How to recycle christmas trees?

18 Things Your Grandkids Will Never Understand

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With the start of the new year comes an old problem for many people: What should you do with the Christmas tree that’s now drying out and shedding needles all over the floor?

For years, folks hauled their trees out to the trash. But in our more environmentally conscious age, many are looking for “green” alternatives to simply tossing out used evergreens.

Consider these ways to give your Christmas tree a life that extends well beyond the holiday season:

1. Recycle it

Don’t just toss your old tree into the trash. Instead, give it new life through recycling, which usually means it’s turned into mulch.

Michigan State University says Christmas trees are biodegradable, and can be reused or recycled.

Curbside recycling pickup may be an option in your area, although there are often requirements, such as for the tree size and decoration removal.

Taking your tree to a recycling center is another great option, especially if your community does not pick up trees. Check to see if your county has drop-off locations.

Converting a Christmas tree to firewood means the tree can continue making spirits bright long after the holiday is over.

Experts warn, however, not to burn all or part of your old tree in an indoor fireplace or wood stove. A hazardous chemical called creosote in the trees can build up and cause fires to burn extremely hot, sending off sparks that can be fire hazards.

However, it’s perfectly fine to use your tree as kindling for an outdoor fire pit. Nothing says winter quite like gathering with family and friends around a dancing fire. Just make sure the wood is dry before burning. Also, don’t forget to remove any remaining tinsel and ornaments.

3. Mulch it

Your old Christmas tree’s branches are a great source of DIY mulch for your garden. Use them for this purpose, and you’ll save yourself a trip to the store — not to mention all that cash you’d have spent buying bags of mulch.

You don’t even need fancy equipment to get the job done. Simply remove and chip the small branches with the most appropriate tool you happen to have on hand, and spread the bits throughout your yard.

As the needles fall off, they’ll help your soil retain moisture.

4. Compost it

Use your old Christmas tree to supplement your garden soil. According to home tips website The Spruce, a layer of thin branches — such as evergreens — is the best base for a new compost pile:

“This allows a bit of airflow at the bottom of the pile, and the branches will break down over time. Just trim them down so they fit in your bin, then stack them four to six inches high. After you’ve got them in, go ahead and start adding your kitchen scraps and other compostables as usual.”

5. Transform it into pathway edging

Don’t need compost? Not a problem. Instead, chop the trunk of your old tree into 2-inch discs and use them to line your flower beds and walkways. You can also use small branches as edging if you prefer.

In addition to adding visual interest to your landscaping, your yard will smell like Christmas.

6. Use it to protect your perennials

Your old Christmas tree can help save the lives of the other plants in your garden.

Simply lay the branches on the ground beneath perennial plants to help protect them from any upcoming frost. According to Fine Gardening:

“Pine boughs or branches cut from the Christmas tree … make an excellent, airy mulch for young hellebores or any fledgling evergreen perennial because they help moderate temperature changes and offer protection from the winter wind and sun.”

7. Toss it into your fish tank

Want to create a peaceful habitat for your fish? Place branches from your old Christmas tree inside their tank. According to Lifehack:

“In the wild, many branches fall into ponds and lakes, offering protection to the fish in the water. You can put the smaller branches into the tank to give your fish a place to hide and relax. Make sure the branches are fully clean before you put them in the tank.”

8. Return it to the seller

When all else fails, you may be able to return your tree to the seller. Some large tree farms will actually take the tree back after Christmas. Contact the place where you purchased your tree to inquire about pickup and drop-off options.

Do you know of other ways to re-use your Christmas tree after the holidays? Share your thoughts by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

What to Do With Your Christmas Tree After Christmas

Throwing your Christmas tree to the curb after the holiday this year? You might want to think again.

Once the parties are over and the presents are unwrapped, the Christmas tree’s job is done. Or is it? Once you get it out of the house, that forlorn little evergreen can take on a whole new role.

When the holidays are over, take down the tinsel, but don’t bag the tree. Its needles, boughs, and trunk can do more than hold ornaments.

  • There are so many uses and ways to recycle your Christmas tree around your home and in your yard this winter that it’d be a shame to just let it go.
  • If you would like to burn your recycled Christmas tree as firewood, it is probably not a good idea to do so right after you take it down and cut it up. The wood is still wet and can pose a fire hazard. It’s not good with an inside fireplace, but try it in an outdoor fire pit.
  • Using your Christmas tree as winter mulch could be just the thing to recycle and reuse this signature holiday item.Simply by placing your old Christmas tree in the yard, you’re providing birds and small mammals with good winter shelter. You can always chop your old tree up in the spring.
  • Place your tree in its stand outdoors. Fill bird feeders and hang them from the boughs, or drape the tree with a swag of pinecones coated with peanut butter
  • Even if you live on a small property, you can place your old Christmas tree at the edge of your yard. This makes a small wintertime wildlife habitat for rabbits, birds, and squirrels. Some may even build their nests in the pine boughs
  • Cut a two foot section from the top of your Christmas tree and set it in your yard. Believe it or not, this makes a squirrel feeder. The perfect squirrel jungle gym!
  • Evergreens make excellent winter mulch for tender plants. Just cut a few branches, or boughs, from the tree and place them over any delicate plants for the winter.
  • Make a sachet with the tree’s pine needles. It will add Christmas freshness to your home throughout the New Year! Hide them around the bathroom and the kitchen for some cheerful fragrance!

