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Once the season is over, don't trash that tree.

"People often wonder what they should do with their tree after the holidays," said Amy Brothers, horticulture educator for the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Center. "The truth is, there are lots of things that can be done that really help enhance our environment."

Christmas trees, Brothers said, are totally biodegradable and they easily can be recycled.

"Many communities offer a recycling program where your tree (and others) will be turned into mulch," Brothers said. "Next spring, people who took part in the recycling program can pick up mulch for their gardens and flower beds."

Even if such a program is not offered in an immediate area, Brothers said, many times a short drive can get you somewhere to take your tree for recycling.

Other programs offer a collection site for trees that are later sunk into fish habitats or are even used for bird feeding programs throughout the winter.

"We suggest that anyone wanting to be sure their Christmas tree will be put to good use call the city offices in their area to find out what programs are being offered," Brothers said.

Many times, residents who receive a water bill will find that recycling or donation sites are listed there.

"Every year, more and more cities are trying to offer programs that make good use of this valuable resource," Brothers said.

Otherwise, residents can use the trees at home as songbird habitats by hanging peanut-better packed pine cones and suet to the branches and placing it somewhere outside.

The branches also can be clipped and placed in positions to protect plants from winter conditions, then the trunk dried for a few weeks and burned in a wood stove or fireplace.

"Evergreens are known to sparkle and pop quite a bit in the fireplace," Brothers said, "so if used in a supervised, safe fireplace or wood-burning stove, logs from these trees can make a wonderful fire."

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