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8 Ways to Reuse, Repurpose or Recycle Your Christmas Tree

January 3, 2018, 9:00 AM
  • 8 easy ways to reuse or repurpose your tree
  • BEWARE of using it as firewood
  • Save time and money by not taking it to the tip
Avoid the hassle of taking your tree to the tip by finding other uses for it. Image: Getty

If you opted for a real Christmas tree this year, instead of one of the viral artificial ones, you’re probably going to end up wondering what to do with it after the festive season.

We’ve found some great, eco friendly alternatives instead of binning your tree after Christmas.

1. Replant it

If your tree has roots, you can replant it in your garden and use it again next year.

This zero waste way of reusing a tree means that next Christmas, you’ll save money on getting a tree, and you’ll also get a new plant for the rest of the year.

You can even do this if you don’t have space to plant it in your garden.

A Christmas tree can be planted in a pot with fresh compost, and put in the garden to enjoy all year round.

The tree being in a pot also means you won’t have to dig it up next year, instead you can just bring it in from outside still in the pot.

2. Recycle it

Local authorities, garden centres, and community groups have made it easier than ever to recycle your tree.

You’ll just need to take the decorations down and remove the tree from its’ pot or stand, then leave it at the boundary of your garden.

Alternatively, you can drop it off at a designated communal collection point, which can be found here.

Once the tree has been taken, it will be shredded into chippings that are distributed in local parks or woodland areas, so it’s a much more eco friendly, and simple, way of getting rid of a tree.

3. Bird or Small Animal Feeding Station or Habitat

Most Christmas trees are felled without roots, so cannot be replanted; if this is the case for your tree, there are still loads of alternative uses for it.

One of these is to turn the tree into a bird or other small animal feeding station to put in your garden.

To do this, cut the tree down to a few feet high and drill out the trunk to create a hole for bird see and other bird food.

The tree being outside can also make it a home for other wildlife, and it will naturally break down in size, so if you do decide to get rid of the tree, there will be less going into landfill.

4. Put it in your fish tank

One surprising use for an old Christmas tree is to put it in a fish tank, pond, or into a river.

If you have a pond, you can just throw the old tree in there, although depending on the size of your pond you might want to chop it up a bit first.

If you don’t have a pond, chucking it in a river or stream is also an option.

The weight of the tree in the water will act as an anchor and keep the habitat in place, so you have an underwater landmark where fish can live and hide from predators, like fishermen.

You can also take smaller branches or parts of the tree to put in your fish tank at home.

In the wild, many branches fall into ponds and lakes which give fish a place to hide, and this is safe to do to your fish at home, as long as you make sure that the branches are fully clean before putting them in the tank.

5. Repurpose is as a pathway

You can make a simple and free pathway through your garden with the trunk of an old Christmas tree.

Chop the trunk into discs, which can be used as a path, a lining for flower beds, edging around plants.

As well as adding some visual interest into your landscaping, your garden will smell like Christmas for many months to come.

6. Turn the tree into mulch or compost

An old Christmas tree can decorate your garden, and help it to flourish.

Your tree is biodegradable, and whatever you do with it, it will eventually rot.

Take advantage of this process by using it as mulch or compost for your garden.

Branches and needles are a great source of mulch - you won’t even need extra equipment to use it

If you store up the needles that your tree has shed throughout the festive period, you can use these as mulch for your garden.

Smaller branches can be removed and chipped, and then mixed with the needled to scatter in the garden.

A thin layer of evergreen branches is the best base for a new compost pile, as they allow a bit of airflow at the bottom of a pile, and the branches will break down over time.

To do this, just trim them down so they’ll fit in a compost bin, then stack them between four to six inches high, the just put other compostables on top as usual.

7. Use it as firewood

A more traditional, and very common, use for an old Christmas tree is to chop it up and use it as firewood.

One thing to be careful for, is not to just cut up bits of the tree and put them into an indoor fireplace or wood stove.

All evergreens, including Christmas trees, are full of sap, which is quite flammable; if you really want to use it for an indoor fireplace, make sure that it has been properly dried.

However, you can safely use an old tree as kindling for an outdoor bonfire, as it will burn hot and fast, just make sure that the wood is dry before burning.

8. Return it

If you can’t do any of the above alternative, you can return the tree to where you got it from, although this may depend on the seller.

Some large tree farms will take a tree back after Christmas, but you should contact them first before showing up with your tree.

The tree can then be replanted, or left to decompose naturally.

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