A Christmas bauble hangs from a tree inside a store in the U.K. Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Six ways to recycle your Christmas tree

Learn several creative ways to reuse your real, cut Christmas tree, and find out what to do with a living, pot-grown tree when the festive period is over.

When the celebrations are over and decorations have been packed away, it’s time to think about how to reuse your cut Christmas tree, instead of sending it to landfill. From shredding it to make mulch to using it as a frame for climbing plants, there are many ways to put the wood and needles to good use.

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Discover six ways to recycle your Christmas tree, below. Plus, find out what to do with your living, containerised (pot-grown) Christmas tree.


1

Create woodchip mulch

Convert your old Christmas tree into useful woodchip mulch by putting it through a shredder. Stack the chips at the back of a border for a few months to rot down before using them to mulch around trees and shrubs. If you don’t own a shredder, you can rent one, ask a neighbour, or contact your local gardening club. Find out which areas to mulch in your garden.

Mulching a euphorbia

2

Make mulch from the needles

Keep the Christmas tree on the patio until the needles fall off, then collect the needles to use as a mulch for acid-loving plants such as blueberries. Discover acid-loving plants in our Plant Finder.

Recycle the Christmas tree

3

Use it as a frame for climbers

Plant the bare tree in a garden border, then grow climbers such as sweet peas over it. You can also use twiggy branches as plant supports – keep them somewhere dry and use them in the summer. Take inspiration from these 10 scented climbers.

Grow Sweet Peas in Pots from Plugs

4

Create a wildlife shelter

Trim twigs to short lengths, tie them in a bundle, then hang in a bush for bugs to hide in. Or, chop the trunk into pieces and stack to create a mini refuge for wildlife. Learn three ways to build a deadwood habitat.

Make a log pile

5

Use as insulation for tender plants

Chop large branches from the tree, and lay them over plants on the soil surface to protect them from frost. These common garden 10 plants need winter protection.

Branch of a Christmas tree
6

Give it to your local council, garden centre or nature reserve

Alternatively, give the tree to your local council’s green waste scheme. Most councils collect festive conifers in the new year and chip them to make municipal compost or mulch. You can also contact your local garden centre, or donate your tree to a coastal nature reserve, where it may be used to stabilise sand dunes.

Choosing a Christmas tree

More ways to recycle Christmas

Natural decorations

  • Hang out holly and other berried greenery for birds to eat
  • Stuff foliage inside a large flower pot, turned on its side for bees and other insects to nest in
  • Chop up and compost.

Peelings and leftovers

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  • Mix raw veg and fruit remains with a little paper and add to the compost heap or bin
  • Use leftover fat or oil mixed with unsalted nuts and dried fruit to make a high-energy bird food.

Is yours a living, pot-grown tree?

Most Christmas trees sold in pots like to be kept cool. Providing you’ve kept your tree in a cool indoor position for a couple of weeks at most, it should survive. You could plant it out in the garden after Christmas, or repot it into a larger pot until next year.

Pot cut out