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Recycle your Christmas tree
The Great Bend Compost Site, shown in this undated file photo, accepts used Christmas trees. - photo by Dale Hogg Great Bend Tribune file photo

There are several ways to recycle a Christmas tree, some of which are right in our own backyard, literally.

Of course, you can plant your Christmas tree if the root ball is intact. According to, dig a hole roughly 2 feet in diameter and 18 inches deep. As a planting rule of thumb, the hole should be dug about the depth of the root ball and 1.5 to 2 times the diameter.

Even if you don’t have the roots, a whole Christmas tree makes an excellent bird feeder for a backyard. Stick the tree in the ground or place it in a corner of your deck and spread some birdseed nearby, or attach suet, cranberry and popcorn strings, stale bread and dried, chopped fruit in mesh bags. A variety of birds will come for the food and stay for the shelter.

Compost sites

If you don’t want to keep the tree, take it to a compost site so someone else can use it.

City of Great Bend Street Supervisor Tony Bronson is responsible for overseeing the city’s compost site located off Railroad Avenue and the end of Pat Keenan Memorial Road and SW 10 Road. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Used Christmas trees are accepted at the facility. They are set off to the side along the south fence.

They should be stripped of all ornaments. Local sandpit owners will sort through the trees, taking the clean ones without decorations and flocking to use as fish habitats in their ponds. The Great Bend Brit-Spaugh Zoo also chooses trees from this pile. Animals love the enrichment opportunities these trees provide, according to Zoo Supervisor and Curator Ashley Burdick.

Ellinwood residents may also take trees to that city’s compost site, located just north of town near the airport.

Hoisington City Manager Jonathan Mitchell said the Hoisington burn site, located southeast of town at 150 NE 100 Road, also accepts trees and people are free to pick them up for their ponds or other projects.

At any site, make sure to strip the trees of ornaments, hooks and tinsel. 

Tips for recycling

Here are some more tree recycling tips from and from a previous Great Bend Tribune column written by Alicia Boor, the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-state Research and Extension:

• Sinking your Christmas tree in a pond is an easy way to improve fish habitat and fishing. To sink a tree, tie the base to a cinder block with a short, stout rope, and toss it in. 

• Cut off all the branches and use the trunk to edge a garden. The trunk can also be strategically placed in your garden as a resting spot for birds, squirrels and other little critters.  

• Place whole evergreen boughs on perennial beds or nursery rows to protect them from winter freezes and spring thaws. The boughs provide the steady temperatures that most plants need. Or, just use the boughs as post-Christmas house decorations.

• Have the tree chipped at a local garden center and use it for ground cover or mulch.  

• The trunk can be sawed into logs and burned in your fireplace. Let is dry for a few weeks first. Just beware that most conifer species tend to spark and pop more than hardwoods, as resin pockets in the wood make tiny explosions. This can delight the youngsters, but for safety’s sake, keep an eye on the fire when burning Christmas tree logs! And don’t burn the branches, since they can send off sparks.  

• Both trunk and branches can be used by woodworking hobbyists to make any number of items, such as Christmas reindeer, birdhouses, candlesticks or paperweights.  

• Use the needles to make aromatic potpourris and sachets to enjoy year-round. After removing the decorations, strip branches of their needles, which will retain their pungency indefinitely in brown paper bags.

• If permitted in your community, burn the branches and spread the ashes in your garden. The branches contain valuable nutrients and minerals that can enrich the soil and help yield better flowers and vegetables.

What is Falling Needles Family Fest?

 Falling Needles Family Fest Day, celebrated every year on Dec. 30, reminds us to clean up Christmas trees and recycle  them. Observe the day by getting the family together and cleaning up after the Christmas tree. Use #FallingNeedlesFamilyFest Day to post on social media.