Just a few weeks ago, you picked out the perfect live Christmas tree and lit it up with twinkling lights. Hopefully the little feller made it through the holidays, but now what do you do with the spruce moose? It’s easier to recycle your Christmas tree than you may think. Instead of hauling it out to the garbage, we have 14 suggestions that are kinder on landfills and give your tree a second life.

Mulch love: Use slow-decomposing pine needles to give your garden some TLC. Some communities even do the mulching themselves, then let residents take some home.

Put a bird on it: Leave it in the stand and hang bird feeders from it. (Put it outside first, of course.)

Save your table: Saw the trunk into thin slices, then coat them with polyurethane and use as tree coasters.

Give it back: Lots of cities have programs to recycle trees, which are biodegradable.

Make your own kind of music: Here are instructions for turning a Christmas tree into a didgeridoo.

Fight fire: Burning Christmas trees can be dangerous, especially indoors, so proceed with caution. Of course, some do cut their trees into firewood.

Sachet, Shantay: Put the pine needles in a little bag to keep the scent of Christmas around a few more weeks.

Scratching post: After trimming away the branches and securing the trunk, surrender the tree to your cats’ claws. Your local zoo or wildlife center might even want them for their big cats.

Fir-ment: Turn your tree into spruce beer.

Put it in the ground: Done right, you can actually replant a Christmas tree.

It sleeps with the fishes: Donate your tree to a fish and wildlife department, so it can serve as a habitat for finned friends.

Rabbit fir coat: Give neighborhood bunnies some cover by creating brush piles with the branches.

Create a festive playground: Rent a wood chipper, run your tree through it, and marvel at your newly created playground cover. Now all you need is a big metal slide and a see-saw. No, we don’t know where to get those.

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10 Ways You Can Put Your Old Christmas Tree to Use in the Garden

In the UK, around 8 million real Christmas trees are purchased every year – but after the Christmas season, many are simply discarded on the streets and eventually find their way to landfill. The Local Government Association estimates that disposal costs the taxpayer £100 per 40 trees with each 2-metre tree generating around 16kg of carbon dioxide as it decomposes.

Instead of sending your used Christmas tree to landfill, there are a number of better ways you can recycle your old tree and put it to good use in the garden or home.

1. Turn it into mulch

Christmas trees make fantastic mulch which can be used around the base of your garden trees or shrubs. Mulching has a number of benefits – it can help treat compaction and prevent soil erosion that often happens after heavy rain. If you mulch the roots of your evergreen trees, conifers, tender perennials and tender shrubs, this can also prevent the ground from becoming frozen in cold spells.

You’ll need to use your shredder – or borrow a neighbour’s if you don’t have one. Making sure that you’re wearing safety equipment (glasses and gloves), cut the branches from the trunk and put them into the shredder one by one so you don’t jam the mechanism. The trunk will usually be too thick to put in the shredder – this can be dried to use in an open fire/woodburner/fire pit or used to create a beautiful decoration (see below).

2. Use it as compost

Aside from spreading the mulch around trees and shrubs, you can also use a little in the compost heap. Don’t include too much as the tough rubbery needles can take quite some time to break down. (Read more tips on how to create your own compost.)

3. Use the tree as a stake

Rather than reducing your tree to mulch or compost, you can strip it bare to create a fantastic frame for flowers or beans to grow up. You can use the unwanted pine needles in compost or sprinkle them on a muddy path to provide grip.

4. Use the branches

If you strip the branches off the trunk, these can be used to protect your beds during the colder months. One way to do this is to create a frame from the branches and cover it with frost protection fabric. Branches can be bent into an arch which you then cover in the fabric to protect delicate plants, or twisted together to form a wigwam shape over larger plants. Make sure you secure the fabric so that it doesn’t blow away during a windy spell.

Alternatively, try intertwining the branches and using them as insulation at the base of winter-tender landscape shrubs or rose bushes.

5. Replant it

Environmental Charity Greenpeace encourages people to pot their Christmas trees after use. Many of the trees you buy over Christmas are incredibly resilient, even those that have had their roots chopped off. Although the branches may already be drooping, you’ll be surprised at their ability to recover if planted in a pot of soil and left to establish. You could decorate the tree with food for birds (see below), giving it a use in the garden even if the roots fail to take.

6. Use as an animal habitat

Winter can be tough for small animals who have to cope with the rain, snow, cold, wind and scarcity of food. Although some mammals do have an inbuilt system that cools the blood flowing to their extremities, thereby reducing heat loss, they will still seek shelter in cold and windy conditions. Your old tree will make a good shelter in a corner of the garden that is not too exposed – just make sure it is secure so that it does not blow around in windy conditions.

