Recycling Used Christmas Trees

Idea provided by Steve (the Editor) - January 2012

Wondering what to do with your old Christmas Tree (real trees that is, not the modern plastic varieties)?

If you have purchased a small tree with the root system intact you can of course plant it in the garden or in a pot and reuse it again next year. However if your tree was felled (cut off at the base) then it will be looking pretty brown by now and many of the needles will have fallen. So what can be done with it? Cutting it up and putting it a landfill bin is not an option these days. Here are some good ideas for things to do with old Christmas Trees:

Shred and Recycle your old Christmas Tree

You can cut the branches off and put them in the garden recycling bin (so long as the thickness of the branches complies with the requirements of your LA) or shred them if you have a shredder (or if you can borrow one) and use the shreddings as mulch for acid loving plants. This just leaves the trunk and any thick branches, which can be used in the garden as a plant support for trailing ivy etc. or cut-up for the fire.

Make your own Festive Coasters

You could also cut the trunk into thin disks and varnish them to be used as coasters.

Make a Winter Mulch

Even small unshredded branches can provide a good winter mulch for herbaceous plants, shrubs, and are perfect for keeping strawberries off the ground. Simply cut the branches off as small as you can and lay the pieces over the soil.

Shred your Tree at a Garden Centre

Alternatively you can take the whole tree to a garden centre that provides a free tree shredding service (many large ones do but it is best to phone first) or to municipal dump and put it in the green garden recycle waste unit. If you are transporting the tree in a car, first tie it up in an old sheet or cover with bin liners or garden sacks, otherwise the needles will drop all over the inside of the car!

Turn your Christmas Tree into a Wildlife Sanctuary

If your tree is small enough, and you have space in the garden, you could leave it lying on the ground to form a sanctuary for wildlife and allow it to rot down naturally.

Turn your Christmas Tree into a Decorative Bird Feeder

Another alternative is to fix the tree upright in the ground and redecorate it with strings of winter berries, popcorn, peanuts, small bags of seeds and fatballs etc. then leave it in the garden as a winter bird and squirrel feeder.

Make Pine Tree Fire Starters

The dried branches of spruce, fir and pine are highly flammable so they make ideal fire starters. Simple leave the tree in a sheltered spot to dry out, then when it is fully dry, cut the smaller branches off in 30 cm (1 ft) lengths and tie them together in bundles with garden string. Place them in a safe dry storage area and use them as starters for bonfires or log burners etc.

Make Home Made Christmas Tree Potpourri

Pine needles are an ideal ingredient for potpourri. Gather the dried needles from the branches and mix with dried flowers, dried foliage, pine cones, dried seed pods, empty nut shells and so on, then fragrance with cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and cloves or add fragrant essential oils.

Editors Note:

Why not let us know what you did with your old Christmas Tree - send us a photo and we will post it here. If any of our readers have any more gardening ideas, we would love to hear from you. Please email your suggestions to following address for our consideration:

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