7 Ways to Recycle Your Tree After Christmas
Once the lights and ornaments come off, don’t drag your tree to the curb! Learn how an old Christmas tree can feed your garden, birds—even fish in local waterways.
Once the holidays are behind us (and our tolerance for Christmas tree needles on our floors is at an annual low), many of us probably check our town’s refuse schedule and haul our Christmas trees out to the curb for pickup. Still, it feels wasteful somehow—there has to be a better use for a large mass of organic matter, right? Indeed, there are lots of ways to salvage part, or all, of the tree to give it a second life. Bestow an end-of-season gift on Earth, birds, fish, or even your landscaping with one of these eco-friendly Christmas tree recycling ideas.
1. Chip It for Mulch
Chop up that tree and feed it to a wood chipper. You’ll have excellent mulch to spread around your landscaping or to line your garden paths. Your shredded tree can insulate your plants throughout the winter, help the soil retain moisture, and aid in foiling weeds in the spring.
2. Insulate Plants in Your Yard
Cut the boughs off of the tree, and layer them over plants in your yard that are susceptible to cold weather and harsh winds. The sheltering limbs will serve as protection throughout the winter and early spring frosts.
3. Make Wood-Slice Crafts
Biophilic decor is all the rage, so why not put your tree under the knife? Cross-cut slices of the trunk with a chainsaw or handsaw and use the rings to make coasters, trivets, a wreath, or even ornaments for next year’s tree.
4. Burn It in Your Fire Pit
Your Christmas tree is great fuel for an outdoor fire. Cut off the branches to use as kindling, and cut the trunk into logs. Pine is not recommended for burning indoors, as its creosote content makes for sticky, sooty fireplaces. But it’s perfect for keeping you toasty while you’re enjoying winter evenings outside.
5. Make a Fish Habitat
If you live near a pond or lake, you can sink your old tree into the water to create a welcoming habitat for fish. The branches give them a place to take cover. Just make sure the tree is completely free of tinsel or flocking material that might harm wildlife.
6. Feed the Birds
Believe it or not, your old, dead Christmas tree will make an excellent home for the birds for the rest of the winter. Make sure it’s free of all ornaments and tinsel, then secure it in your yard in a stand, or with stakes and twine. Provide sustenance for your avian friends as well by decorating the tree with strands of popcorn, suet, or pinecone bird feeders.
7. Compost It
A good compost heap needs both “browns” and “greens,” and a Christmas tree has plenty of both. Any part of your tree that can’t be used elsewhere can be added to your compost. It will break down into rich soil to help feed your garden in the coming year.