7. Create a bird feeder

Your old tree is a fantastic way to provide much needed food for birds during the winter months. Secure it in a heavy pot that won’t blow over and decorate the branches with suitable food ‘decorations’ (the kids will love helping with this) – for example:

  • Halve an orange and scoop out the flesh. Attach three or four strings through little holes in the side of the orange to create a hanging basket shape. Fill it with bird seed.
  • Attach string to a pine cone, making a loop. Dip the cone in peanut butter then cover it in bird seed.
  • Thread popcorn onto string. using a needle and use as ‘tinsel’.
  • Mix suet with plenty of bird seed, squish it into cookie cutters and push the shapes out onto greaseproof paper. Partly unwind a paperclip and embed it in each shape to create a hook for hanging. Pop your shapes in the freezer to set.
  • You can halve and hang up old fruit by attaching string – even if it is bruised or partly rotten. Apples, pears and other fruit will be appreciated by the birds.

8. Turn it into potpourri

The beautiful scent of pine needles makes fantastic potpourri, especially when combined with other popular winter spices. Collect together a few of the pine branches and chop off a good-sized piece of the tree stump. You might want to use some cinnamon sticks, cloves and raw cranberries, too.

Put your tree stump in a shallow heat-proof bowl and add water up to the halfway point. Scatter the other bits and pieces – cloves, cranberries, cinnamon sticks and the pine needles/branches – in the water. Position in a warm place (such as on top of a radiator cover) out of the way of kids/pets and as the water starts to warm up, the gorgeous woody scent will fill your home. After a few days, the water will dry up – so you’ll need to add some more, and you might also need to refresh your ingredients.

9. Make a decoration

You can use a section of the tree trunk to make a rustic candle holder for your home. The tea light can either go in the centre of the trunk, or you can lie a thicker section of trunk on its side and cut several holes for a number of tea lights.

First, cut your trunk to the size you want. If you’re going to put the tea light in the middle of the trunk, measure across the top and find the centre. If you’re going to lie the trunk on its side for several tea lights, use a sharpie to mark where each hole will go. The easiest way to create the holes is to use a spade bit that is the correct size on your drill. Tea lights are quite shallow so you’ll need to stop periodically, clean out the hole and try it for size. When you’re finished, lightly sand the hole if you need to and fill the little hole at the bottom (made by the tip of the spade bit) with wood filler or putty.

When you’ve finished, seal your candle holder – this protects the wood, keeps any critters that might be living in the wood from escaping and gives it a nice sheen.

10. Recycle it

If you’ve not got the time or inclination to follow any of the above ideas, the simplest way to dispose of your Christmas tree is to recycle it. Many garden centres are happy to take old trees and will turn them into wood chippings for use in someone else’s garden! There are also conservation schemes throughout the UK that welcome old trees – for example, in Merseyside, they are used to protect the sand dunes and sea defences, and in West Yorkshire, they help to build up hedgerows and create safety barriers around the Ogden reservoir. Speak to your local council to find out what schemes are running in your area.

At Capital Gardens, we stock everything you need to enrich and maintain and your garden. Head to one of our three store locations to find your perfect gardening essentials.

16 Uses For a Dead Christmas Tree

Richard Clark/Getty ImagesMillions of trees are discarded after Christmas each year, but there are many ways to avoid sending them to the landfill.
Throwing out a Christmas tree can be depressing. There’s nothing sadder than a prone, browning Christmas tree with a few strands of tinsel and decorations still on it, waiting for the garbage truck to pick it up.
With a little work and some creativity, there are other uses for discarded Christmas trees than just sending them to the landfill. Here are 16 uses for a dead Christmas tree:
1. Firewood. As we’ve mentioned before on uses for dead trees in general, old trees can make great firewood. Cut your old tree up, remove all of the tinsel and any other decorations, and use it as kindling in an outdoor fire pit. Make sure the tree is completely dry before burning it.
2. Fish habitat. Some cities take old Christmas trees to local ponds, rivers and lakes and put them in the water for fish to hide from predators and have a warm spot to live. Don’t go dump your tree at the lake without checking with the city. But it could be worth asking.
3. Mulch. The shedding needles can be used as mulch in your garden, and the branches can be added to your compost pile. Or just cut off some small branches and spread them around your yard. As the needles fall off, they’ll help the soil retain moisture.
4. Make wood chips. Run the trunk and large branches through a wood chipper, if you have access to one, to make wood chips that can be used for mulch, to suppress weeds or for landscaping.
5. City recycling. Whether it’s for wood chips, mulch or fish habitat, some cities collect old Christmas trees and recycle them for you. This could be done through your garbage collection company, or may require you to schedule a pick-up date. Call your city hall to find out.
6. Pathways. Cut the trunk into slices to use as stepping stones (stepping trees?) in your garden or around your yard. They can be used along the edges of existing paths as markers, and can be painted white to lead the way home at night.
7. Bird feeder. Cut the tree down to a few feet high and drill out the trunk to create a hole for bird seed and other bird food. Then sit back and let the bird watching begin.
8. Dune restoration. Christmas trees are sometimes used after hurricanes to rebuild sand dunes and banks by allowing sand that builds up to cover the tree, which helps hold the sand down. Contact your local conservation group or government agency that works on the beach in your area to see if your tree can be donated for dune restoration.
9. Replant it. If you thought ahead and bought a potted Christmas tree instead of a cut tree, then you can probably replant it and have a good chance that it will grow in your yard. Hopefully you’ve watered it enough during December that it’s still alive in its pot.

