Author Archives: Jennifer Noonan

About Jennifer Noonan

Jennifer Noonan is a writer (and home improvement lover!) living in Delaware. Check her out on Google +!

5 Things to Do with… Old Sweaters

Beloved sweaters that have become too small or worn are the stars of some great DIY decorating projects. So don't just toss that cardigan into the trash bin, transform it into something useful and wonderful.

If your tastes have changed or you’ve outgrown a favorite old sweater, you have options aside from donating the garment or throwing it away. Recycled sweaters are excellent for a range of home decor DIY projects. In fact, the things you can make with recycled sweaters are so cozy and charming, you might start trolling thrift stores especially to buy knitwear not to put on, but to repurpose. Scroll down to see five wonderfully creative uses of recycled sweaters.



Recycled Sweaters - Throw Pillow


Recycled sweaters are natural throw pillow covers: Simply remove the sleeves from an old cardigan and cut the body into two squares, serging the edges so they don’t fray. Once you’ve sewn those squares together, you’ll have a cushion cover with a button front that makes slotting in a comfortable pillow hassle-free.



Recycled Sweater - Wine Bottle Cozy


It’s thoughtful and gracious to bring a little something for your dinner host. If your gift of choice is wine, decorating the bottle makes the gesture more special—and a bottle “bag” of your own creation is a particularly lovely touch. To make one, cut the arm off a sweater, then fit the sleeve over the wine bottle. Sew the bottom of the sleeve closed and, for a final flourish, tie a decorative ribbon around the covered neck of the bottle.



Recycled Sweaters - Pet Bed


Recycled sweaters are great for any pet owners who want to go the extra mile for their cat or dog. With surprisingly little modification—a bit of sewing here, a bit of padding added there—a sweater can become a bed for Fluffy or Fido. Best of all, you can choose a sweater that coordinates perfectly with your existing room decor.



Recycled Sweaters - Reusable Bag


It’s increasingly common to carry reusable grocery bags on errands and shopping trips. We love their benefit to the environment, that’s for sure, but we don’t always care for their looks. Luckily, you don’t need to be a master of the sewing machine to make an attractive bag from a sweater: With basic hemming, you can transform yesterday’s sweaters into today’s totes.



Recycled Sweaters - Vase Cover


Instantly customize any cylindrical vase or candlestick with the turtleneck or sleeve of a sweater that has a color or pattern you love. So little time and effort is involved, you might even choose to create different sets of these cozies, one for each season, along with special one-off creations for birthdays and holidays.

7 Things to Do in Spring for a Healthy, Gorgeous Lawn Year-Round

To create a thriving, beautiful lawn, you need to hit the ground running in the spring. Add these 7 important tasks to your spring to-do list, and you'll have a lush, thick carpet of green come summer.

Spring Lawn Care


At the tail end of the winter season, homeowners face the sometimes daunting but always exciting prospect of readying the lawn for the warmer months ahead. From cleaning to mowing to seeding, proper spring lawn care encompasses a range of responsibilities. All are important. Remember that cutting corners now could mean that at the peak of summer, you’ll be spending your weekends making up for spring lawn care oversights. In other words, it’s in your best interest to act now. Stay on top of the game to ensure healthy and beautiful grass that demands no more of your time than is strictly necessary.



Spring Lawn Care - Dethatching


Dead grass and lawn clippings accumulate and get matted down into thatch, which not only prevents the germination of new grass seed, but also promotes fungus growth and pest infestation. Dethatch the lawn by giving it a good once-over, using either a lawn rake with stiff tines or a special dethatching rake.



Spring Lawn Care - Soil Testing


To grow grass successfully, you need the right soil. Most varieties thrive in conditions that are neither acidic nor alkaline. Methods exist to raise or lower soil pH, but you’ve got to know what you’re dealing with. Purchase a soil test kit for around $10 from your neighborhood garden store, or send a soil sample to your local extension office.



