Go, Christmas tree

Published 8:50 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Christmas spirit might last all year long in the hearts of some, but your live Christmas tree will not.

When the needles start browning and dropping, the tree has become a major fire hazard, and it’s time to give some thought to how to get rid of your natural décor, according to a press release from AskHRgreen.org.

The obvious answer is to get it out of the house, but what you do with it once it’s out is up to you.

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The easiest thing to do, if you live in Suffolk, is to place it at the curb on your regular trash day. If you do so by Jan. 6, the tree will not count toward the 12 free special collections that each household receives each year. Those put out for collection after Jan. 6 will still be collected, but they will count toward your yearly allotment.

As long as you’re carrying holiday stuff to the curb, the same goes for boxes. The trees don’t have to be secured, and the boxes don’t have to be collapsed.

In Isle of Wight County, trees can be accepted at any of the county’s recycling centers. In Chesapeake, trees will be picked up on the regular trash day if you place them separately from bulk waste and regular trash.

But there are a lot of other ways to “spruce” up your yard by giving your old Christmas tree a second life. The website thisoldhouse.com lists some ways to reuse the Christmas tree:

  • Mulch the entire tree and use the mulch throughout the year.
  • Create a bird sanctuary: Prop up the tree outdoors and fill bird feeders and hang them from the boughs, or drape the tree with a swag of pinecones coated in peanut butter.
  • Cut off boughs and lay them over perennial beds to protect them from snow.
  • Cut the trunk into 2-inch discs and set them into the soil to edge flower beds or walkways.
  • If you have a pond, and your tree is chemical-free, toss it into the water to provide habitat for fish.
  • Saw the trunk into different lengths and use the pieces as flowerpot risers for a dramatic group display.
  • Make coasters and trivets: Cut thin slabs off the trunk, sand them smooth and apply a thin coat of polyurethane to keep the sap sealed in.
  • Rent a chipper — see if your neighbors will help split the cost. Use the wood chips under your shrubs next spring.
  • Strip small branches and use the remaining twigs to support indoor potted plants or stake seedlings.

Before taking your tree outside, remember to remove all lights, tree stands and decorations, including tinsel, ornaments and wires, according to AskHRgreen.org. Painted trees or those covered in fake snow shouldn’t be left outside, as these materials could be harmful to animals.

As for unwanted decorations, most do not belong in your curbside recycling container. Consider donating unwanted but working ornaments and decorations to a local school or thrift store, according to AskHRgreen.org.