What to Do with Christmas Trees after Holidays? Recycle Them!

Tanja Folnovic

Agronomy Expert

With Christmas over, there's likely a plant in your house whose glory is rapidly fading. Pity the poor evergreen, which rarely gets to see the inside of anyone's house except for a few short weeks in December. And now you're done with it. But what can you do with a tree? After the holidays, don’t throw your real Christmas tree. It's biodegradable, which means it can be easily reused or recycled for mulch and other purposes. Here are some recycling options and tips on what to do with your tree after the holidays:

Make mulch from branches

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.


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 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.

Give it to the fish

Sink your tree in a pond. 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.

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. This compost and wood chip mulch are mostly used in gardens, in order to have healthier landscapes and perfectly good organic matter. Compost and mulch from conifers is acidic, and is extremely suitable for use in blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, gooseberries and other plants that like acidic habitat.


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.

Living, rooted trees

You could get a rooted (ball and burlap or containerized) tree and then plant it in your yard after Christmas. It's a good idea to pre-dig the hole in the late fall while the soil is still soft, then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas. Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates.


Soil erosion barriers

Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management. Recycling Christmas trees is an easy way to make a big impact on the environment. You can recycle your Christmas tree and keep it from going to overflowing landfills.


Source: Rodale's OrganicLife