Spring Lawn Care - Cleanup


Part of spring lawn care involves clearing away the ravages of winter. Equipped with your rake and pruning shears, take an exploratory stroll around the property. Look closely for any plants that didn’t survive. Prune damaged or dead branches from trees and bushes, and remove twigs or leaves you find lingering on the grass.



Spring Lawn Care - Aeration


In high-traffic areas, the soil beneath grass gradually becomes compacted and inhospitable to grass roots. Manual or mechanical aeration reverses the damage done. Here, wine cork-size plugs are drawn out of the lawn surface, giving roots room to spread and allowing air, nutrients, and moisture to penetrate the soil.



Spring Lawn Care - Preemergent


Weed control ranks high among spring lawn-care priorities: If you don’t act against weeds now, before they emerge, you’ll spend the summer battling them—and it’s not a fight you’re liable to win. Prevent weeds from even sprouting by applying a pre-emergent herbicide. For an alternative treatment free of harmful chemicals, try cornmeal.



Spring Lawn Care - Seeding


On any bare patches of ground, skip the herbicide and opt instead for grass seed. Be aware, however, that if you’re planting grass in the spring, it’s going to need lots of TLC during the hot summer months—that is, consistent watering and regular weeding—and you’ll most likely have to seed again in the fall.



Spring Lawn Care - Equipment


Before the lawn season gets into full swing, inspect all your outdoor tools, including the mower. If necessary, take the machine in for service or give it a tune-up yourself: change the oil, install new spark plugs, and replace the air filter. Also, make sure to have fuel on hand in preparation for the first grass-cutting of the year.


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: The old adage applies as directly to spring lawn care as it does to so many other pursuits. Indeed, setting off on the right course in spring can help ensure that your grass thrives right through to fall, bolstering that curb appeal you count on it to provide.

Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Nightstand Project Ideas

A nightstand is a bedroom must-have. Where else can we put our books, glasses, and a cup of water? If your room currently lacks this vital piece of furniture, how about making one out of things you might already have lying around? Here are 5 takes on accessible DIY nightstands.

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Only when I tried living without a nightstand did I realize how important this modest member of the furniture pantheon really is. Bedside tables perform only one function, but it’s a vital one—keeping the accouterments of a good night’s sleep within easy arm’s reach. But while I would argue that owning one is a must, buying one isn’t. There are countless ways to create a DIY nightstand cheaply and easily. Here are five favorites.



DIY Nightstand - Tool Chest


Besides its chic industrial styling and wonderful metallic blue, what I love about this DIY nightstand is its set of integral drawers that allow for storage of personal items aplenty. Mounted on a swivel base, the tool chest pictured reaches the desired height (in relation to the bed) and offers convenient portability.



DIY Nightstand - Suitcases


Thrift stores (and Grandma’s attic) are chockablock with vintage suitcases. Stacked on top of one another, two or three can serve as an offbeat, eye-catching, yet perfectly functional DIY nightstand. If you want, lay a cut-to-size pane of glass—or even a mirror—on top of the uppermost case for a smooth, easily cleaned surface.



DIY Nightstand - Shelving


Limited floor space in the bedroom? Install a floating shelf adjacent to the bed. No heavy-duty materials are required. You need only a couple of L-brackets, a handful of screws, and your screwdriver. For the shelf, use reclaimed wood for a natural look or paint a plywood board to match the existing decor in the room.



DIY Nightstand - Step Stool


Here’s another DIY nightstand project that requires virtually zero effort. If you have a step stool whose shape and patina appeal to your sense of style—or if you can find the perfect piece at a flea market or yard sale—simply place it next to the bed. Each step offers additional surface area upon which to place your things.



DIY Nightstand - Pet Bed


A dresser becomes a DIY nightstand-cum-pet bed, when you remove the bottom drawers (and their supports). Dress up the interior with beadboard or painted plywood, then add a comfy cushion. The remaining drawer gives you the storage you need, and the space created beneath gives Fido cozy sleeping quarters!

5 Things to Do with… Fireplace Ashes

Next time you sweep out your fireplace, don't just dump those ashes! You can use them in the garden and around—and even inside—the house.

