How to recycle your Christmas tree to help your garden

It’s that time of year when we start to clear away our Christmas decorations and get our homes all freshened up for the new year. But if you have had a cut living Christmas tree this holiday season, you may be trying to decide the best way to dispose of it.

There are a few ways that you can recycle your Christmas tree yourself at home that can benefit your garden and the wildlife within it. Find some of the best methods to get the most out of your tree after Christmas.

Real christmas tree inside the home

Allow it to rot

The great thing about using a real tree is that it is 100% biodegradable. This means there are some extremely low-maintenance ways to remove your Christmas tree if you have the space to leave it out in your garden.

You can make this a slightly tidier and faster process by cutting up your tree into smaller sticks and stacking it up somewhere that won’t be too disruptive or in the way. Try to find somewhere in a shaded spot. Once it does rot down, within 1 to 2 years, it can add some helpful nutrients to the soil.

Cutting apart a real christmas tree

Use it as a wildlife shelter

If you are leaving your tree out to rot, by chopping and stacking it you can create the perfect wildlife shelter, which can also be great for insects. Using a pair of sharp secateurs, or a saw if the trunk is quite thick, you can make it into lots of smaller pieces. Over winter, this could be a great habitat for hibernating mammals like hedgehogs.

You could also use your spent Christmas tree for a ‘dead hedge’, which is made up of pruned branches and twigs, held into place using some wooden posts. Branches from your Christmas tree can be woven into your dead hedge, and you could even ask your friends, family, and neighbours to contribute if they can/want to. This could also provide a wildlife habitat in the garden and can make a lovely feature if you need some separation or substantial bordering in areas of your garden.

Dead hedge garden christmas tree wildlife

Create mulch

There are a couple of ways that you can use your old Christmas tree to create a mulch: one from the tree itself, and another from just the needles.

To make a woodchip mulch, you need to shred your tree in a shredder. You likely won’t have your shredder at home. However, you could ask around your neighbours in case any of them would mind loaning it to you, you could rent one short term, or you could even reach out to local gardening clubs to see if you could loan or rent one if they have one.

Woodchip mulch is great for well-established beds, and for mulching trees and shrubs during the winter, to help the soil to retain moisture over winter. Here are some plants that will benefit most from a woodchip mulch:

  • Fruit trees
  • Mature shrubs
  • Woody perennials

You can also make a mulch using the needles. To make the needles easier to collect, try to leave your tree on a paved area outside, so you can sweep the fallen needles up in no time. These needles are a fantastic mulch for plants that are acid-loving, such as the following:

  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Lingonberries
  • Bilberries
Wood chip mulch
Needle mulch

Take your tree to your local council

Before you commit to any particular method, make sure to check with your local council what measurements they have for green waste.

You can often take your Christmas tree to your local household waste recycling centre. Your tree would go in the green waste container that they would have available there.

Some councils will also be able to collect your Christmas tree alongside your green waste bin, but, again, be sure to check your local council’s website.

What about pot-grown Christmas trees?

You don’t necessarily have to dispose of your pot-grown Christmas tree if you’ve taken good care of it.

The great thing about pot-grown Christmas trees is that they stay in their pot, living, whilst still indoors. This means that you can plant it back out in your garden to keep living and enjoying in your garden for many years to come.

pot grown Christmas trees

Make the most of your Christmas tree after the festive season ends by benefitting your garden plants, and local wildlife too.

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