As we head into the holiday season and get ready to deck those halls, Tony from Chalet gives his top 10 tips on keeping things green throughout the winter holidays.
- Keep your formerly live cut tree after the holidays. Cut the branches off and use them as a winter mulch for perennials or dehydration protection for evergreen ground cover like English Ivy. The branches are still lightweight, yet will keep the ground frozen without keeping the crowns of perennials soggy, which often means death to fleshy rooted plants in our clay soils.
- Give your cut tree one more use after the holidays as a bird shelter. Drive a metal or steel stake in the ground so you have enough above-ground height to support it. Pick the tree up and place it over the stake, threading the branches carefully until the trunk is touching the ground. Use heavy-duty twine to tie the trunk to the stake in several places. The birds will love you for the additional protection.
- Break the foil habit when buying holiday plants like poinsettias and cyclamens. Tell the person helping you at the garden center or florist not to foil, thank you. Instead place plants inside decorative containers where you can pour off the drainage water more easily than if they’re foiled.
- When the bloom is off the poinsettia or holiday flowering plant, don’t dump it in the trash. At the very least remove the potting mix from the root system, and throw the soil in the garden. Even better, if you have a compost pile toss the plant and soil on. How much better than having it in the landfill!
- If your community doesn’t have a Christmas tree chipping and recycling program, consider buying a permanent tree. While there is a carbon footprint produced by their manufacture (some lines are very eco-friendly), weigh that against having that tree for 5, 10 or more years.
- For holiday entertaining consider soy-based or beeswax candles. They burn cleaner than paraffin.
- While it may be difficult to reuse wrapping paper that’s been shredded from the excitement of opening gifts, bows are another story. Whether it’s the pre-made, stick-on kind or a beautiful handcrafted, custom-made bow, reuse them over and over for years to come. Or use raffia, the fiber from a palm, instead—it’s biodegradable!
- Pack fragile gifts with hot-air popped popcorn rather than Styrofoam peanuts. While the popcorn can’t be reused (for humans or birds either, for that matter), its life in the landfill is very brief.
- In areas with ice and snow, apply coarse play sand or products with calcium chloride to make walking surfaces safer for family and guests. Surrounding landscape plants will not be harmed as they would with ice melters containing salt.
- Consider buying a potted tree for planting outside after your holiday celebration. Two important things to consider before doing this:
- In cold climates pre dig the hole before the ground freezes solid. Mulch the hole with straw and store the soil in a place where it will still be workable for planting. Standard evergreens (fir, spruce, pine, etc.) should not be kept indoors in warm temperatures as it confuses them into thinking it’s time to come out of dormancy.
- 3 days indoors is best (but certainly no more than 5) to maximize chances for survival after planting.
Happy Green Holidays!