Cozying up to a roaring fire is a winter evening pastime that no one would reject. Disposing of fireplace ashes? Well, that’s a chore that many would prefer to do without. But the fact is, there are many productive uses for wood ash. Rather than emptying your ash can into the garbage, put those heaps of soot to work for you. Here’s how.



Uses for Wood Ash - Deicing


Did you know that wood ash gives traction to icy or snow-covered walkways? That’s welcome information, particularly for gardeners, who know too well how commercial de-icing products damage lawns and plantings. Also, if the car gets stuck, sprinkling ash in front of and behind tires can help them get a grip.



Uses for Wood Ash - Clean Silver


Many store-bought silver polishes are toxic; wood ash offers an all-natural alternative, free of cost. Mix one cup of the stuff with a small amount of water. A thick paste should form. Spread that evenly over your silverware and let it sit for a few minutes. Then wipe off the paste with a clean cloth and buff your silver to a shine.



Uses for Wood Ash - Amend Soil

Photo: shutterstock

Because it contains about 25 percent calcium carbonate, wood ash works well as a liming agent for acidic soil. Steer clear of applying it near certain acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, but generally, if the pH reading of your soil is 5.5 or less, ash can provide a benefit when dug about six inches down into the soil.



Uses for Wood Ash - Clean Fireplace Doors


This may seem counterintuitive, but wood ash—being abrasive and alkaline—actually cleans sooty fireplace doors quite effectively. What you do is dampen some old newspapers, dip them into ashes, then vigorously scrub the glass. Employ the same technique with any windows in your home that show a buildup of limescale.



Uses for Wood Ash - Repel Slugs


Are slugs and snails a nuisance in your garden? If so, try sprinkling wood ash around the plants most frequently affected. Acting as a desiccant, the ash dries up these slimy garden pests. Be careful, though: Ash can do the same thing to your plants if you don’t take care to place it a safe distance from stems and roots.

5 Things to Do with… Wooden Dowels

The humble, practical dowel takes center stage in 5 projects that celebrate the versatility of this wooden workshop staple.

Though they’re nothing more than long, cylindrical pegs, wooden dowels can be used to make furniture and home accents of surprising complexity and disarming beauty. Sold at any hardware store—in widths from 1/4 inch to 2-1/2 inches and lengths from 12 inches to 72 inches—these staples are dirt cheap, considering how valuable they can be in all types of DIY projects. So buy a bundle, then get to work this weekend. Pursue your own idea or adapt a design from one of the five highlighted dowel projects below!



Uses for Dowels - Coat Rack


We love the approach Danish furniture makers We Do Wood took with their coat rack, pictured here. With nothing more than some boards and a set of dowels, you can make something similar: Drill a series of holes into a reclaimed wood board, then slot pegs into some of the holes. This flexible storage solution is clearly influenced by—but a lot more attractive than—pegboard.



Uses for Dowels - Wreath


Here’s a way to craft a wreath that will last much longer than evergreen boughs. Cut dowels of varying diameters into 2-inch-long pieces. Glue them together in a circle. Stain or paint the assembly, or leave it unfinished for a more natural look. No matter what finish you end up choosing, the wreath is sure to look most welcoming.



Uses for Dowels - Wine Rack


To make a wine rack like this one, you need only a salvaged wood board and a handful of dowels. First, drill holes in the board to accept the dowels, making sure that their spacing leaves room for wine bottles of different sizes. Then mount the unit or stand it up with an A-frame support structure of scrap wood and twine.



Uses for Dowels - Dish Storage


Install pegboard on the bottom of a deep kitchen drawer, then fit dowels into its perforations. Now you can stack bowls and plates in the drawer, and the dowels will keep your dishware securely in place. When and if your storage needs change, you can easily modify the arrangement to host a different set of items.



Uses for Dowels - Camp Chair


The advantage of a camp chair is that once folded up, it can go anywhere with you. And for no more than $25, you can use a few hardwood dowels to make a stool that looks better than any design you could buy in a typical store. Join the dowels with simple hardware, and make the seat with leather or heavy canvas. Wow!

