It’s served its duty, but it’s not done yet!

You’ve selected the most beautiful tree from the farm, bedazzled it with tinsel and ornaments, and it’s served its Christmas duty well–but what can you do with it in the new year? Before your tree begins to really deteriorate, you must consider how to recycle it. While you can drop the whole tree off at a recycling center, you can also put it to good use in your garden. Here’s some tips on letting your tree serve a purpose after the holidays.

1. Make some mulch.

Use the boughs and pine needles as an excellent mulch in your garden. Dry pine will retain the moisture in your soil, and your garden will thank you for it with a beautiful look in the spring!

2. Make a plant shelter.

Cut and strip branches from your Christmas tree and stack them together around your more delicate plants. This easy, natural shelter will shield your plants from snow and frost, ensuring their survival through the winter.

3. Make some coasters.

Take the trunk from your tree and slice it into slabs. Sand them down so they become smooth, then coat with a polyurethane varnish. They’ll make excellent coasters when dry–and they also make great gifts for next year.

4. Stoke a fire (outdoors only!)

It’s definitely not a good idea to use pine in your fireplace, as it can gum up and dirty your chimney. But there’s no reason not to use the wood for an outdoor and open fire pit! Settle the family around a warm, cozy fire fueled by the tree.

5. Feed the birds.

We love this idea, which is great to get the children involved in. Take some stripped branches and twigs from your tree, then slather in peanut butter. Dip them in bird seed to coat with a tasty treat for the birds! Leave them outside for wildlife to nibble at.

6. Make wood chips.

If you or a neighbor has a wood chipper, feed your tree in for some pine chips. Hold onto these, and spread under your shrubs in the springtime. Not only will the chips enrich your soil as they decompose, but they’ll keep weeds from growing out as well.

7. Give the squirrels some shelter.

This is probably the simplest out of all the things to do with an old tree: cut off a section from the top (about two feet) and leave it in the yard. Your discarded tree top will give the squirrels a great place to feed and play!

8. Support a house plant.

Strip some twigs from the boughs and use them as stakes for supporting a delicate house plant. 

9. Plant your tree in the garden.

If your tree has a root ball or container at its base, don’t let it die now! Plant it in your garden. It’s not difficult–in fact, we’ll tell you how easy it is!

10. Recycle it.

Many of the tips above don’t make use of the whole tree, which means you’ll need to find a way to recycle what’s left behind–or maybe you want to get rid of the entire tree altogether. 

Most communities collect trees with the recycling. You’ll want to remove any decorations from your tree, then take it to wherever location your community accepts trees for recycling. You can also look for a local non-profit organization (like the Boy Scouts!) who might be offering tree pickups.

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