Once the parties are over and the presents are unwrapped, the Christmas tree's job is done. Or is it? Once you get it out of the house, that forlorn little evergreen can take on a whole new role.
Sandy beaches can shift around and get washed away if they're not stabilized. Some beachside communities in New Jersey and Long Island place old Christmas trees along their beaches to create dunes. The pine needles capture sand particles flying in the wind. Eventually, the trees are covered up. Plugs of dune grass are then planted on the fresh dunes to hold them in place. The result is a more stable beach, with good habitat for wildlife, and a prettier shoreline for residents.
Depending on where you live, your Christmas tree could be bundled up and placed along stream banks and lake shores. Christmas trees create fantastic habitat for fish, birds, amphibians, and small mammals while they help stabilize sediment. Louisiana, which has some of the most severe wetlands loss in the nation, uses Christmas trees to protect coastal marshes from salt-water intrusion. The trees trap sediments that would otherwise be washed away, and dissipate the energy of waves hitting the shore.
If your town has curb pick-up service for discarded trees, they're often taken to chippers where they're turned into mulch. The mulch is sometimes sold, sometimes given away to residents, or used for city planting projects in the spring.
Simply by placing your old Christmas tree in the yard, you're providing birds and small mammals with good winter shelter. You can always chop your old tree up in the spring. If you're handy with tools, drill out pieces of the trunk and craft rustic bird feeders.