5 Things to Do with… Denim

As rugged as they are, your denim jeans eventually wear out or, even worse, get too small. Don't throw them out! Instead, grab your scissors and give your old denim new life with one of these useful, accessible projects.

Decades ago, denim may have seemed uniquely American, but today this sturdy fabric belongs to the world: A whopping 450 million pairs of jeans are sold annually! It’s a little scary, then, to contemplate how much denim there must be in landfills—and how quickly we must be adding to that quantity. Environmental concerns aside, there are many reasons to reuse the jeans you no longer wear. Denim stands out among fabrics for its remarkable durability, for one thing. Also, if it looked good on your butt, it’ll look good on home accents, right? Scroll down for five DIY denim projects that prove beyond doubt that jeans deserve their radical popularity.



DIY Denim Projects - Rug


Here’s a DIY denim project that lets you “wear your way” to a new throw rug. After cutting your old jeans into one-inch strips, weave them together in a crosshatch pattern. As you work, pin the strips to a fabric backing and then—once the rug has taken shape—sew, trim, and bind the edges to finish the job.



DIY Denim Projects - Bin


Keep whatever you want (for example, favorite magazines or extra yarn) in various-size bins fashioned from the legs of old jeans. To achieve more heft than a single layer of denim can provide, simply sew in some batting. If you want to add decorative appeal, incorporate a liner of complementary or boldly contrasting fabric.



DIY Denim Projects - Slipcover


Do you have a comfortable old sofa whose upholstery has become faded, stained, or torn? Slipcover it! With this DIY denim project, you can make your own slipcover for next to no money. Personalize the project with buttons or a stencil, or leave the jeans as they are—after all, their pockets provide plenty of visual interest.



DIY Denim Projects - Organizer


Whereas your jeans once carried coins and keys, they can now hold and organize your office supplies, children’s toys, or bedroom bits and baubles. Any item that fits in the pocket is fair game: The material is so rugged that you could even use this DIY denim project in your tool shed, potting bench, or woodworking shop!



DIY Denim Projects - Placemat


Get out your scissors and cut your old jeans (or a few pair you bought at the thrift store) into placemat-size rectangles. Attach a backing and then, using no-sew fabric adhesive tape, secure a small pocket from a pair of kid’s jeans—it will be the perfect size for utensils to slide into. Now your summer picnic table is ready to rumble!

The New Homeowner’s Survival Guide

If you've recently taken the home-buying plunge, our survival guide is a must-read that will help you avoid common pitfalls, budget your time and money, and glide smoothly into the joys of owning your own home.

New Homeowner Tips


So you’ve bought your first house—congratulations! You’ve searched for and found a place that you love. You’ve secured a mortgage and successfully dealt with real estate brokers, lawyers, home inspectors, and insurance agents. You’ve learned about closing costs and the volumes of paperwork that must be signed, in triplicate, with a notary public as witness. No doubt, this has been an exciting time for you, and a very busy one. Believe it or not, there’s still more to do! So to help you through it all, we’ve prepared this handy guide.

We hope you’ll take away two essential things from this guide: an awareness of what you can expect in the first year of living in your new home, and some sound advice on being prepared for the most important aspects of being a new homeowner.


Homeowner’s Insurance
If you have a mortgage, homeowner’s insurance was probably required for the loan. But it’s smart to reassess your insurance needs within the first six months of owning your home. You may discover you have too much (or too little) coverage. Once the dust has settled, take a critical look at your policy and solicit a second round of quotes from insurers.

Most mortgage companies require your taxes and homeowner’s insurance to be escrowed, which means that the mortgage company totals those expenses, then charges you one-twelfth of the sum each month. (Some mortgage companies allow you to opt out of escrow, for a fee.) If you don’t have escrow, remember to budget for your tax and insurance expenses! If you do have escrow, take pains to make sure that the mortgage company is making all payments on your behalf in a timely manner; after all, it’s your house and your credit that are on the line. Also, double-check the accuracy of the estimate made by your lender’s escrow department. If there’s a shortfall, you can expect a bill for the difference at the end of the year. And if that estimate was way off, the bill you receive could be a real whopper.