10. Rent a tree. Instead of having a dead Christmas tree to worry about, rent a living Christmas tree. The tree is potted and returned to a nursery after Christmas, where it’s replanted and either rented again later or planted in a forest.
11. Bonfire. If you live in a rural area where bonfires are legal and there’s enough room for such a fire to be safe, then join with your neighbors and have a community bonfire with your Christmas trees.
12. Brush pile. This can be another good use if you have a lot of land. Get a few trees from neighbors and create a brush pile for wildlife to live in.
13. Artwork. If you have the skills, or even if you don’t, carve a large section of the trunk into a sculpture. Or cut a cross section of the trunk and paint it to create art for your garden.
14. Insulate perennials. Cut off some of the boughs and lay them over perennial beds to insulate them from the snow and frost.
15. Coasters. Cut the trunk into thin slices and sand them down to create unique coasters. If sap is coming out of the tree pieces, paint a thin layer of polyurethane over them.
16. Return it. If your Christmas tree seller is still around, take the tree back to them. Sometimes they’ll take it back to the woods for you to let it decompose naturally.
At the very least, you should be able to recycle your Christmas tree through a local recycling program. Don’t just throw your old tree into a garbage can. Think creatively and put your old tree to good use.

The holiday season is always a joyful time where people come together, family, and friends, to celebrate the year’s achievements, have a good time, and make memories.

One of the most common practices during Christmas is putting up a Christmas tree. The large green conifer tree fully decorated in lights and other artifacts usually set the perfect mood to steer everyone in the house throughout the holiday.

The question now is, what can you do with your Christmas tree after the holiday season is over? Well, you can recycle or reuse the tree.

Here are some of the ways of reusing or recycling your old Christmas tree.


  • Make Firewood

Most of the time, people use artificial trees in their house, which usually resembles the actual evergreen conifer, and decorate it appropriately. While there are some people like this, others prefer using the actual (real) tree as it is more appealing and set the mood correctly.

If you are one of the people, who prefers using the actual tree after the celebrations are over, you can chop the tree and get firewood. The firewood can help you warm up your house at night using the fireplace or cook a meal or two on your charcoal grill.

If you need timber or leftover wood disposed of, we can help with our removal services.

  • Create Fish Food and Habitat

Once you are done with your Christmas tree, you can use it to create fish food and habitat in a nearby lake or pond.

The best way to go about this is removing any hooks, ornaments, and decorations from the tree and let it look exactly how it was when you uprooted it. Once you have done this, carry the tree and carefully dump it into the lake/pond.

The pine/spruce provides a natural habitat for the fish. Furthermore, when the tree decomposes, it will provide a proper environment for the growth of algae, which is food for the fish.

  • Taking the Tree To a Recycling Centre

Once you are done using the tree and you have no idea what to do with it, a perfect place to start is checking around your area for recycling plants. These centres are skilled in the field and will ensure that your tree is put into proper use.

All you have to do is search on the internet for a recycling centre near you. Once you have found one, retrieve their contacts. From there, you can set a way of either delivering the tree or for them to pick it up.

Make sure you ask if there are special requirements regarding things like ornaments, size, flocking, tinsel, and much more.

  • Restoration of Dunes

Over the years, communities around beaches have had troubles with beach erosion. The problem significantly reduced after they decided to use old Christmas trees in a bid to restore the sand dunes.

The reason why an old Christmas tree is used in this scenario is because the tree’s needles retain sand and vegetation against strong wind. Therefore, you can use the same principle elsewhere and save two or three sand dunes using your old Christmas tree.


  • Selling or Donating The Tree

One of the best ways of reusing your old Christmas tree, especially the artificial one, is donating it to your relatives, friends, or the less fortunate. What you feel does not serve any purpose may put a huge smile on someone’s face. Otherwise, if the artificial tree is still in good condition, you can choose to sell it as it can fetch a reasonable price.

  • Using It For Art

If you are the type of person who loves art or creating masterpieces from simple items available, well, this might be for you. You can separate the part of the tree and creatively make something beautiful out of it. For instance, the branches can serve as excellent materials for making DIY wreaths.


The festive season comes with a lot of joy, commemorations, eating, and sharing presents under a Christmas tree. Once the celebrations are over, people usually do not know what to do with the trees.

Well, if you are one of them, you can easily recycle the tree by dumping it in a lake/pond as it can serve as a habitat for the fish. It can also decompose to foster the growth of algae, which is food for the fish.

