This time of year, if you take a walk through an area with pine trees, you'll find pine cones nearly blanketing the ground. You can easily collect a full bag before long, especially with a couple of kids in tow. Like sea shells, pine cones are all slightly different in shape and size-and it's hard to stop picking them up once you've started. Whether put to practical or decorative use, here are five things you can do with pine cones.
1. NATURAL MULCH
A simple, inexpensive, and attractive solution to mulching around trees and over garden beds is pine cones. Natural mulch makes planting areas less attractive to animals that want to dig, while also providing some acidity to the planting beds in areas with more alkaline soil.
2. PINE CONE BIRD FEEDER
You may remember making a pine cone bird feeder as a kid; it's a popular and simple craft for all ages. Just spread some peanut butter or suet on a pine cone and roll it in bird seed, oats, or sunflower seeds. Hang the feeder in your garden, and you'll soon have wildlife to watch during the winter months.
3. PINE CONE FIRE STARTERS
With some paraffin wax, a double boiler, and your pine cone stash, you can create fire starters to help get the hearth flames burning come wintertime. Add a crayon and crushed herbs for color and fragrance, if that's your thing. Pine cone fire starters make for a great hostess gift or a lovely decorative mantle display.
4. CINNAMON-SCENTED PINE CONES
Even before Halloween is over, you can find bags of cinnamon-scented pine cones in the stores-a sure sign that the holidays are just around the corner. But you don't need to buy them; you can make your own. Cinnamon sticks and scented oil are all you need to add to your pine cone collection for a house full of a robust, spicy aroma.
5. PINE CONE PLACE CARD HOLDERS
You can bring the outdoors in to your holiday table with simple yet elegant pine cone place card holders. Just slip a handwritten place card into each cone's scales, or follow the example above and ornament your table settings with a wintery woodland touch.
For more on holiday decor, consider:
Holiday Lights 101
The Christmas Flower
Real and Fake: A Christmas Tree Timeline