You’ll need to get all utilities into your name, so make a list and work through it. Call the electric, phone, and gas companies. Contact the county for your sewer and water, if it supplies both. Does the town pick up garbage/recycling, or do you need to contract for that yourself? If you want Internet and broader TV service than an antenna will get you, research your options and start calling for the best bargain. With all the digital entertainment options available, you may decide to cut the cord on cable.

Triple-Check Your Billing Address
Make extra sure each service provider has your contact information recorded correctly—down to the last digit of your zip code. If you don’t receive bills due to some administrative error, you may come home to find your water turned off.

Get on Utility Provider Budget Plans
With so many new variables, the first year in a new house is usually challenging financially. Get on budget plans where you can. Many utility providers will estimate your use for the year, and then break your bills into 12 equal payments. This reduces fluctuations in your charges throughout the year, which can be helpful. Money can feel extra tight after the big move.

New Homeowner Tips - Bills


Some work is more easily done before you get all your stuff in the house. If timing and budget allow, consider doing painting or floor refinishing before your move-in date. Do you need help with cleaning? If you want professional help with anything, bundle that into your move-in budget.

Don’t fret if there’s no money left for these things right away. Sometimes it’s better to live in a house awhile before deciding on paint colors, carpeting, or a new kitchen backsplash. A home is a work in progress, and it takes time to get the feel for a new place. Doing too much at once can be overwhelming and can kill the joy of the experience. Feel free to take a slow approach and live in your house as is for six months to a year or more. Who knows—you might just grow to love that vintage 1950s tile in the bathroom and use it as the inspiration for your interior design.

New Homeowner Tips - Moving



Change the Locks
You can throw out the keys got at the closing—right after you change the locks! You have no idea who has copies of those keys, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, before you do anything else, call a locksmith or do it yourself—just do it.

Set Up the Move
Will you hire someone or do it yourself? If you’re hiring movers, get as many references as you can and at least three quotes. Make sure anyone you consider has insurance. If you’re doing it yourself, reserve your truck. Get one that’s slightly bigger—and reserve it for slightly longer—than you think you’ll need. That’s one place you can reduce stress.

Related:  Moving 101—10 Ways to Make the Best of Any Move

If you’re packing your own boxes, pack them room by room, and label them very clearly, so they can be taken immediately to the right place after being unloaded. Make some quick signs for each room that correspond to the box labels. If you organize your move effectively, with any luck, you’ll be able to park in the garage by the end of the week.

Set manageable goals for yourself. You probably have several wonderful years, if not decades, to enjoy your new home, so you don’t need to finish unpacking in one day. Decide how many boxes you’ll unpack each day—one or two is completely acceptable—and stick to that number. If you’ve unpacked them and still have energy, turn your focus to another task, like hanging window treatments or shopping for drawer organizers.


Service Checks
Plan to have a service check on your HVAC, hot water heater, fireplace, and/or chimney, and any major appliances that require it. Check any filters, and replace if necessary. In short, evaluate all of your home systems.

Go through all the breakers in your electrical box and label them. Label the incoming and outgoing pipes, as well as the shut-off valves, for your water and sewer service. Taking a little bit of time now will make it much easier to diagnose and fix any problems that may arise in the future.

New Homeowner Tips - Gardening



If you have a lawn, you’ll need to purchase some lawn-care equipment or hire a landscaping service. Start researching lawn mowers and learn how to use a string trimmer. If you don’t have them already, acquire a rake, shovel, and some pruning tools, at the very least. If you decide to fertilize your lawn, you’ll want to purchase a spreader or hire someone for the job. Your new neighbors should have good references.

Related: Ultimate Lawn Care Guide—12 Steps to a Prize-Winning Yard

Utility Location
Before you start any new landscaping, call a utility location service to come mark where all your services are in the yard. You do NOT want to break a water main or cut off your electricity while you’re planting a tree or installing a fence. It’s worth making yourself a map to keep on file for reference in the future.