You can also reuse tree, the artificial one, by donating it to somebody who would like to have one. Making firewood with the tree is also a great way of recycling a real Christmas tree.

If you need professional help recycling or getting rid of your Christmas tree after the holidays, call us at Paul’s Rubbish Removal, and we will help you with everything.

6 Ways You Can Reuse Your Christmas Tree After Holidays

With the holidays behind and colder days ahead of us, it is impossible not to feel a pang of sadness: Christmas ornaments are being put away, the gifts wrappers are in the bin and your festive tree doesn’t look festive at all anymore.

And of course, the beloved Christmas tree. For weeks on end, it has sat in its corner while looking its best; however, without the ornaments, it looks rather sad with its dropping needles. You might be asking yourself what to do with it before your cat makes the tree its next scratching post, and we have the answer just for you.


We’ve gathered 6 things you can do to recycle and repurpose your lovely Christmas tree while making yourself better in the process. (On a side note, you can just buy an artificial tree that will last you for years and years next time.)

1. Recycle it

The great thing about actual trees is that they are biodegradable and they can be returned to nature easily. While saying goodbye to your tree might be hard, you can actually throw it into a compost pile which will take it back to nature where it belongs.

Also, you can find local places that accept undecorated trees and put them through a wood chipper. This might be a hard process if you are prone to forming emotional attachments to things, or it is your first Christmas-tree-rodeo.

Source: Flickr/wiredfornoise

You can also check if your country has drop-off locations where they gather trees to take them to recycling centers. However, just make sure that your tree is completely bare. You wouldn’t want to set the mulcher on fire.

2. Use it for firewood

Of course, you can go full metal and use your beloved tree as fuel for your outdoor fire pit or bonfire. It may sound heartless, but it does make you think of marshmallows, which is always nice.

Source: Flickr/wonderlane

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t EVER put your Christmas tree into your chimney. Christmas trees release a flammable, toxic substance named creosote when they burn. This substance may coat your chimney and increase the risk of a chimney fire!

3. Pinterest it

Challenge the Pinterest mother in you and you will find numerous ways you can get the best of that beautiful trunk. It is all up to your imagination.

You can cut the trunk into slices and use them to line your flowerbeds or walkways. Trunk pieces with different thicknesses are good for dynamic garden displays and you can use them as pot-risers too.


Source: Piqsels

Also, we all need some extra support from time to time. You can use the branches as natural stakes for your plant friends.

4. Let it be

Why not buy your Christmas tree in a pot and let it enjoy the rest of its days as a merry old tree in soil? You can plant your Christmas tree into your backyard and let it flourish year-around.

Source:Enoch Leung/Wikimedia Commons

5. Enjoy the smell

Who doesn’t like the smell of evergreen needles?

Let’s say that you will use the trunk as firewood. Before you do that, you can actually make use of the needles by laying them around the house. Putting the needles inside bowls or snatchles will make your house smell like Christmas for a long time.

Source: Bicanski/Pixnio

6. Help the people (and the goats)

You can always get in touch with your neighborhood and local groups to see if anyone needs a tree. For example, Island Beach State Park uses left-behind trees to strengthen its beach’s sand dunes.


Moreover, maybe your neighbor is planning on starting a pine-tree army in their backyard.

Or you can just find some goats that will enjoy your tree very, very much. They are known for their love of munching on Christmas trees.

Source: Barry Marsh/Flickr

It will be like Christmas for the goats. Sharing is caring after all.

Source: ilovebutter/Flickr

Christmas Tree Disposal: How To Recycle A Christmas Tree

Santa Clause has come and gone and you have feted and feasted. Now all that remains are Christmas dinner leftovers, crumbled wrapping paper and a Christmas tree practically devoid of needles. Now what? Can you reuse a Christmas tree? If not, how do you go about Christmas tree disposal?

Can You Reuse a Christmas Tree?

Not in the sense that it will be viable as a Christmas tree option next year, but there are many things that the tree can be used or repurposed for. Before you do anything, however, make sure all the lights, ornaments and tinsel has been taken off the tree. This can be hard to do but these objects will not work well with any of the following recycling ideas.

If you would like to continue to enjoy the tree post Christmas season, use it as a shelter/feeder for birds and other wildlife. Tie the tree to a deck or a living tree near a window so you can watch all the action. The branches will provide shelter from cold and strong winds. Enjoy a second round of Christmas tree decorating by festooning the branches with slices of fruit, suet, strings of cranberries and seed cakes. Dangle peanut butter smeared pinecones along the tree’s limbs. With such a smorgasbord of delicacies, you will have hours of fun watching birds and small mammals dart in and out of the tree for a snack.

Also, some conservation groups

use Christmas trees as wildlife habitats. Some state parks sink the trees in lakes to become fish habitats, providing shelter and food. Your old Christmas tree can also be “upcycled” and used as a soil erosion barrier around lakes and rivers that have unstable shorelines. Contact local conservation groups or state parks to see if they have such programs in your area.

