said a primary way to reuse Christmas trees is to turn them into mulch.
“Most of our cities have a recycling program that chips up the trees for mulch. Some will designate a drop-off location and dates, while others have curbside pickup of Christmas trees,” Dicke said. “Christmas trees make an excellent mulch for landscaping.”
Christmas trees that are not mulched can be chopped into small pieces and composted. Composting is the natural process that breaks down organic matter into nutrient-rich soil. This soil can later be added to existing gardens and flowerbeds to improve the soil.
The Web site of Earth 911, located at http://mississippi.earth911.org/, states it will list details on local treecycling efforts in Mississippi after Dec. 25.
Another way to reuse a real Christmas tree is to give it to the fish.
Katherine Jacobs, an Extension fisheries associate, said Christmas trees are good additions to managed farm ponds. When strategically placed, they attract fish and provide cover before eventually decomposing.
“Small fish will use the trees as protective cover, feeding on the small invertebrates and other food they find there, and larger fish will seek out the smaller fish hiding in the structure the trees provide,” Jacobs said.
Fishermen like the results when fish congregate in a certain part of the pond.
“Like any underwater structure you add, fish congregate at these attractors. Fishermen can catch more fish in that area,” Jacobs said.
Do not place artificial or flocked Christmas trees in ponds. Before sinking a Christmas tree in a farm pond, make sure all decorations and lights are removed. For best results, group two or three Christmas trees together, placing them in water that is 4 to 10 feet deep, and add one or two attractors per acre of water.
“Tie the trees together and weigh them down with weights such as a cinder block or letting the tree trunk harden in a bucket of cement. Mark the locations of the sunken trees so you'll know where they are when the pond water level changes,” Jacobs said.
She had a few words of caution for those recycling Christmas trees as attractors in ponds.
“It's easy to fall over in a boat, so when you're placing the attractors, wear a life preserver and have someone with you in the boat,” Jacobs said. “Don't put these in public water, and make sure you have permission of the landowner if placing trees in private ponds.”