Well, another Christmas has come and gone. The presents have all been opened, the ham cooked, and the extended relatives have come and gone. Have you taken down your decorations yet? I know mine are coming down today when I get a moment, but as always, that leaves the same questions hundreds of people are asking: what do you do with a live Christmas tree after Christmas? How do you recycle a live Christmas tree? Don’t worry—you’re not the only one scratching their head, but there are way more options than you think! Here are seven things you can do with your Christmas tree after the holiday has come and gone:
1. Use it as a bird feeder through the winter
This is one of my favorite options. All you have to do is place the tree outside (make sure it’s weighted or tied down somewhere out of the way!) and then smear it with suet, hang pine cones with peanut butter on it, drape popcorn and cranberry strings on it (provided there are no preservatives), scatter dried fruit or stale bread, and then watch the birds and critters flock to its boughs! This can be a great way to extend the usefulness of the tree until the spring, when you can turn the wood into something useful.
2. Take it to a recycling center
Most communities have some sort of community Christmas tree recycling program. Check with your trash service, recycling center, or local authorities to see if there is somewhere you can take the tree to be mulched and used. Some places may simply allow you to set it on the curb, while others may have you physically transport it yourself. If you’re moving it yourself, be sure to bag it first so you don’t have to clean up millions of dried needles!
3. Mulch it
If you have access to a wood chipper, then you can use your old Christmas tree as mulch! Some people also use the needles to help keep plant beds warm. If you don’t have access to a wood chipper, then you can always contact your local park service and see if they have the ability to mulch trees to use in public parks.
4. Burn it in the fireplace
If you have a fireplace or wood stove, then why wouldn’t you use your Christmas tree for extra fuel? Keep in mind that you should try and avoid using the pine needles as they can sometimes spark, and you’ll need to let the wood dry out for a while before it can be burned. Don’t expect to just chop it up and throw it in the fireplace immediately!
5. Make coasters/other wood projects
Chop the branches into little discs and stain and seal for pretty coasters, or cut them into thin strips or discs and paint them for decoration around the home. I’ve also heard of people using the wood for Christmas ornaments, candle holders, or any number of other crafts.
6. Burn it and scatter the ashes
Pine ashes can be full of nutrients that are really good for the soil. If you’re not in the mood to deal with chopping it up, then why not gather together some friends and have a bonfire? Then, simply gather the ashes and spread them in the spring.
7. Weight it down and place in a pond
Trees can be great for your pond’s habitat! Tie a cement block to the tree and drop it in the water (or on the ice and let nature deposit it for you when it gets warmer). The branches will encourage algae growth and provide a habitat for fish and other creatures. I wouldn’t do this every year, and definitely not in any streams or anything, but it can provide some great breeding grounds for your aquatic critters.
What do you do with your Christmas tree? Share with me in the comments below!