How to Recycle a Christmas Tree

Along with the ideas mentioned above, there are other methods for disposing of your Christmas trees. The tree can be recycled. Most cities have a curbside pickup program that will allow you to have your tree picked up and then chipped. Check with your sold waste provider to see what size tree and in what condition it needs to be in (for example, does it need to be stripped of limbs and cut and bundled into 4 foot lengths, etc.). The chipped mulch or ground cover is then used in public parks or private homes.

If curbside pickup is not an option, your community may have a recycling drop off, mulching program or non-profit pickup.

Still have questions about how to recycle a Christmas trees? Contact your Solid Waste Agency or other sanitation service for information regarding this method for disposing of your Christmas tree.

Additional Christmas Tree Disposal Ideas

Still looking for ways to dispose of the Christmas tree? You can use the branches to cover weather sensitive plants in the yard. The pine needles can be stripped from the tree and used to cover muddy paths. You can chip the trunk as well to use a raw mulch to cover paths and beds.

The trunk can then be dried for a few weeks and turned into firewood. Be aware that fir trees are filled with pitch and, when dried, can literally explode, so take great care if you are going to burn them.

Finally, if you have a compost pile, you can certainly compost your own tree. Be aware that when composting Christmas trees, if you leave them in large pieces, the tree will take ages to break down. It is better to cut up the tree into small lengths or, if possible, shred the tree and then toss it in the pile. Also, when composting Christmas trees, it would be beneficial to strip the tree of its needles, as they are tough and, thus, resistant to composting bacteria, slowing the entire process.

Composting your Christmas tree is a great way of repurposing it since it will, in turn, create nutrient rich soil for your garden. Some people say the acidity of the pine needles will affect the compost pile, but the needles lose their acidity as they brown, so leaving some in the pile will not affect the resulting compost.

Choosing and decorating a freshly cut Christmas tree is a festive rite of passage so many of us cherish.

But come Boxing Day, the fresh pine scent has vanished, and we’re left with little more than a browning stump and a bunch of pesky pine needles that need sweeping up.

So what’s the easiest – and most ethical – way to dispose of your spent Christmas tree to save it from becoming a redback haven in your backyard or on your balcony?

For more tips on being sustainable, listen to episode two of Somewhere Else:

1. Call your council

Most local councils offer a free Christmas tree collection from your nature strip, turning your once-jolly tree into much-needed mulch or .

Most local councils offer a free Christmas tree collection from your nature strip. Photo: Stocksy

“If you are buying a traditional tree, the best option would be to see if your council offers a mulching service because then at least would get a second life, protecting other plants,” says Planet Ark recycling campaign manager, Claire Bell.

Councils vary in the way they collect your trees, with some requiring you to book a pick-up and others setting a single date for a massive community dead-tree collection.

For example, in Victoria, Melbourne City Council offers a free green waste pick-up service each month for residents, while Kingston Council has a designated Christmas tree pick-up day each January for anyone who books in.

Whatever you do, don’t put it in your ordinary rubbish bin or it will end up in landfill. Photo: iStock

In Sydney, Randwick Council zones different areas into designated Christmas tree collection days, so you have to make sure your tree is out the front on the right day, while the Inner West Council suggests you chop it up and put it in your green bin or if that’s not doable, book a council clean-up service to come and collect it.

Whatever you do, don’t put it in your ordinary rubbish bin or it will end up in landfill where Bells says it will produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas that plays a significant role in global warming.

“A bit like food scraps and any organic matter, if it goes into landfill, it breaks down, the by-product is methane,” she says. “It’s not like it composts because that needs oxygen and good microbes to create good compost.”

If you can’t be bothered organising disposal of your Christmas tree, consider a crafty or re-usable solution to save you the hassle next year. Photo: iStock

2. Give it back

Some Christmas Tree farms, like Dandenong Christmas Tree Farm, will take your dead tree back at the end of the festive season and turn it into mulch for their next batch of pines. Drop it off at the front gate and think of it as paying forward some good tidings to next year’s trees.

3. Re-plant it

While a cut trunk can’t be re-planted, you can buy a sweet little pine from companies like Floraly and Merlino’s Christmas Trees that can then be re-potted or planted once the festive season is over.

While a cut trunk can’t be re-planted, you can buy a sweet little pine from certain stores. Photo: iStock

“There are also many other types of trees that aren’t your traditional Christmas tree that could be used for a Christmas tree,” Bell says.

“They can be brought indoors or put in your back garden, and will live on, rather than expiring three days after Christmas.”

4. Use it on your garden

If you have access to a mulcher, throw your dead Christmas tree in it for a DIY fragrant garden topper.

If you have access to a mulcher, throw your dead Christmas tree in it for a DIY fragrant garden topper. Photo: iStock

“You might even be able to chop up your tree and use it for something decorative in your garden,” Bell says.

5. Make a new plan for next year

If you can’t be bothered organising disposal of your Christmas tree, consider a crafty or re-usable solution to save you the hassle next year.

