Recycle That Christmas Tree

12 Ideas to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

December 18, 2017
Sad Christmas Tree
Jacob Jarvela

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, take down your Christmas tree … then what? Here are ideas from our readers on how to recycle that tree.

  1. If you bought a potted tree, you can plant it outdoors in the spring!
  2. Prop up your old Christmas tree near your bird feeder as a staging area for small birds like chickadees and finches.
  3. Trim the branches from the tree, and saw the trunk into several pieces. Tie the pieces together and store the bundle in the cellar. This will make an aromatic Yule fire in your fireplace next Christmas Eve.
  4. Use the branches from your Christmas tree to mulch perennials and shrubs.
  5. Your Christmas tree makes an ideal bird feeder and haven. String it with your popcorn and cranberry garland or other bird-friendly goodies, and put it in a sheltered location.
  6. Use boughs from your Christmas tree to shade broad-leaved evergreen shrubs and to ward off animals.
  7. Building a house or know someone who is? Nail the tree to the peak of the roof rafters, to bring good luck.
  8. Sew scraps of fabric together and fill them with Christmas tree needles. These make fragrant balsam sachets that can freshen drawers and closets.
  9. Collect trees from several neighbors and line them up along your driveway or sidewalk as a windbreak. Anchor them to cement blocks, and bury the blocks in the snow.
  10. Pile Christmas tree boughs around tree trunks to discourage neighborhood dogs.
  11. Use dried-out sprigs to ignite kindling in your woodstove or fireplace.
  12. Give the tree to a friend or neighbor who has a woodchipper.

​Please share any more ideas below!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Artificial tree

Are there any ideas to recycle an artificial Christmas tree???? Ours is dropping needles so we are going to replace it and I was wondering if anybody knows what we can do with the old one other than leaving it for garbage pick up.

Total use of your tree

My kids hated to see any Christmas tree discarded, so we put ours outside with bird treats such as pine cones rolled in peanut butter and bird seeds, slices of orange and apple strung on the branches, popcorn and cranberries as mentioned in the article and suet melted with bird seeds cooled and cut into shapes and placed in net onion bags and tied onto the branches. In spring when it was time for the garden to go in, we used the tree to grow pole beans and climbing peas. When the fall came, the tree was cut up and used in our fire pit on chilly evenings. Total recycling, and it honours the tree as well as being useful.

Great Ideas

The Editors's picture

Those are all great uses! Thanks for sharing.

Recycling Christmas Trees

Drop your tree in a lake, tank, or pond to provide a hiding place for baby fish and small fish to grow.

recycling used Christmas trees

Make sure that you remove any and all ornaments from the tree such as tinsel and frosting before placing the tree in a lake or pond.

Consult Experts

The Editors's picture

Do make sure that you have permission from the land owner before doing this! We would also strongly recommend consulting your state’s wildlife or environmental management agency before introducing anything into the environment. 

Christmas Tree Recycling for the Fish

We always bring our tree to the lake. Area fishermen and sometimes the Corps of Engineers sink the trees in the lake. The trees provide protection to the small fish from preditors. The small fish grow and are eventually caught by the fishermen. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

Recycling live Christmas Trees

If you live near a body of water (lake, river or stream), submerge the tree. It serves as a shelter for baby and bait fish. When piled up on a beach, ice fishermen grab them and stand the trees upright in their fishing holes. That way skaters won't fall into the hole and the tree will sink by itself when the snow melts. Christmas trees are also used to mark the snowmobile trails over the ice from the mainland out to islands and/or ice fishing grounds in Michigan.

Christmas Tree Recycle

If you are near Hohenwald, Tennessee, The Elephant Sanctuary will take them and give to the elephants. They are very appreciative. Google The Elephant Sanctuary Tennessee, click on News, then Elenotes and the process is there.

Thank you

That's a very good idea, wish I lived close enough to bring mine, and hoping those who do live close do that!

Christmas tree recycling

Pine is not recommended to burn in a fireplace. Too much resin in the wood burns too hot and creates a smokey fire that can cause build-up of tar and creosote. Save it for an outside fire, but not inside.

what to do with your used christmas tree

Goats love Christmas trees! Offer the trees to farmers or sanctuaries! Also some zoo animals enjoy Christmas trees, elephants, for instance.