7 Alternatives to Tossing Out Your Christmas Tree

Christmas tree pine needles swept with broken ornaments
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With the start of the new year comes a long-standing problem for many people: What should you do with a Christmas tree that is now drying up and shedding needles all over the floor?

For years, people have thrown their trees in the trash. But in our more environmentally conscious age, many are looking for “green” alternatives to simply disposing of used greenery.

Consider the following ways to give your Christmas tree life that goes far beyond the holiday season.

1. Recycle

Recycle Christmas tree
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Don’t just throw your old tree in the trash. Instead, give it new life through recycling, which usually means turning it into mulch.

Michigan State University says Christmas trees are biodegradable, and can be reused or recycled.

A curbside recycling pickup may be an option in your area, although there are often requirements, such as for tree size and decoration removal.

Taking your tree to a recycling center is another great option, especially if your community doesn’t take trees. Check to see if your area has a drop-off location.

2. Use for firewood

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Turning a Christmas tree into firewood means it can continue to keep spirits bright long after the holidays are over.

However, experts warn against burning all or part of your old tree in an indoor fireplace or wood stove. A harmful chemical called creosote in trees can build up and cause fires to become very hot, sending sparks that can become a fire hazard.

However, it’s fine to use your trees as kindling for an outdoor fire pit. Nothing says winter like gathering with family and friends around a campfire. Just make sure the wood is dry before burning it. Also, don’t forget to throw away the remaining tinsel and ornaments.

3. Mulch

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Your old Christmas tree branches are a great source of DIY mulch for your garden. Use them for this purpose, and you’ll save yourself a trip to the store — not to mention all the money you spent buying bags of mulch.

You don’t even need fancy equipment to get the job done. Simply uproot and trim the little branches with the most appropriate tool you happen to have on hand, and spread the pieces all over your lawn.

When the needles drop, they will help your soil retain moisture.

4. Make compost

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Use your old Christmas tree to supplement your garden soil. According to home tip website The Spruce, a thin layer of branches — such as trees — are the best base for a new compost pile:

“This allows a bit of airflow at the bottom of the pile, and the branches will break down over time. Just cut them to fit in your bin, then stack them four to six inches high. Once you’ve got that in, go ahead and start adding kitchen scraps and other compostable materials as you normally would.

5. Change to path edge

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No need for compost? Not a problem. Instead, cut your old tree trunks into 2-inch discs and use them to line your flower beds and walkways. You can also use a small branch as a fringe if you wish.

In addition to adding visual interest to your landscaping, your yard will smell like Christmas.

6. Use it to protect your perennials

Cedar mulch
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Your old Christmas tree can help save the lives of other plants in your garden.

Simply place branches in the ground beneath perennials to help protect them from future frosts. According to Good Gardening:

“Pine boughs or branches cut from Christmas trees … make excellent, airy mulch for young evergreens or perennials because they help mitigate temperature swings and offer protection from winter winds and sun.”

7. Return to seller

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When all else fails, you may be able to return your tree to the seller. Some large tree plantations will actually take the tree back after Christmas. Contact the place where you purchased your tree to inquire about pickup and delivery options.

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