Several paths for tree disposal

Q: We’re new to Albuquerque and have enjoyed our first Christmas here. Used to be, the Boy Scouts in our area would collect and dispose of the cut Christmas trees for our community. What do we do with it here? – N.T.K., Albuquerque

A: If you have room in your yard, why not make the tree a feeding station for our local birds?

Un-decorate the tree completely, removing all the tinsel and garland it wore through the holiday. Then set the tree in a spot that’ll be convenient for the birds to visit. Then re-decorate it. Hang suet clumps and popcorn you can string to wrap around the tree. Peanuts in the shell hung in a produce bag that has large enough gaps in it will attract a variety of larger birds. Nowadays you can find all sorts of seed balls and small seed feeders that’d look great hanging in the tree.

Remember to set out a shallow pan of water so your visitors would have even more reason to come to the tree. The birds will find the tree a safe and very pleasant place to come and hang out during this sometimes harsh time of year. You get the added advantage of seeing our feathered friends and having your yard come alive with their songs and calls.

Now, if you don’t have the space to redecorate your tree, consider cutting it up. Using a sharp, stout pair of loppers, cut all of the limbs and branches off the trunk. You can lay those branches, thickly, under rose bushes or surround smallish shrubs and perennials to offer a smidgen more winter protection. Laying the branches over the spring bulb garden you planted in the autumn will keep them at a more consistent temperature and help prevent a condition called “heaving.” Since our climate is at times most pleasant, then wicked cold, the soil temperatures are on a constant roller coaster here. By laying down the branches and limbs you help create a buffer against that upheaval keeping what’s planted at a more constant temperature. That’s a very good thing to do for your gardens in these parts. Then, in the spring, just bundle up the branches to partake of one of the city Solid Waste Management Department’s “green waste” curbside collections. Easy!

If neither of those sound like an appropriate option for you, know, too, that Solid Waste, and cosponsors PNM and Parks and Recreation, will accept your tree at three locations here in the metro area for free. From Jan. 2 to 14, you can deliver the tree and it’ll be ground up to become reusable mulch for the city. The locations are: in the Heights, Eagle Rock Convenience Center, 6301 Eagle Rock NE; in the southeast part of town, Montessa Park Convenience Center, 3512 Los Picaros SE; and here on the West Side, Ladera Golf Course, 3401 Ladera NW.

In the Rio Rancho area you have two options for tree re-cycling: the Rio Rancho Sports Complex, 3501 High Resort SE, or the Sandoval County Landfill, 2708 Iris NE. Their dates for recycling run Jan. 2-12.

By getting your tree to one of these spots you are helping keep an estimated 15,000 trees out of the landfills or clogging up and littering our area.

When you transport the tree – and know you can bring up to five at a time so you could perhaps become the champion of the neighborhood – please be sure to tie the load down securely. There are very few things more frightening than following an unsecured load and have it flung in your path while driving. Please, be safe and considerate of everyone.

So there are several ways to continue using the tree that graced your home during the holidays, and they are all a very good thing. Happy new year to you all while you’re out there Digging In.

Need tips on growing your garden? Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send your garden-related questions to Digging In, Rio West, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.