Oh Christmas tree, Oh that Christmas tree ...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008
With some planning ahead, taking a Christmas tree down can be easier at the end of the season. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

A Christmas tree may light up the room and fill the house with that fresh pine sent, but disposing of the no-longer-evergreen in the family room can be messy, painful and pretty inconvenient.

Some people planned ahead and when they erected the Christmas tree. They laid a bag at the base with the trunk through a hole so the bag can just be pulled up over the tree and taken out after the holidays. Other people were probably so glad to get the thing to stand up straight they threw some lights on it, turned the bare spot to the wall and called it Christmas Day.

Depending on the species of tree, the amount of needles can be a small bunch or it can be a huge bundle. White pines and Fraser firs retain their needles if watered sufficiently, according to Al Franke, owner of Franke's Countryside Landscape Nursery just north of Jackson.

The White House staff might have had clean up in mind when they picked out the North Carolina Fraser fir to go in the Blue Room for the President and first lady. But for those who went with a Balsam fir because it's pretty, you could be vacuuming for days.

"It's a popular tree," Franke said, "but it dries out faster."

And a dry tree equals dropped needles.

If you don't have a bag prepared under the tree, Franke said to lay a tarp or plastic sheet on the floor, lean the tree down onto it and just drag it out or wrap it up and carry it out of the house. Putting the tarp down will cut back on stray needles.

If you just try to carry or drag it out otherwise, Franke said, "you're going to have needles scattered all the way to the door."

However you get the tree out, you'll want to do it on a Wednesday -- that's the designated day Cape Girardeau public works schedules special pickups. They require a phone call and $5 for the pick up. A container at Arena Park is available for those who don't mind disposing of the tree themselves. Tree services will be available through Jan. 31.

The public works department only services residential addresses, though, so apartment dwellers have to either use the container or find out from their private trash service where to dump the old conifer.

The City of Jackson is not doing tree pickups this year, but residents can drop their old tree off at the Recycling Center on Florence Street.

Those outside city limits who own land -- more specifically, a pond on that land -- can put the tree in the water, creating a fish-friendly habitat. Fish love the natural reef it provides and hide from predators or lay eggs in the branches.

The City of Chaffee public works department will pick up trees at the curb on any day. This year they will make a sanctuary for wildlife in a field because the trees provide shelter for small animals.

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