How to give your Christmas tree a 2nd life this year

As another holiday season comes to an end, it is possible for Christmas trees to find a new use in the new year.

From trails to rinks, there are many places in Ottawa in need of donated trees

Lights and balls on a Christmas tree
Sooner or later, those baubles need to come off and that tree has to go. But you don't necessarily need to toss it in the trash. (Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC/Radio-Canada )

There comes a time in the life of every Christmas tree when the lights come off and the ornaments go back in their boxes.

But before you haul it to the curb, here are a few ways Ottawa residents can give that evergreen a second life.

Donate your tree to a trail

The Kichi Sibi Winter Trail, in partnership with the National Capital Commission (NCC), has been collecting used Christmas trees for seven years.

Donated trees are used as a windscreen, allowing snowshoers and cross-country skiers to enjoy the trail in comfort. The trees are then recycled.

Dave Adams, who helps manage the trail, calls it "the circle of life."

"We get the trees, we set them up, we enjoy them for the entire winter and then come spring, we chip them all up and they go back down onto the trail."

Trees can be dropped off for donation at Remic Rapids, off the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway or at the Champlain Park baseball diamond.

Giving rinks that festive feel

Skating rinks around the city are also looking for donated trees to keep that festive feel alive. 

The Fisher Park Outdoor Rink is accepting trees for a third consecutive year. 

"It's pretty fun because you see kids bringing them over in their toboggans," said Scott Bradley, the rink's co-ordinator.

Last year, almost 200 trees were donated, according to Bradley. 

Trees free of ornaments can be dropped off at the rink on Holland Avenue.

The Rideau Canal Skateway also uses donated trees to decorate rest areas.

To donate, drop your tree off along Colonel By Drive west of the Bronson Avenue Bridge for the NCC to pick up.

Goats love Christmas trees, too

If you don't mind the drive, The Vanderlaand Barnyard Zoo accepts Christmas tree donations every year to feed to their critters. 

Trees can be placed along the fence as you drive into the zoo in Winchester Springs, about 60 kilometres south of downtown Ottawa.

Get creative

If you can't make it to these spots but still can't bring yourself to toss your tree away, consider reusing it in your own garden.

The City of Ottawa recommends leaving your tree in the backyard to be used as shelter for wildlife. As it decomposes, it will also improve the quality of your soil. 

Branches can also be snapped off and trimmed to make up a base for at-home composting. More ideas like these can be found on the city's website.

If none of these options work for you, you can always rely on the city to pick up your tree. Bare Christmas trees can be left out with your green bin by 7 a.m. on your scheduled collection day. 

With files from CBC Radio's All In A Day