Recycle Your Christmas Trees into the Landscape

There are numerous ways to reuse and recycle Christmas trees after the holidays. Here are a few tips and ideas from gardening expert, Melinda Myers.

Don't drag that Christmas tree to the curb to be hauled away by the trash collectors. Give it a second, even third life, in your landscape. No live Christmas tree? Don't worry! I'm sure your friends and neighbors will share theirs.

Ideas for Recycling Christmas Trees

Move your cut Christmas tree outdoors after the holidays. Sweep all the fallen needles and use them as mulch in the garden. Place them directly on the soil or on top of the snow. As the snow melts, the needles will be right where they belong. And don't worry, they will not make the soil too acidic. In fact, as they break down they will add organic matter to the soil.

Use your cut Christmas tree as a windbreak or for added shade for plants in your landscape to prevent drying of the needles. Strategically place your discarded tree on the windward side of rhododendron, boxwood and other broadleaf evergreens to reduce problems with winter burn. Place it on the south side of these plants to shade them from the drying winter sun.

Or remove the branches and use them as winter mulch over bulbs and perennials. Layer the boughs over the plants and soil to keep the soil temperature consistent. This reduces the risk of early sprouting and winter damage that can occur during winter thaws.

Christmas Trees in Snow Break Down and Add Nutrients to Soil

Or set the tree in the landscape for a bit of added greenery. Secure it in a snow pile or use stakes and guy wires in milder climates where the soil is not frozen. The birds will also enjoy the added shelter and you will enjoy watching these visitors to your landscape.

Then consider adding a bit of food for your feathered visitors. Decorate the trees with fruits, berries, and seeds the birds can enjoy. Stringing cranberries and popcorn is a fun family activity and makes an attractive outdoor garland. Slices of oranges on colorful yarn and homemade bird ornaments can complete the adornments.

Decorate Christmas Trees with Food for Wildlife

As spring arrives consider chipping and shredding your tree into mulch for trees and shrubs or pathways in the landscape. No chipper? You and your neighbors may want to rent a chipper to shred these and other pruning clippings for use as mulch in your landscapes.

And, if this is not possible, check for recycling resources in your community. Many municipalities have special pickups for Christmas trees. These are chipped, shredded and made available for citizens to use in their landscapes.

Lake communities often sink the discarded trees to the bottom of lakes and ponds to provide habitat for the fish.

And once you discover the value of this free resource you may find yourself collecting a few more from the neighborhood. Though, if your family is like mine, they may ask that you wait until dark to drag your treasures back home.

— Melinda Myers