Repurpose Your Live Christmas Tree

Tree Care

Over 30 million live Christmas trees will go into landfills at the end of December unless instead they are repurposed and used in landscaping. Consider turning your tree into mulch or pine straw or firewood or a trellis or an aquatic refuge.

Are you enjoying a live Christmas tree this year? You’re in good company. Over 30 million people in the United States also brought home live trees to decorate for the holidays.

That means those 30 million cut trees will be discarded after they’ve done their job and the season is over. What if, instead of being put out for the yard-waste pickup, old Christmas trees were repurposed for use in landscaping? Consider the possibilities.

Municipal Recycling and Exchange Programs

Check to see if your city has a special day for Christmas tree pickups. Many do, and they turn the trees into mulch for use in city-maintained landscaping. Others have a central collection location where residents can bring their trees, get them ground up, and collect the mulch. Still other cities have tree-swap programs where residents go home with a young, live tree in exchange for turning in their Christmas tree.

Call your city’s yard waste department or look on your city’s website to see what tree programs may be in place.

Make Your Own Pine Straw

Strip off the needles from your Christmas tree branches to make your own pine straw. By the end of December, the needles will be dry and brittle and easy to remove. Cut branches off the trunk first to make them manageable. If you decorate your home with fresh boughs, turn these into sources of pine straw also. Use the pine straw as mulch in a bed or container.

How to Use the Trunk

The most obvious use of a Christmas tree trunk is to cut it up and use it as firewood. It will burn better in a few months after it has dried out, so simply stack the cut pieces in a dry place until they’re ready to burn. Don’t burn boughs in a fireplace with pine needles attached. The needles contain oils and are very flammable. If you burn them outside, make sure you manage the fire and only burn small amounts at a time.

Consider cutting the trunk into two-inch slices and arranging them side by side in an area of ground as an interesting base for a container plant. You may want to coat them with a product that will keep them from disintegrating over time, if you like the look and want to preserve them.
Strip all branches off the trunk and then use the trunk to edge a section of a bed where mulch tends to escape into the yard.

Strip needles from the branches and use the tree as a trellis. Cut off select branches to create a pleasing shape. Make sure there’s enough trunk to put the tree into the ground securely.

Aquatic Haven

Do you live on a pond or a lake? Submerge your tree into it, making sure it’s anchored at the bottom with a weight. It will provide a refuge for fish and aquatic animals.

These are a few ways to repurpose your Christmas tree that will benefit your landscape. For more ideas, check Pinterest or other online idea galleries.