“People are making Christmas trees out of pieces of wood or other materials, being quite inventive in creating a kind of sculptural Christmas tree,” Bell says.

If you are thinking plastic, Bell suggests buying a good quality one. Photo: iStock

If you prefer a traditional Christmas tree look and are thinking plastic, Bell suggests purchasing a good quality one so that it lasts a long time and doesn’t end up in landfill.

“If you’re buying a good quality artificial tree that you’re going to use for 20 years, that’s a good investment because it isn’t a single-use item and it has longevity,” she says.

“Another option is buying a second hand one from somewhere like Facebook Marketplace to give it a new life, rather than have it sent to landfill. But the ultimate outcome would be using a living tree that you can then go and re-plant.”

5 Ways to Recycle your Old Christmas Tree

Last Updated Jan 3, 2019 · Written by Rob Schneider · 4 min read

Since Christmas celebration is over, we need to make sure that we avoid the sad and wasteful sight of Christmas trees dumped on pavements and driveways – which all end up in landfills across the country.

There are much better ways to recycle your old Christmas tree and reduce the environmental impact of the festive season in your household. Here we look at five ways you can recycle your tree, including:

  1. Mulch your tree

  2. Get creative

  3. Compost your Christmas tree

  4. Recycle your tree

  5. Plant a different tree

1. Mulch your Tree

Christmas trees can make great garden mulch. You could get together with your neighbours and have a tree mulching party. Share the cost of a mulcher from an equipment hire shop and mulch all your trees at the same time. Many garden maintenance companies have mulchers, too. Save your tree and when they come to your home, have them create mulch from your Christmas tree and spread it in your garden.

2. Get Creative

If you have a few tools, you can also cut the trunk into thin slices and use them as coasters or make cute little reindeer like these. For the coasters, after you’ve cut them, sand them smooth and cover them with a clear lacquer or varnish to preserve them. You’ll have unique and natural coasters for parties and special occasions. Thicker cuts can make great garden edging. Granted, you may need to do this over several Christmases, but why not start your collection this year? In a few years, you’ll have all the garden edging you need.

3. Compost your Christmas tree

If you have a compost bin then the branches and leaves of your Christmas tree are perfect for allowing air circulation at the bottom of the pile. Compost bins or heaps are easy to maintain and create great fertiliser. Items to add to your compost bin include garden waste like leaves, grass clippings and non-woody clippings as well as kitchen waste such as vegetable peelings, leaves, stalks, stale bread, eggshells, tea leaves and even coffee grounds. Don’t have a compost bin? Simple – create your own.

4. Recycle your Christmas tree

Before you dump your Christmas tree on the pavement outside check with your local council to see if they offer a service to recycle it. You also have the option of putting it in your green waste bin – if you have one in your area. Just note there may be size limits – for example in the City of Sydney green waste like tree stumps and branches must not be thicker than 10cm – so you will need to cut it down.

5. Choose a different tree

Instead of buying a Christmas tree, why not buy a native plant and decorate it as you would a Christmas tree? As you can see a Waratah would make a great substitute and when decorated it will look just as beautiful – more so if it is flowering. When Christmas is over, plant it in your garden and enjoy it for years to come!

You might also like: How to transform your garden for outdoor autumn living, Greener Living With Interior Gardens

7 Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

1) The easiest and most common way of disposing of an old Christmas tree is simply to haul it outside – cursing the needles accumulating all over your house – and leave it for someone to pick up. Some cities and towns will haul it away to be mulched, some simply throw it out. Being plant material, it’s among the least harmful possible things to dispose of. That said, the tough fibers of an evergreen can take quite awhile to decompose in a landfill. Google your city or town’s preference for how to leave trees on the curb: Most require you remove all decorations and many won’t take a tree if it’s in any sort of bag.

2) But usually, there are better options. Most cities have some kind of mulching facility. Take a look at New York City’s: There are dozens of places to drop off your tree, where it’ll be run through a wood chipper and turned into mulch. At most of these locations, you can even take home some mulch for free – a huge boon in cities where good, clean soil is a rarity. Christmas tree mulch is especially great for helping other trees stay warm through the cold winter. (This is presuming we have a cold winter this year. Or any winter at all? What’s going on with this weather?) If you have a way of turning your tree into chips yourself, by all means, do that. You’ll have fragrant, delightful evergreen chips to play with.

3) There are also private services you can call to come and personally remove a tree, though these can be pretty expensive, usually around $50.

4) Now let’s get into actually reusing your tree. If you have a yard, you can set up an old Christmas tree with some bird feeders and maybe some festive strings of popcorn, and you’ll find yourself with a pretty amazing and enormous bird playhouse. Just remember to remove anything birds or other wildlife can choke on, like tinsel. By the time the winter’s over, the tree will have dried out, and you’ll be able to easily break it apart by hand and throw out in a yard waste bag.

5) Some folks recommend tossing a tree into a pond, where it can provide a habitat for fish and other marine critters. We think this is a cool idea, with some caveats: Make sure your tree hasn’t been treated with any preservatives that can leach into the water, and check with your local authorities so they know you’re a friend of fish and not just chucking your garbage into water.

