Old Tannenbaum? 9 Things You Can Do With Your Used Christmas Tree

by Team HomeServe
Christmas Tree Recycling Drop Off

Millions of Christmas trees decorate homes every year. If yours is one of them, come January 1, you may be wondering what to do with that old tree. Surely, there's a better idea than just dumping it on the street.

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Fortunately, you have some great options when deciding how to dispose of your Christmas tree. You can recycle it, upcycle it or even help it bring new life to your garden. Check out these ideas for your used Christmas tree.

1. Burn It

Chop up your old Christmas tree to use as fuel in your outdoor fire pit. You can chop the trunk into logs and use the branches and needles as kindling. Be careful when you touch the match to the old tree, though, as pine trees ignite quickly.

If you're thinking of burning your Christmas tree in a fireplace indoors, you should probably let it sit for several months first. Pine trees contain creosote, which can result in soot and stickiness throughout your fireplace and chimney. Drying the tree out (for as long as a year) seasons the tree to avoid the creosote buildup.

2. Recycle It

If energy efficiency and sustainability are close to your heart, you may want to recycle your tree. Check with your local trash or sanitation department. They may be set up to recycle your Christmas tree as part of your weekly trash pickup. Various garden centers and nurseries might also be willing to take your old Christmas tree to chop into woodchips.

3. Replant It

Yes, you can plant your Christmas tree after you're done enjoying it — even if you didn't buy a living Christmas tree. Christmas trees are quite resilient, and even with their roots sawed off, many of them will regenerate. Try planting your tree in a pot or even outside in your garden, and see if it might recover and start sending out new roots.

4. Make an Animal Shelter

Small animals need shelter during the often harsh weather of winter, and your old Christmas tree can help them out. Lay your tree down sideways in a corner of your garden, and secure it so it doesn't blow around. Animals and even insects can find a welcome home in its branches.

5. Create Bird Feeders

You can hang bird feeders off your old Christmas tree to keep birds well fed during the winter months when it can be hard for them to find food. Coat pinecones with peanut butter, then roll them in birdseed to attract birds, or fill scooped-out oranges with birdseed. Hang them off the tree, and add a birdhouse to give your feathered friends a place to get out of the cold.

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6. Support Other Plants

If you strip your Christmas tree of its needles, you have an ideal frame to use in your garden. Its tree trunk and branches can serve as stakes for climbing flowers, tomatoes or bean plants. Some pests that might harm your vegetables don't like pine wood, so these homemade stakes may provide another layer of protection to your home-grown crops.

7. Turn It Into Woodchips

Wood chips can be a healthy addition to your garden. You can use them to kill weeds and create walkable paths over the dirt. As the chips decompose, they even add nutrients to the soil. Just run your old Christmas tree through a chipper — if you don't own one, team up with your neighbors to rent one, splitting the cost.

8. Compost It

Adding your tree to your compost heap is a great way to use it after the holidays. Let it dry out until the needles have all fallen off. Then, cut it into chunks and add the pieces to your compost pile in a 2-to-1 ratio of brown and green materials. If you create more compost than you can use in your own yard, consider reaching out to a compost service to share your wealth.

9. Use It as Mulch

You can use mulch to protect tree roots, keep the ground from becoming frozen, prevent soil erosion and add nutrients to the soil. Don't worry about the acid content of the pine needles. Because they dry fast and decompose slowly, they retain moisture well, and they don't even add enough acid to the soil to help those plants, such as blueberries, that really love acid. An added benefit: Pine needles don't attract mold, making them a great choice to use with strawberries and other crops that sit directly on the ground.