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. Here are creative ways you can dispose of your Christmas tree or recycle it.
10 Things to Do With an Old Christmas Tree
1. Mulch With Pine Needles
Pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly, making them an excellent moisture- and mold-free mulch for ground-covering crops, such as strawberries, to rest on.
2. Create a Bird Sanctuary with the Boughs
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.
3. Insulate Perennials the Boughs
Cut off boughs and lay them over perennial beds to protect them from snow and reduce frost heaving.
4. Edge Your Borders with the Trunk
Cut the trunk into 2-inch discs and set them into the soil to edge flower beds or walkways.
5. Shelter Fish with Branches
If you live near a lake or have a pond, and your tree’s chemical-free, toss branches into the water to provide sheltering habitat for overwintering fish. (Get permission from town officials if needed.)
6. Set a Stage for Containers with the Trunk
Saw the trunk into different lengths and use the pieces as flowerpot risers for a dramatic group display.
7. Make Coasters and Trivets with Trunk
Cut thin slabs off the trunk, sand them smooth, and apply a thin coat of polyurethane to keep the sap off tables and glassware.
8. Chip It and Use it to Add Nutrients to Soil
Rent a chipper (get a few neighbors together to split the cost) and feed the tree through it. Next spring, spread the wood chips under shrubs; they’ll suppress weeds and, as they decompose, add nutrients to the soil.
9. Feed a Fire Pit with Branches
It’s fine to use a few of the quick-to-ignite branches to start an outdoor fire pit—but never in an indoor fireplace, where creosote build-up is a hazard.
10. Stake Your Plants with Smaller Branches
Strip small branches and use the remaining twigs to support indoor potted plants or stake leggy seedlings.