Sunday, January 8, 2012

Repurposing the Christmas Tree = Winter Mulch

All decorations are off?
Looks sad,
but it's easy to move.

Our Christmas tradition is to leave our tree up through Epiphany, all 12 days of Christmas.  In years before we started cutting our own tree, that could be a messy experience when taking down the decorations and moving it outside.

More recently, rather than having the town recycle the entire tree, we have been cutting off the branches indoors and slipping them into a big plastic bag.  Cutting the branches in this way allows one final inspection for missing ornaments.

The branch-less tree is now much easier to take out of the stand and move outside.  As for the branches, these make an excellent winter mulch.  They shade the ground and reduce the affects of freezing and thawing.  In the spring they are easy to remove.

The shallow-growing Heuchera, under these branches, are
susceptible to frost heaves.  A good winter mulch reduces this effect.

I especially like to use these evergreen branches on the German Irises.  These Irises like to stay close to the soil surface, and this way I have not added any 'soil' on top of them.  

Branches over the German Irises.  In the spring
I just pull away the branches and the Irises are ready to go.

For the rest of my winter mulching I will spread out the remainder of my chopped up leaves from this past autumn.  These I will allow to decompose in place to build the soil.

If your tree is already out of the house, it's not too late to harvest some of the branches for use as a convenient winter mulch.


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I often think that with retailers trying to push the holidays up each year, that most people no longer know there are 12 days to Christmas! I love that you repurposed your tree. I think anyone with a garden should put their tree to work in the garden, it's valuable organic material!

R. Greenberg said...

How do you keep your branches over the plants? My x-mas branch mulch has been blowing all over the yard because we haven't had snow cover to weigh the braches down.

Curtis said...

Yes, blowing around can be a problem. Many of the branches are rather flat 'sprays' and don't catch the wind as well as the more irregular branches. Sometimes I jam the one end of the branch into the the ground (if not frozen) and that helps a little.