Tricks, Treats and Trees!

Halloween is a fun-filled time of year for all ages to enjoy, perfect for visiting pumpkin patches, catching tractor rides and picking the perfect costumes. It’s also a time for creativity and for adorning your home with spooky décor. With a little mindful decorating and environmentally friendly practices, you can preserve the health of your trees and foster ecological balance. Check out these three "tricks" that will make your yard an eco-friendly "treat" this Halloween season!


Avoid heavy and tight decorations on your tree.


Walking through neighbourhoods during the fall is always a fun sight-seeing excursion, with spooky decorations adorning people’s homes. However, hanging heavy décor on trees can weigh down branches, potentially leading to breakage. Décor that is tied too tightly and left too long can also girdle a tree, causing damage to the tree that could be life-threatening.

When hanging outdoor decorations, we recommend attaching them to your door, along your porch and on lampposts. If you do want to add some spooky pizzaz to your trees, ensure the décor is light and not tied too tightly on the branches or trunk to avoid harming the tree. Try a lightweight decoration, like a ghost made from a thin bedsheet and hang it on a mature, sturdy branch with flexible ties (old pantyhose are perfect!) to minimize possible injury to the tree. Do not forget to remove any decorations and ties after the Halloween festivities are over.

Leave your leaves!

Halloween is filled with sweet treats from Trick-or-Treating, and we should spread the joy to our yard too! Give your yard a treat by leaving your leaves on the ground!

When you do not rake up your leaves, they break down and add organic material and essential nutrients back into your soil, nourishing your trees and garden. This is particularly beneficial in urban areas and new developments where soil may be lacking nutrients. The leaves also create a natural mulch that protects tree roots from extreme cold and helps supress weeds. In addition, leaf litter also makes a great shelter for overwintering animals such as birds, frogs and salamanders. Even the vast majority of insects, like butterflies and moths, hibernate in leaf litter as eggs, caterpillars, cocoons / chrysalises and adults. And as a bonus, it’s less tedious work for you and “leaves” you with more time to enjoy the fall season!


leaves on the ground


Pumpkin Mulch

Did you know that millions of pumpkins are sent off to our landfills every single year? Why not repurpose your jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin décor once Halloween is over by turning them into pumpkin mulch and compost? Pumpkins are rich in nitrogen and will add nutrients to your trees and garden as they decay. Pro tip: cut up your pumpkins into smaller pieces and mix them with some leaf litter to help them break down quicker! Just ensure there is no wax, paint, or marker on the pumpkins.

Another way to repurpose your pumpkin is by turning it into a snack. Try roasting pumpkin seeds for a tasty treat for yourself or donate your pumpkins to a local farm as a delectable delight for the animals!


leaves on the ground


Plant a Kentucky Coffeetree

If your yard’s soil and sunlight conditions are suitable to plant a Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus), you might just have the perfect Halloween décor to last you for decades! The Kentucky coffeetree boasts the largest leaves of any tree in Canada and is great for birds and bees in the spring and summer, which will add biodiversity to your yard. But when its leaves drop in the early fall, its eerie silhouette makes for a spooky impression. With it’s furrowed and craggily bark, irregular shape and sprawling branches, it looks like a tree you would see outside a haunted house!


leaves on the ground


Have fun with your family and friends this fall season and add some Halloween magic to your yard with these eco-friendly Halloween tips and tricks! For more information on the spooky Kentucky coffeetree and other species to enhance your Halloween décor and backyard biodiversity, check out our Backyard Tree Planting Program and sign up for a consultation with one of our arborists today!

Doreen Malapitan is the Residential Planting Programs Assistant at LEAF.

LEAF offers a subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program for private property. The program is supported by the City of Toronto, the Regional Municipality of York, the City of Markham, the Town of Newmarket, the Regional Municipality of Durham, the Town of Ajax, the Township of Brock, the Municipality of Clarington, the City of Oshawa, the City of Pickering, the Township of Scugog, the Town of Whitby and Ontario Power Generation.