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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

January 3, 2023 - 9:54am --

Christmas is over, now what to do with the tree?  If you have an artificial tree, box it back up until next year. Or as some do, cover it with a sheet and wait until next year.  Artificial trees CAN NOT be recycled so do not put them in the County recycle bins.

If you purchased a real tree, you are not alone as more and more people are going back to a real tree for the holidays.  There is nothing like the smell of a real tree.  There is also nothing like picking up needles if you don’t water the tree enough or leave it up too long.  The biggest issue is what to do with the tree after the season.  The following are some suggestions.

  • If you buy a live root ball tree, keep it well watered.  Then plant it as soon as you can.  To help with this process, pre dig the hole while the weather is nice, and the ground is not frozen.  Be sure to take the wire cage off and make cuts in the burlap up to help the roots to grow out the next spring.  Be sure to stake the tree when you plant it, so the wind doesn’t lean it over.  You can take the stakes off the second growing season.  Also be sure to keep the plant well-watered the first year to ensure good root development.  Also remember to not plant under a powerline or a space the tree will outgrow.  Think of the size of the tree when fully grown, not the small tree you bought.
  • If you have a cut (once live) tree, there are some landscaping companies that will accept your trees to grind up to make mulch.  Holmes County Soil and Water Conservation will accept your cut real trees until January 20th.  They will take them and make them into wildlife habitat.  You can drop them at their office at 62 W Clinton St, Millersburg, OH 44654.  Again, like the artificial trees, real trees are not recyclable and should not be put in the County recycle bins.
  • Another option is to use the tree for wildlife benefits.
    • Stake it up in your backyard or out in the woods and the birds and critters will use it for protection.  If stake the tree upright or tie tree up to another tree you can put bird feeders on the branches for the birds to get food in winter when food becomes scarcer.
  • The pine needles make a great mulch, and you can use the rest of the tree for firewood.
  • If you have a pond, they make great attractors for small fish to use for protection.  You can place them next to shore for safe harbor for small fish to hide from the larger fish trying to eat them.  Use can also place them in deeper water for the larger fish to hide in too.  Either place you put them tie a cement block to them to sink them down and keep them from moving around.  The key is to remember where you put them in the ponds as they will also be great at snagging your fishing hooks the next summer.

Real Christmas trees will add a wonderful smell to your home.  There are ways to keep them fresh for the season.  Once bought or cut from your land, store them in a cool, dry place to keep the weather off them.  Bounce them to get excess needles off and any critters or bugs that may be hiding in there.  Make a fresh cut of an inch or two and water the tree as soon as up and secured well.  Keep watering the tree as long as you have it inside to keep it from drying out as fast and dropping its needles as fast.  If you buy a tree early, make the cuts and start watering it in the cool dry location until you take it in the house.  If not bought from a local tree farm the tree could have been cut weeks to months ago and shipped here.  Keeping it in water will help it stay fresh longer.


Gary Graham PhD, Ag & Natural Resources Educator, Holmes County