October 30th, 2020

Let your Christmas tree work for you

By Kalinowski, Tim on January 3, 2020.

Lethbridge Herald

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is suggesting people consider leaving their old Christmas trees in their backyards instead of throwing them out when the holiday season ends.

Dan Kraus, NCC’s senior conservation biologist, says leaving an old tree in the backyard over the winter can provide many benefits for wildlife.

“Evergreens offer a safe place for birds to rest while they visit your feeder,” says Kraus. “Another benefit is that if you leave the tree in your garden over the summer, it will continue to provide habitat for wildlife and improve your soil as it decomposes.”

By spring, the tree will have lost most of its needles. Simply cut the tree branches, lay them where spring flowers are starting to emerge in your garden and place the trunk on soil, but not on top of the flowers.

Kraus says the tree branches and trunk can provide habitat, shelter wildflowers, hold moisture and help build the soil, mimicking what happens with dead trees and branches in a forest. Toads will seek shelter under the log, and insects,including pollinators such as carpenter bees, will burrow into the wood.

“By fall, the branches and trunk will begin to decompose and turn into soil,” says Kraus. “Many of our Christmas trees, particularly spruce and balsam fir, have very low rot resistance and break down quickly when exposed to the elements. The more contact the cut branches and trunk have with the ground, the quicker it will decompose. Drilling holes in the tree trunk will speed up that process.”

For those not wanting to have a decaying tree in their backyard or for those who do not have backyards, local Pathfinders and Girl Guides will be collecting old Christmas trees for City mulching crews on Jan. 11. Trees must be out where garbage or recycling is normally picked up by 7 a.m. that day.

The mulch produced by the operation will be used in local parks.

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