The first title for this week's column started out to be "101 Uses for Dead Christmas Trees." After researching the possibilities, the title became "50 Ways to Leave Your Christmas Tree." Then I shortened it to "The 25 Best Suggestions for Slightly Used Christmas Trees." More research and writing led to "The Top 10 Ways to Utilize Christmas Trees After Christmas." One more revision led to "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Christmas Tree Recycling." When that theme failed to materialize, I settled on "A Few Good Suggestions for Recycling Trees After the Holidays."

For those who bought living Christmas trees growing in a pot, the solution is simple. Move the tree out of the home as soon as possible into a covered porch or garage to help it acclimate to the winter conditions. Hopefully, you've already dug the hole and stockpiled the soil where it won't freeze. On the first nice, mild day, plant the tree, water it if necessary and mulch it in well.Spent Christmas trees have little value at this point in time. Few things in life go from such glorious beauty to such an ignominious fate as quickly as Christmas trees. One day they hold the place of honor and beauty in our homes, and the next are discarded to the garbage.

Following are a few suggestions that will make the transition a little bit more palatable.

If you had edible decorations such as popcorn or gingerbread on the tree, leave them on and allow the birds to eat them. With the abundant snowfall, their food supply has been covered, so an easy meal would be a welcome treat. Consider hanging suet or bird seed on the tree to add real nutrition to their diet.

Never dispose of trees by burning them in the fireplace. When dry, the needles contain enough resin to make them almost explosive and the wood is too green to burn without creating lots of creosote. Creosote accumulates in stoves and chimneys and may contribute to chimney fires. Dry trees are too dangerous to put near fire under any circumstances.

If you have a chipper, trees can be recycled into mulch to promote the growth of other plants. If you are really ambitious, consider scouring the neighborhood for a few extra trees to convert to mulch. A neighborhood mulching party might make an unusual but interesting post-holiday party. Chippers can also be rented if you don't own one.

Another possible garden use for Christmas tree branches is to cover your flower beds with the sharp branches. This may discourage some of those wandering cats that want to use your beds as their sandbox.

If you don't have any way to mulch your tree, you have lots of help. Salt Lake City picks up thousands of trees and hauls them to the University of Utah, where they are shredded and used as mulch for the campus. Trees that show up at the landfill are also converted to mulch so they are not totally wasted.

According to Romney Stewart, director of solid waste, they will accept Christmas trees and other green waste at the landfill or at designated drop-off points. These are mulched for use by parks departments for land reclamation, and mulch is available to local gardeners.

Many other cities are conducting tree recycling programs. Call yours for more information.

Another solution is to recycle them at the Lone Peak Nursery. The trees there will be shredded for mulch to use at the nursery. For every tree received, Lone Peak Conservation Center will donate a tree seedling to an educational reserve. The donated seedlings will be used for conservation projects by school teachers, Boy Scouts and other in-ter-es-ted groups.

"This is a great way to recycle," according to conservation coordinator Glen Beagle. "The old trees are processed, returned to the earth and become a vital part of the soil from which new trees are grown. We then set aside some of the new trees for public service conservation projects."

Lone Peak Conservation Center is located at 14650 S. Pony Express Road in Draper (the Bluffdale exit on I-15). The drop-off location will be open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Jan. 7. Conservation groups can deliver trees for recycling and get certificates to redeem for tree seedlings for their projects. Call 571-0900 for more information.

As your tree is donated from its place of honor in your home to the outdoors, plan to use it one more time. Like all plant materials, a tree is 100 percent recyclable and as it decomposes, it can help make other trees at other times grow better in your garden.