By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Real Christmas trees are turning out to be the gift that keeps on giving.
That’s why Mike Smith of ReLeaf Chatham-Kent is saving the discarded pines from the landfill and repurposing them to assist nature.
It’s the second year the Buxton-area resident has driven around the area collecting the symbols of Christmas just passed.
Last year, Smith used about 20 trees to line his 150-foot driveway as a natural snow fence.
“It worked really well,” Smith explained, adding he broke them down in the spring and used them for mulch.
Since then, Smith has been doing his research and he’s discovered a number of ways discarded trees can be used.
Using them, as fish habitat by putting them in waterways is one use, Smith said, adding they attract desired species by providing underwater shelter.
The conservationist said he has another idea in mind for this year’s crop of Christmas trees and will use them to protect newly planted tree seedlings from rabbits.
“I have quite a problem with predation by rabbits,” Smith explained, adding there’s evidence laying the pines among the seedlings can keep the furry creatures away.
Smith, who has planted 700 trees on his land, said he will be able strategically place the pines on his property now that relaxed municipal rules allow residents to forego cutting the grass in order to naturalize their yards.
Full of ideas, Smith said he also “lasagna mulches” his yard using layers of different materials including flattened cardboard. He said the Christmas trees can be used to anchor the cardboard in place.
Smith, who plans to pick up about 40 trees in total, said the effort is keeping him busy.
“There are lots of different uses for the Christmas trees,” he stressed, adding the trees can provide animal habitat just by laying them down in the yard.
Smith said he’s also considering making fence posts from them as well.