Recycling a Christmas Tree

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January 3, 2008

Treecycle logo.Over 33 million real Christmas trees are sold in North America every year, and according to the National Christmas Tree Association, 93% of consumers who use real Christmas trees recycle them using some type of community program. Because the week following the New Year's Day holiday is traditionally the time when most Christmas trees are taken down, here are some post-holiday tips for prolonging your tree's usefulness.


Curbside Pickup & Recycling Programs

Many communities now offer curbside pickup or drop-off sites for Christmas trees after the holidays. In some cases, the trees are run through a chipper and the woodchips are sold as mulch or used on local trails or in community gardens. In other cities, trees are picked up and used by local conservation groups to help prevent beach erosion or stabilize shorelines along local rivers and lakes.

Examples of how Christmas trees are being recycled:

(Source: National Christmas Tree Association) The number of tree recycling programs continues to grow each year, but unfortunately, many trees still end up in landfills. For information on Christmas tree recycling programs in your area, contact your public works department, local Christmas tree farm or visit and type in your zip code.


Backyard Birds

Turn your post-holiday tree into a winter sanctuary for backyard birds. Adorn the branches with seed and suet feeders, dried fruits, and peanut butter-coated pinecones rolled in birdseed to make a cozy winter birdfeeder. Prop up your tree by "planting" it into a snow bank or wiring it to a light post or nearby tree.

Perennial Protection

Another great way to re-use your Christmas tree is to use the boughs as winter mulch to protect your perennials. Remove the boughs from the tree and layer them loosely over plants so they trap the snow, or simply lay the entire tree on its side next to the plants. Acid-loving plants like rhododendrons and azaleas will appreciate the extra springtime boost they get from dropped needles.

Wind Breaks

Layer tree branches over the vegetable garden or exposed flower beds to help prevent soil erosion caused by harsh winter winds. Ask your neighbors for their trees. Place them upright in snow banks along your driveway or sidewalk to create a temporary seasonal windbreak.

Ready-Made Mulch

In the spring, grind your tree down and you'll have ready-made mulch for your garden beds and walking paths, or add some woodchips to your compost pile.

Fish Habitat

If you have a backyard pond or own lakeshore property, consider using your tree to provide some fish-friendly habitat. Submerged trees provide fish with safe, natural cover for feeding and spawning.

Preparing Your Tree for Recycling:

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January 19, 2010

We removed our Christmas tree from our house. We were going to take it to recycle. When we went to put it outside, my husband said, "Let's put it standing up next to bird feeder for a place for birds to hang out."


December 1, 2010

For easy removal of your Christmas tree, with a sheet on the rug to catch the needles, clip off the branches at their base with a sharp garden tool and put them in a garbage bag.


November 16, 2016

This is a page about recycling your Christmas tree for the garden. Instead of trashing your holiday tree, it can be useful for a number of things in your yard and garden.

A Christmas tree ready to be recycled.

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