6 Ways To Recycle Your Christmas Tree

Keep your Christmas tree out of a landfill with these ideas.

December 27, 2016
throwing away christmas tree
Laura Stone/shutterstock

Wait! Do not haul your tree to the curb. You can recycle your Christmas tree and keep it from going to overflowing landfills. Here's how:

(Start your year off on the right foot with healthy recipes, inspiring imagery, and gardening—all inside the Rodale’s Organic Life 2017 Calendar!)

pine branch
Make Mulch

Cut off the boughs and place them on the ground like a blanket to protect plants that are susceptible to windburn, plants that are marginally hardy in your area, and plants that might come up early and be nipped by a late spring frost, such as fall-planted pansies or early emerging perennials. (Keep reading for ideas on what to do with the trunk.)

Related: Don't Toss Your Christmas Tree In The Trash

bird on pine branch
Trevor Jones/shutterstock
Give It To The Birds

Move the tree in its stand outdoors for the winter, where it can provide food and shelter for wild birds. Even better, put the tree near a bird feeder or hang bird treats from the tree—like bags of suet (animal fat you can get at most grocery stores) or a small piece of wood or thick cardboard smeared with a mix of birdseed and peanut butter—and it will not only attract birds but feed them, too. (Just avoid these 6 things to never feed backyard birds.)

Dudarev Mikhail/shutterstock
Give It To The Fish

Sink your tree in a pond (with permission, of course). In deep water, old trees become habitats for fish and aquatic insects. In shallow wetlands, trees can act as barriers to sand and soil erosion—though currently only the State of Louisiana has a tree-based restoration project in place. For more information, go to savelawetlands.org.

Related: The Environmental Benefits Of Christmas Trees

wood chips
Ermak Oksana/shutterstock
Compost Or Chip It

Call your municipality's administrative office to find out if your town has a special day for picking up Christmas trees or a place where you can take them after the holidays where they will be ground into wood chips and/or composted. Often you can go to the municipal compost site in spring and get free compost and/or wood chip mulch for your garden. Of course, you won't recognize the chips/compost from your tree, but you can feel good knowing that it's helping other gardeners have healthier landscapes and that you've kept perfectly good organic matter from clogging a landfill.

dead tree
Petr Bonek/shutterstock
Turn It Into A Trellis

Move the tree to a corner of your yard, and in the spring set it up in your garden as a trellis for peas or beans.

Related: Why You Should Buy An Organic Christmas Tree This Year

potted pine tree
Plan To Plant For Next Christmas

Think balled-and-burlapped when you purchase next year's tree, and you'll be able to plant the tree after the holidays.