Proctor: Put your Christmas tree to good use

4:49 PM, Dec 30, 2012   |    comments
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While it's a good thing that most Christmas trees go to municipal recycling programs that produce mulch, there's a better use for them in your own garden.

Wood mulch is fine when used at the base of trees to protect them from weed whackers, or for garden paths, but it should not be applied to flower beds.

Consider instead lopping the boughs off the tree and using them as protection for vulnerable plants. The boughs act as a mini-windbreak and help trap snow.

Boughs also help moderate the destructive freeze and thaw cycle of winter that can damage plants. As the boughs dry out they will also drop their needles, which-- unlike mulch--are small enough to break down in a reasonable time and help to enrich the soil.

Vulnerable plants that can benefit from a light covering of evergreen boughs include fall-planted pansies, thyme, lavender, coral bells and Lenten roses. Think back about which plants have suffered most from cold, desiccating winds in the past and cover them.

Pull the evergreen boughs off in March or whenever the worst of the really cold weather has passed. Then add them to your compost pile to break down further, perhaps chopping the branches into smaller bits.

Don't forget, with the continuing cold weather, it is vitally important to feed and provide water for birds. It takes a huge amount of calories for them to withstand the cold.

This need will continue well into spring when more natural food sources become abundant.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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