Recycling Christmas trees

Posted: Wednesday 28 December 2011
by Pippa Greenwood

I love real Christmas trees - the look of them, the aroma of the needles [...]

Hands holding shredded Christmas tree

I love real Christmas trees - the look of them, the aroma of the needles (yes it is still the classic Picea abies or Norway spruce for me). But I’m the first to admit, that towards the end of its time in the sitting room, the tree often starts to shed a fair number of needles. The same happens, whether it is one we’ve dug up and planted in a massive paper-wrapped pot, or a tree that has had its roots severed.

So what’s going to happen to it when we take it down? I know people who use old Christmas trees as temporary bird food racks – decked with peanut feeders, fat balls and anything else to hand they can look amazingly OK. And the birds love to have the extra food.

But ideally you should compost the tree sooner or later. Home composting of Christmas trees is very difficult because it takes ages (and don’t try putting it through a shredder as the resin can cause a seriously sticky mess.) Check out local directories and newspapers for council composting schemes, or find out whether the garden centre or other outlet you bought it from will take it back - many do. Meanwhile, the fallen needles have a great use - they work amazingly effectively as a slug and snail barrier.

So, before you add it to the bonfire, turn it into a bird-restaurant, or take it off to be composted, run a tough-gloved hand down each branch, and remove any loose needles. They’re far better being used to keep slugs at bay, than wedged into the car or sitting room upholstery.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Recycling Christmas trees
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

oldchippy 28/12/2011 at 21:18

Last year I put as many needles that came off the tree under my two rhododendron to make the soil more acid,We are just off the north downs where the soil is over chalk, The rest got chopped up and some went in the compost but it always takes a long time to brake down.

higgy50 07/01/2012 at 01:09

Thanks for the advice, I had planned to shred and compost mine! Now I've read this I will probably stick it under the hedge at the bottom of the garden and let it dry out before shredding it....Don't like to waste any valuable material!!

<a title="higgy's garden project" href="" target="_blank"></a>


chiswickian 07/01/2012 at 12:40

Do the needles not make an excellent mulch for blueberries? That's my plan anyway.