Once Christmas has come and gone, there’s likely a plant in your house whose glory is rapidly fading. Pity the poor evergreen, which rarely gets to see the inside of anyone’s house except for a few short weeks in December. But instead of dumping it in the garbage, here are seven ways to reuse or recycle that tree and put it to good use.

  1. Recycle it. Check with Shreveport Green or the city or parish’s public works department for tree drop off areas. In the past, trees are typically sent through a chipper to be donated to local parks and schools for pathways and landscaping. Sometimes the city will designate certain Christmas tree pickup days and times, so check the city’s website for more information. This removes the burden and mess of transporting it yourself.
  2. Mulch the needles. Put the old tree to work in your own yard as mulch. Just remove your branches and shake off the dead needles. The needles won’t collect mold and they decompose slowly. If your tree is still green, you can also cut off the boughs and lay them over perennial beds to protect them from freezing temperatures (if such a thing exists).
  3. Make DIY coasters. Use your handsaw or hacksaw to cut your Christmas tree trunk into coasters and trivets. Make sure you sand down the surfaces and stain and seal them before using to prevent any sap from leaking.
  4. Make firewood for your fire pit. Chop up your tree and use it as fuel for your fire pit. While the needles will dry out quickly, you will definitely need to wait a few months before the log is dry enough to burn. Don’t ever chop up the wood from a Christmas tree and light it in your fireplace. Evergreens have high levels of creosote, which is basically tar, and can cause extremely dangerous smoke and buildup.
  5. Create a bird sanctuary. If you have the room in your backyard, Christmas trees make excellent bird habitats. Remove all of the decorations, as you want to make sure there is no tinsel or flocking. Place your tree in its stand outdoors. Fill bird feeders and hang them from the boughs, or drape the tree with a swag of pinecones coated with peanut butter.
  6. Create fish food and a habitat. There are scores of lakes and ponds in northwest Louisiana, so you might want to consider dumping your tree into any one that is close by. That old pine or spruce provides a natural and decomposing habitat for fish and will attract algae for them to eat. Just make sure your tree hasn’t been treated with any preservatives that can leach into the water, and check with local authorities so they know you’re a friend of fish and not just chucking your garbage into water.
  7. Throw a chipper party. Rent a wood chipper and invite your friends and neighbors to bring over their Christmas trees for a wood chipping party. Distribute the chips to everyone as mulch and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of a chipper in action. Just don’t get any ideas from Fargo.