Cleaning up after Christmas

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Trees can be recycled, returned to nature

By Beth Herrinton-Hodge

Where do discarded Christmas Trees go once they’ve graced our homes?

Some people put their trees out in a backyard fire pit, allowing trees to dry until spring before burning with other garden refuse. Others take them to the county landfill in Waddy. There are also opportunities to put old trees to good use through recycling at home or through sites in Shelbyville and Shelby County.

“The boughs and mulch from discarded trees provide a number of uses in a backyard garden,” said Jeneen Wiche, a syndicated gardening columnist who lives on a farm in Simpsonville. “We cut up boughs and use them as mulch over tender perennials. These can also be used in high traffic areas that may become muddy in the wet winter months.”

Whole trees set in the backyard provide shelter from cold winds for birds and small animals. If you have a wood chipper, the pine chips can be used as a top cover over flower beds.

The Shelbyville Public Works department will pick up discarded trees for residents within city limits.

“Our guys will pick up trees after the first of the year, just call the department and provide your address and leave the tree at the curb,” says Jennifer Herrell City Engineer/Public Works Director.

The phone number for pick-up is 633-1094.

“In the past, we’ve had a farmer take discarded trees from our lot to his farm. He uses the larger trees in training his hunting dogs,” she said. “The trees he doesn’t take, we chip at our Kentucky Street lot and use the mulch at sites around town. The mulch is also free to the public. If people want to pick up a load to use in their gardens and yards, they are welcome to it, as long as we have a mulch pile. We do the same with mulched leaves. Just call ahead to let us know you’re coming.”

Those living outside the city’s service area can recycle their trees at Guist Creek Marina and Campground.

“Fish and Wildlife manages the tree collection,” said Brad Way with the marina. “They use them in the lake to attract fish. People can drop them off by the ramp. There’s a sign marking the spot, and you’ll see other trees there.”

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Management also offers tree recycling at several other locations around the state, putting old tress to good use. When several trees are tied together and weighted, they provide fish attractor sites in lakes. In deep water, submerged trees attract largemouth bass, white and black crappie, bluegill, redear and catfish. Discarded trees are also set in shallow waters to serve as spawning sites.

With a little planning, your beautiful Christmas tree can be repurposed for a good cause when recycled and returned to nature.