Christmas is over and the new year has begun, so you may be wondering how to get rid of your old Christmas tree. Your local council will have disposal schemes, so check their website for drop-off points or even whether they will collect from your doorstep.

In our previous blog Branch Out – Grow Your Christmas Tree, we mentioned that zoos will sometimes accept Christmas trees for their animals, but this is not the only creative use for old trees. Different areas have different schemes. In Merseyside trees are used to protect the sand dunes and sea defences, while in West Yorkshire they bulk out the hedgerows and form safety barriers around the Ogden reservoir. Schemes such as these can usually be found through your local council.

Shred It

Shredding your tree can be a great way to recycle your tree for the garden. If you don’t have a shredder, perhaps ask a neighbour, or check with your local garden centre whether they will accept trees for shredding. Make sure to wear safety equipment (gloves and googles), and shred the branches one by one. The trunk may be too thick for a shredder but a Winton Wood Chipper could be an ideal solution. These are available from Farm Tech Supplies.

Once your tree has been shredded it can be used as mulch. This can prevent soil compaction and soil erosion from heavy rainfall, as well as protecting the roots of evergreens, conifers, tender perennials and shrubs from a heavy frost.

A shredded tree can also be used sparingly in the compost heap. However, be aware that the waxy needles will take quite some time to break down.

Piece by Piece

If you don’t want to shred your tree, the components can all be utilised for fun creative projects as well as uses in the garden. The whole tree can be used as an animal habitat to provide wildlife with crucial shelter during the coldest months.

Stripping the needles from the tree can create a great frame for climbing flowers and vegetables. Or if you would like to continue the festive feel, create a Christmas tree for the birds, by adorning it with food ‘decorations’. This can be fun for all the family. Threading plain popcorn onto a thread creates a fabulous food substitute for tinsel. Baubles can be made by dipping pine cones in peanut butter and rolling them in seeds. Suet mixed with bird seed and set in festive shapes are also great decorations which the birds will appreciate.

The branches are ideal for creating insulation for more delicate plants during the colder months. The needles do not need to be simply thrown away either. They can be sprinkled on a muddy path for better grip.

New Life as Home Décor

The home-crafter may enjoy turning their Christmas tree into something new for their house. A section of the trunk can be simply repurposed as a candle holder. Just saw the trunk to the right size, length- or width-wise, then drill a hole, or holes, for tealights or whichever size of candle you decide. Finally seal the wood, to protect it from light wear-and-tear.

A chunk of the trunk combined with the needles and some spices of your choice can be used to make potpourri with a wonderfully seasonal aroma. Simply place the stump in a shallow heat-proof bowl and add water up to the halfway mark. Then scatter the needles and other spices, such as cloves or cinnamon sticks, in the water, and put the container somewhere warm. This will fill your home with a fantastic festive scent.

Recycling a Christmas tree is only limited by your imagination!