Did you know about 14 million Christmas trees in 2020 were real?
After all the Christmas festivities, it’s time to pack things away. Well, not everything is for packing away, especially the Christmas tree.
Dumping it into the landfill is not a good idea either because you can make something good from it. That’s why most people want to know how to turn a Christmas tree into mulch.
Let’s see below how to say goodbye to a Christmas tree in an eco-friendly way.
The Christmas Tree Mulching Spirit
The gifting period is not through as long as you have a Christmas tree. It’s a gift that continues to give especially to gardeners. Everything about it; needles and branches are perfect additions for your garden.
Turning a Christmas tree into mulch will offer moisture and protection to your garden. But what if you don’t have a garden?
In some cities like New York, there’s usually a tree collection period called mulchfest. This happens after Christmas for two consecutive Saturdays. In 2020, it happened from Dec 26th-Jan 4th, 2021.
During this period, 67 are drop-off sites, and 32 are chipping places. Therefore, New Yorkers drop off their holiday trees at their nearby locations for chipping and recycling. The mulch is majorly nourishing the city trees and plants, enhancing a greener and beautiful NYC.
Still, people with no shredders can have the city do it for them. You just need to do is carry your live Christmas tree to them. They will shred it down to natural mulch that you can take home for your garden.
It would be best to confirm if your local government has similar arrangements. If there’s nothing of the sort, worry not. Read on for more of how you can mulch your Christmas tree by yourself.
How to Mulch a Christmas Tree
Mulch is a layer of material that you put on the soil’s surface. Usually, it’s coarse in texture and has several benefits. Unlike mulch, compost is a soil amendment. It’s something that you add to the soil to enhance the texture and provide more benefits. Good compost is in a complete state of decomposition that you can’t tell what it consists of.
The needles of fir trees make excellent mulch or compost that’s great for berries, azaleas, and heathers. Mulching will be as easy as sweeping up the fallen needles from your sitting room, depending on your tree.
However, some fancy trees are hard to let go of their leaves. So, you will need to cut off the branches from the main trunk. It would help to quicken the process by using a shredder. Otherwise, use your hand to chop into smaller pieces.
Scatter around the small pieces at the base of your plants and allow nature to take control. Moreover, the evergreen branches are perfect insulation against frost, especially for perennial crowns.
But, most of the time, you will only remain with the trunk and bare twiggy stems. Fir trees have timber that takes a prolonged time to rot back. Why so? Usually, the wood has lovely-smelling natural oils that protect the tree from rotting soon.
So, if you want to put them in the compost, ensure you add them at the bottom of a fresh pile. Like creating a good fire, adequate airflow at the bottom will hasten the process. Therefore, a composting pile of slow-rotting branches will make that happen. What’s more?
Conversely, the branches offer excellent support for plants like dwarf peas or broad beans. But, what happens to the remaining trunk? You can use it as an erect in a dead hedge. This hedge consists of all the woody stems that are too hard or big for compost. Ideally, stack them and leave them to rot away gradually.
Because the rotting is very slow, the stack can make a perfect habitat for insects and wildlife. While they are doing this, they make an excellent insect and wildlife habitat. Ensure you lay the branches neatly while stacking to avoid a significant mess if staggered upon. This is the perfect solution for the remaining part of your tree.
Should You Use Fresh Wood For Mulch?
The green thumbs know that a generous layer of mulch is highly beneficial to plants. Some of the importance of mulching includes;
- Minimized weeding
- Cooler summer soil
- Water retention hence less irrigation
- The gradual addition of organic matter because fresh mulch decomposes
All these benefits lead to healthy plants.
However, most gardeners have concerns about using fresh wood chips for mulching. Among the significant problems is that a sick tree might transfer the disease to plants. However, plant pathologists say it’s improbable to spread diseases. Besides, you place wood chips on the soil surface and not into the soil to reach the roots. So, don’t worry, your Christmas tree might cause any diseases to your ornamental plants.
Another concern is allelopathy. This is a process whereby plants produce and release chemicals to suppress the growth of other nearing plants. But, no study supports allelopathy from fresh wood chips on established plants.
A popular misconception is that fresh wood chips shut down nitrogen in decomposition. The truth is, nitrogen depletion will occur when you add the new wood chips into the soil. That’s why it’s essential to only use your Christmas tree chips on the soil surface as mulch.
So, nitrogen depletion would be on the soil surface, making wood chip mulches a perfect seed germination suppressant. Preferably, the rough texture of wood chips would not be ideal for vegetables and annual flower beds. Still, you can add nitrogen or ammonium sulfate in the soil to ensure the plants don’t lack even with the fresh wood mulching.
Fresh wood chips are ideal for wood plants because they cause no nitrogen depletion. However, you can allow your wood plants to mature before using the mulch if you feel worried. Read on.
The Christmas tree provides nutrients when it breaks down. Better still, it improves the soil’s organic matter. This organic matter gets incorporated into the insects that burrow through the earth like earthworms. So, when the organic matter increases, the outcome is healthy plants.
As observed above, it’s a good thing to keep a helpful product like a Christmas tree from the landfill. It’s sustainable and beneficial economically and environmentally to recycle your fresh Christmas tree.
Ideally, you should apply fresh wood chips 4-6 inches deep for best results. Fortunately, they will settle after a few weeks because they break down quickly. Like other organic mulch, you need to keep replenishing the Christmas tree mulch. This is to ensure constant water retention and weed suppression.
Furthermore, avoid stacking them against tree trunks. This leads to fungal diseases and insects because of the steady moisture from the tree trunks. It’s also called mulch volcanoes. Instead, it would help to spread them, so they don’t contact the tree trunks directly.
How Long Does Christmas Tree Mulch Take To Decompose?
Usually, the decomposition starts to occur after a year. This relies on various factors like weather conditions, moisture, and the nature of the tree. After about three years, the mulch will completely break down, providing excellent nutrients to the soil.
Let’s see how the following factors affect the breaking down process.
When there’s more moisture in the soil, the mulch will decompose quickly. Moisture enhances the successful breakdown of nutrients making the earth clear out fast.
Therefore, you need to add more moisture to ensure a speedy decomposition process.
Warm temperatures lead to faster decomposition of the Christmas tree mulch. The soil needs adequate warmth for proper plant growth. Besides, it’s among the significant reasons for adding mulch-maintaining the temperature.
The soil does not get extremely hot with mulch, which is unhealthy for plant growth. The mulch puts more work to protect the soil and plant from high temperatures. That’s why it decomposes faster with high temperatures.
When you set up a Christmas tree, you add some bit of nature into your home. Real or fake, your green spot provides a warm holiday cheer. This is especially ideal at a time when the forests are fading away, turning brown and cold.
But after unwrapping the presents, consuming the leftovers, and safely putting away the ornaments, what next for your glorious display? Sadly, it instantly becomes one of the most significant waste you will have to handle at the start of the year.
But, mulch is the ideal fate for your tree. This is because the trapped carbon remains in the wood can return to the soil. Mulching will need cutting the tree down into small pieces. For those who live in major towns and have no gardens, the public works department will help. They will take your tree and turn it into wood chips useful for playgrounds and parks.