Use these tips to continue your Green celebration after the holidays

In your home and yard, and all around your community, there are so many ways you can use Christmas trees after the holidays to help the environment and help ensure that our forests can remain abundant for many generations of happy holidays to come.

  • Don’t just recycle, treecycle - Look online or in your local paper for community treecycling programs. Sometimes these are held to benefit a local charity or other worthy cause. Many municipalities also offer to pick up your tree at the curbside. The trees are then turned into mulch for playgrounds and beautification projects. Call 1-800-Cleanup or visit cleanup.org for treecycling opportunities near you. Source: Earth 911 (www.cleanup.org)

  • Make next year’s presents out of this year’s tree - To create holiday potpourri or sachets, let the branches dry, then remove and crumble the needles. Mix with cinnamon sticks, cloves or any other favorite Christmas scents. Place this potpourri mixture into tightly sealed jars. Or sew sachet squares and fill.

    Make votive candle holders by cutting the trunk of your tree into round cross sections of varying thicknesses. Using a router, carve out a center circle to hold a votive candle. Cluster three or more together for a pleasing mantle or table top decoration.

    You can make picture frames or picture ornaments by cutting thinner round cross sections, routing out the center and gluing a photo to the back of the cross section. Affix a ribbon hangar at the top back. Use a wood burning tool to write "Christmas 2006" on the front side.

  • Think spring - Christmas trees are great as mulch because they do not have any invasive seeds that will destroy landscaping. Pine needle mulch helps winter soil to retain heat. When spring arrives, the warmed soil encourages early seeding and faster growth. As the season progresses, the mulch stabilizes temperature and moisture, and prevents sunlight from germinating weed seeds. Larger tree branches can be cut into smaller bundles for winter-protective mulch around newly planted perennials and small shrubs. Be sure to remove the branches in spring, when the plants begin to grow again. Chop or grind smaller branches into decorative wood chips to use in flower, tree and shrub beds. Source: National Christmas Tree Assn. (www.christmastree.org)

  • Enjoy the beauty of branches all year long - Use bare Christmas tree branches as you would grapevines—as a base for wreaths and swags. Try lightly spraying them with white paint to give them a snowy, wintry look. Or decorate them with wire-frame ribbon or flowers to match your décor. You can also arrange bare tree branches in a large vase just by themselves, or decorate with picture tree ornaments.

  • Be kind to our fine feathered friends - Winter birds will appreciate using your old Christmas tree for cover in your backyard, especially if you decorate it with bird food ornaments. This is also a good way to keep birds congregating where you want them to and not in the tree branches above your car! Secure the tree trunk to prevent it from rolling away in winter winds by attaching it with wire or twine to a stable support or by staking the tree to the ground. Source: Pick Your Own (www.pickyourownchristmastree.org)

  • Go organic in your garden - Composting is one of the best things you can do for your garden soil, and it’s also another great way to put a real Christmas tree to good use. You can add clippings from your Christmas tree to your compost pile, and a few months later, use them to enrich garden soil. Source: About.com (landscaping.about.com/od/ maintenancesavingmoney/a/recycling_info.htm)

  • Give fish a new home - Christmas trees that are properly weighted down provide a good habitat for fish to be safe and protected. You can use the branches of your tree to make a natural structure in your backyard pond. Or donate your tree to the fish and game department for use in local or state fisheries. Source: National Christmas Tree Assn. (www.christmastree.org)

  • Save our shoreline - Whole Christmas trees are used to stabilize river shoreline and prevent marshland sedimentation. In coastal communities, recycled trees can be donated to make dunes that help alleviate beach erosion. Source: National Christmas Tree Assn. (www.christmastree.org)