What you can do with your leftover Christmas tree

As the holidays come to a close, it's time to start cleaning up and that includes getting rid of your Christmas tree. Here are three things you can do with the leftover evergreen.

In the backyard for the birds

The Nature Conservancy of Canada says leaving your Christmas tree in the backyard instead of sending it to the landfill will provide important habitat for bird populations during the winter months, especially on cold nights and during storms.

You can prop it up near another tree, against a fence or lay it in your garden. Redecorating it with pine cones filled with peanut butter and/or strings of peanuts will provide food for birds while they find shelter in the tree.

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"That little bit of warmth can be beneficial for birds because we've lost 2.9 billion birds in the last 50 years ... in Canada and the U.S. due to climate change, loss of habitat, [and] cats," said Andrew Holland with the non-profit organization. "So anything we can do to help birds sort of get by and give them a fighting chance to survive, it's a good thing and it's inexpensive." 

In the spring, the tree branches and trunk can provide good habitat for wildflowers as it will hold moisture and help build the soil, mimicking what happens with dead trees and branches in a forest. Toads will seek shelter under the log, and insects including pollinators such as carpenter bees can burrow into the wood, especially if holes are drilled in the trunk.

Donate it to the Rideau Canal Skateway

The National Capital Commission takes Christmas trees and displays them at all the rest areas along the Rideau Canal Skateway. The trees also act as shelter so people can stay warm.

The NCC usually recovers more than 1,200 Christmas trees every holiday season. After they're used, the trees are chipped and composted. People can leave their trees in tree drop off area along Colonel By Drive, just west of the Bronson Avenue Bridge.

Leave it to the city

Christmas trees will be collected on the same day as the green bin, according to the City of Ottawa website.

People are asked to remove all decorations and place trees at the curb no later than 7 a.m. on your scheduled collection day.  

Trees will not be collected if wrapped in plastic bags or if frozen in snow banks. The city is also reminding residents there's no collection of green bin, recycling and garbage on certain statutory holidays including New Year's Day.