6) You could also see if your tree is needed anywhere nearby. This may sound vague and confusing, but trees are a natural barrier for erosion, and some places, especially near water, have found a use for them. The Jersey shore was in dire need of any kind of barrier after Hurricane Sandy, and the donations of old trees helped immeasurably.

7) If you have a chainsaw, saw off all the smaller branches of a Christmas tree and you’ll be left with a nicely manageable trunk. This Old House recommends sawing the trunk into two-inch-thick rounds, which can be used to line a garden bed. Or you could slice it even thinner and use the rounds as coasters – you might want to use some polyurethane or other coating to keep the sap from coming out.

One thing we can’t recommend doing: Don’t ever chop up the wood from a Christmas tree and light it in your fireplace. Evergreens have high levels of creosote, which is basically tar, and can cause extremely dangerous smoke and buildup.

To put it frankly, it is hard to imagine Christmas without a Christmas tree. That’s where much of the trimming goes. Under it is where the presents go. And, for a month or more each year, the tree becomes a focal point in the house, either occupying a prominent window or taking over as the centerpiece of the living room. It goes without saying that a Christmas without the tree would feel pretty odd, but we also have to face facts: Something has to be done with all of these trees after the holiday is over.

While fake trees provide the opportunity to reuse a tree for years, many people are Christmas tree purists, meaning only the real thing will suffice. In the case of real trees, come January they are dried piles of kindling, waiting for trouble. Sending them to the landfill is a terrible option because our dumps are already overfilled, and the tree is organic matter, able to feed the earth rather than contribute to damaging it. In the case of fake trees that are past their prime, we also have to consider how to responsibly dispose of them.


For those who are looking for more efficient and thoughtful ways of dealing with their waste, luckily there are several options for dealing with Christmas trees.

The Real Tree Options


While real Christmas trees produce more trash annually, they are also easier, more productive, and possibly more ecologically-friendly to deal with. Chemical-free organic matter should never really be a huge problem, so it is worth having that in mind when buying a tree: Forget the frost and let it go au naturel.

Making Mulch

Trees, dead or alive, are good for gardens. Pine needles make fantastic mulch for plant beds, so those can be collected and spread around. Limbs and trunks can be sliced up and thrown into rougher garden areas to rot down over the coming year, which means they are naturally feeding the soil as opposed to becoming contaminated in landfills. If the neighbors are interested in splitting the cost, a rented wood chipper could make a lot of mulch out of the whole neighborhood’s trees, or there are often tree-cycling set-ups near recycling centers.


Sprucing Up the Garden

Mulch isn’t the only garden option for old trees. Another option is to slice the trunks into discs and make garden borders. If the Christmas tree is still fairly healthy, the branches can be cut and used to shelter perennial plants from snow and frost. Finally, branches can be used as plant stakes — for tomatoes, green beans, etc. — in the coming year.

Feeding and Sheltering Animals

Old trees can be an opportunity to help out and attract wildlife. In the yard, old trees can be left in their stands, dotted with birdfeeders, such as peanut butter pinecones, to attract birds. Or, for those who have a pond or access to one, an old tree can be used to create habitats for fish and a surface upon which algae can grow to feed the fish. Obviously, an excess of fallen trees in a pond isn’t great but done moderately, the trees will simply rot away as would happen in nature.


Heating the Patio

Pine isn’t a particularly good firewood as it creates creosote build-up, but it can be used safely in an outdoor fire pit, where that isn’t an issue. For those who have an outdoor fire pit, old Christmas trees go up quickly, so they could be used over time for kindling or for a quick burning fire. Either way, they are fairly easy to chop up and stack for firewood.

Woodworking Projects

Again, pine isn’t a particularly wonderful wood for woodworking projects, but if the resource is there to use (or it will become garbage), we should make the most of it. Sliced trunks can be sanded and sealed to create coasters or trivets for putting hot pots or dishes on. Just remember that they will exude sap, so they need to be sealed before putting dishes or cups on them. These would work especially well for picnic table settings. The same discs could be used as stepping “stones” through the yard or garden.


Repurposing Fake Trees


As for fake trees, the best we can hope to do is repurpose them. Charity shops will often happily accept them and re-sell them to people. Otherwise, the trees can be dismantled to create other holiday decorations, like wreaths or garlands. A pine branch, artificial or not, always comes in handy during December, so rather than toss them in the trash, start imagining how they might become new items.

Environmentally speaking, the debate between real trees and fake ones is complex. It’s probably not a great thing for the environment to grow huge monocultures of Christmas trees to be cut down rather than mixed forests to grow old. But, it equally isn’t great to use petroleum products for Christmas trees as they’ll eventually be non-biodegradable trash.

Likely, our best ecological option is to simply plant a Christmas tree in the yard and use it each year, but admittedly, that has some holiday limitations. Perhaps buying a potted tree and planting it somewhere each year is a more realistic tradition. That works even better!

Lead Image Source: Flickr

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