6 Ways To Recycle Your Christmas Tree After The Holidays

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

December 22, 2017
christmas tree

After the holidays are over, you're faced with the thankless task of taking down the decorations (and your beautiful Christmas tree). But wait! Whatever you do, do not haul your tree to the curb.

(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)

You can actually recycle your Christmas tree and keep it from going to overflowing landfills. Below, we've compiled 6 ways for you to do it. 

Related: Here's Why Real Christmas Trees Are Better For The Environment

Make it into 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: Why I Don’t Use Chemicals On My Christmas Tree Farm—And Why You Should Buy An Organic Holiday Tree

bird on pine branch
Larry Keller, Lititz Pa./getty
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.)

Related: 10 Gorgeous Winter Birds To Watch From Your Backyard

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 the State of Louisiana's tree-based restoration project is the only one on our radar. 

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


compost bin in winter
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.

Related: How To Build The Ultimate Compost Bin

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.

Learn more about winter composting in the video below:


christmas tree
Turn it into a garden trellis

Move the tree to a corner of your yard where it's out of the way. In the spring you can set it up in your garden as a trellis for peas or beans.

Related: Growing Peas Has Never Been Easier Than This

christmas 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. Plus, a tiny Christmas tree can be just as beautiful as a big one.