Ways to Recycle a Live Christmas Tree
Not only are real trees better for the environment before they are even harvested and used as Christmas trees, but they can continue benefiting the world around us after the presents are opened and the ornaments are back in storage.
Below are several ideas for recycling your fresh Christmas tree after the holidays.
Christmas Tree RecyclingEach year in early January we offer free Xmas tree recycling in Evergreen, CO. Just bring your tree & we'll take care of it!
Mulch It Up
Completely biodegradable, the branches of the tree can be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in gardens and lawns. The mulch suppresses weeds, provides added nutrients to the soil, helps retain moisture, and protects roots.
We are offering a place where you can bring your Christmas tree to recycle it and turn it into mulch (see box for details). Or, if you have a wood chipper, you can cut the tree into smaller pieces and (carefully) feed it into the chipper. If you don’t live near us, check online for alternate community collection sites to recycle your tree.
Prop a tree up to use as a trellis (vines like morning glory and scarlet runner beans will quickly cover it next summer). Or use the trunk and branches to create something crafty, like using slices of the truck to make Christmas ornaments for next year! And don’t forget about the needles; they can be used in homemade potpourri.
Feed the Fish
Some communities purposefully place trees into ponds and lakes to create fish feeding areas. In deep water, trees can become habitats for fish and other aquatic animals. In shallow water, they can act as barriers to soil erosion by stabilizing the shoreline. Check with any local parks and recreation departments before doing this though (unless it is your own private pond). Alternatively, check with a lake association or fishing club to see if they might want your tree.
Feed the Birds
Placing the tree in the backyard (with all decorations, tinsel, etc. removed) makes an excellent bird feeder or sanctuary. You can use orange slices, popcorn, peanut butter, or birdfeed to attract the birds, who will often perch on the branches. By the following year, the branches will become brittle and you can place the tree in a chipper to use for mulch (see #1)
Take a Hike
Some communities will recycle the trees and use the materials for hiking paths and trails. Since the tree material is completely natural, it works well in the hiking setting, and benefits hikers and community members. The mulch made from Christmas trees is ideal, since the mulched trees have no invasive seeds, they cushion the walking paths, and they deter erosion. Plus the trunks can be used to mark the edges of paths.
Plant Your Tree
It may be too late this year, but next year consider buying a tree that still has roots (usually in dirt wrapped in burlap) that you can then plant in your yard after the holidays. We recommend digging the hole for the tree in fall before the ground freezes and then planting the tree immediately after Christmas.
Other Christmas Tree Recycling Ideas
Other ways that Christmas trees are recycled include animal enrichment at zoos, salmon spawning areas in Oregon, rebuilding sand dunes after hurricanes, rebuilding islands, creating wildlife habitats, coastline repair, improving fishing areas, building parks, creating fuel for mills in different areas of the country, and more!
Note: Never burn a Christmas tree in a fireplace or a wood stove.