Branches & boughs help the landscape

7:12 PM, Dec 31, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - As we ring in the New Year, people across West Michigan begin the daunting task of taking down holiday decorations. Fresh-cut Christmas trees are usually the first to go.

Nationwide, more than 25 million real trees are sold each year, including thousands in West Michigan. 

With decorations removed, what do you do with the once tremendous tree? Grand Rapids offers curbside pick-up for trees marked with a $1.50 purple bulk waste tag. It also has free tree drop-off sites at four locations. 

There are other options, of course. Why not put that $30 tree to use in your own backyard?

Cut off the lower branches and use them to protect plants from drying winter winds. Rhododendrons, roses and azaleas are among garden staples that'll benefit from extra protection.

Spread boughs over flower beds to help prevent heaving during freeze-thaw cycles. They also protect tender crowns from temperature extremes and gnawing rodents.

Sprinkle loose needles around acid-loving plants. Boughs can also be placed beneath downspouts to divert melting snow from walkways.

Or you can set the tree in a backyard snow bank as a supplemental bird feeder. Strings of popcorn, suet cakes and sliced apples make fine winter décor and keep birds happy.

The branches offer protection from bitter winter cold and predators.

Don't feel guilty if you take your tree to one of the 20 drop-off sites in Kent County. It'll be chipped and reused as mulch for paths and around perennials.

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