Yes, moving into your first home is a lot of work. But you’ll reap so many rewards—you’re building equity, lightening your tax load, and establishing roots in a community. With any luck, some of those new neighbors will become lifelong friends. Congrats, again, on your new home!

5 Things to Do with… Bricks

Expanses of sturdy, beautiful brick enhance walkways, decks, and houses. But even if you have just a few bricks on hand, there's plenty you can do.

For thousands of years, people have made bricks and used them to build structures of all kinds. Even today, with so many materials at our disposal, we continue to prize brick, not only for its strength and durability, but also for its undeniable aesthetic charm. Newly fired bricks sell quickly, which is one reason that the market for reclaimed brick has gotten bigger, especially in recent years. With a large enough supply of bricks, you can build a walkway, fire pit, or patio. But you don’t need dozens and dozens; there are plenty of uses for bricks in single-digit quantities. Scroll down to see five of our favorites from around the Web.



Uses for Bricks - Bookends


One of the many DIY uses for bricks is to make bookends for your fireplace mantel or home office. Spray-paint the bricks in a single color or in a combination of your favorite complementary hues. To render your creation unique, why not add an ornament (like the children’s toys used here) by means of hot glue?



Uses for Bricks - Planter


What do you get when you bore an inch-deep hole into an ordinary brick? An extraordinary planter, perfect for a small succulent. (If greenery doesn’t excite you, that same hole can become a sturdy, offbeat holder for tea lights.) At your next outdoor party, make this mini planter (or maxi tea-light holder) your table centerpiece, or place it on a deck rail as a conversation-starting accent.



Uses for Bricks - Bookcase


Of all the many uses for bricks, this one ranks as a classic, even among non-DIYers: Combine a stack of bricks with a few wooden boards, and your near-instant result is an almost infinitely adjustable bookcase. Paint the bricks and boards to match, or use several colors that work together, or leave them unfinished for a rustic look.



Uses for Bricks - Doorstop


It worked for your grandmother, so it should work for you too, right? Grab some leftover fabric (or even some old clothing) and take 10 minutes to loosely stitch a cozy around that brick you’ve been using as a doorstop. A less traditional but equally appealing idea is to paint the brick doorstop a standout color like metallic gold.



Uses for Bricks - Garden Marker


Stencils and paint are all you need to transform bricks into garden markers. Of course, if you’re feeling artsy, you can always skip the stencils and label the bricks freehand using paint markers. To let guests admire your handiwork as they arrive for dinner, spotlight each brick with easy-to-install solar landscape lighting.

Weekend Projects: 5 Ways to Make Your Own Rug

In just a weekend, you can make one of these creative, one-of-a-kind floor coverings to add warmth and style to your decor.

When laid over floors or mounted on walls, area rugs imbue living spaces with warmth, style, and comfort. If you’re struggling to find a rug that perfectly suits the challenging color scheme you’ve chosen—or if your budget leaves little room for such nonessential decorative accents—don’t be discouraged! The fact is, you have virtually limitless options, bounded only by the margins of your creative thinking. In just a weekend, you can weave, paint, recycle, or knit your way to a DIY rug, be it solid-colored or geometrically patterned, compact or generously sized. Scroll down to see five favorite DIY rug projects to inspire yours!



DIY Rug - Painted


Use paint to transform a plain-Jane piece into something noteworthy: a custom-designed DIY rug. Simply apply painter’s tape to mark off the borders, then coat on your chosen colors with a paint roller. Although you can achieve elaborate designs, easy-to-do stripes make a striking, hard-to-forget visual impression.



DIY Rug - Cut Out


For this DIY rug, you start with a set of bound-together carpet tiles (use either a single color or a robust mix of your favorites). Then, working with a precision-cutting utility knife, proceed to slice away portions of the carpeting until you are left with a design that tickles your fancy. Angular or curvilinear? It’s all up to you.



DIY Rug - Seamed Samples


Here’s an ingenious DIY rug idea that you can realize for $20 or less. You know those carpet samples available at retail stores, either for free or a few bucks apiece? Bring home about a dozen, then use hot glue and carpet-seaming tape to bind them together. Guests are destined to be wowed by your DIY rug’s creation story!



DIY Rug - Tablecloth


You won’t believe how quickly a tablecloth converts into a DIY rug! The process involves only two steps: Apply polyurethane to the top and then use spray adhesive to attach a rug pad on the bottom. That’s how effortlessly you can make a bold decor statement with a modest investment of time and money.



DIY Rug - Lit


Dust off your sewing skills to create a luminous DIY rug that will make any room glow from the ground up. Here, LED rope lights are patiently crocheted into a circle of thick yarn. For your efforts, you will be rewarded with a one-of-a-kind floor covering that your envious visitors will wish they could buy from a store.

Top Tips for Taking Down the Christmas Tree

It's always fun to put up the holiday tree, but taking it down? Not so much. Make this yearly task less of a chore with our timely tips for taking down the Christmas tree.

Taking Down the Christmas Tree - Needles


Everyone loves the Christmas tree—so long as it’s standing proudly upright and is already fully decorated. Sure, some people enjoy artfully stringing lights on the evergreen boughs and relish the opportunity to rediscover cherished ornaments that have languished in storage for so many months. But nobody likes taking down the Christmas tree. Fortunately, with a few simple tips, you can complete this dreaded annual task more efficiently and without major hassles.

Prepping the area
Start the process of taking down the Christmas tree by laying an old sheet (or a workshop drop cloth) at the evergreen’s base. If you’ve done this before, you know that needles are likely to fall as you work, so this step will save you some cleanup later on. Do you have a lot of fragile ornaments? Consider putting down some towels to keep them safe in case they fall while you’re removing decorations.

Taking down the ornaments
• Remove the ornaments at the bottom of the tree first. That way, you limit the likelihood that you’ll unintentionally knock any down with your body.

• To protect ornaments while they’re in storage, take the time to wrap them in tissue paper or used gift wrap.

• Liquor boxes with dividers are the perfect no-cost repository for off-season storage of ornaments.

• For small ornaments and other diminutive holiday accents, recycled egg cartons work well as storage containers.

• Once you have removed them from the tree, wrap string lights around cardboard paper towel rolls to keep them organized and untangled until next year.

Taking Down the Christmas Tree - Curbside


Disposing of the tree
• Use a turkey baster to draw out any water that remains in the Christmas tree stand.

• Remove the tree skirt; if it’s covered with needles, shake them onto the sheet you’ve laid down.

• Spread the sheet to its full dimensions, laying the tree down horizontally over it. Take off the stand.

• Gather the sheet around the tree like a sling, then use it to carry the tree outside.

Next year, make disposal easier with a Christmas tree bag. Before putting up the tree, place the bag under the stand. After the holiday is over, just pull the bag up and over the tree and tie it off with twine. Then you carry the tree outside and remove it from the bag. Most stray needles will be caught in the bag.

In addition to leaving your tree curbside, most communities around the country have a Christmas tree recycling program in place where discarded Christmas trees are chipped into mulch for gardens (including yours) or shredded for use on paths and hiking trails.  In areas where soil erosion is an issue, discarded Christmas trees can be effective sand and soil barriers and help aid sedimentation management.  You can even put the tree in the backyard to become a bird feeder and sanctuary or, if you have a fish pond, submerge it where it can serve as an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.

Where to begin?  The National Christmas Tree Association–together with, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based conservation group–offer a zip code locator to help you find a suitable treecycling solution near you. Check it out and start the New Year off right–and green!

Cleaning up
Pine needles are stubborn. They get stuck in carpeting, and some remain even after you vacuum. Here’s a trick: Sprinkle baking soda onto the area prior to vacuuming to help the needles slide out of the carpet fibers. Because pine needles are not good for a vacuum, use a broom and dustpan whenever possible.

Try to make taking down the Christmas tree a fun tradition. Put on a movie marathon while you work, or plan to celebrate completing the task with a special hot cocoa recipe or a delicious snack. You’ll have to wait another 11 months until next Christmas, so enjoy every last second of the season this year!