Christmas tree recycling: what are the options?

Christmas tree recycling - 7 alternative options after 12th night

christmas tree recycling
(Image credit: Squire Garden Centres)

The Christmas tree recycling dilemma is one that many people who've opted for a real tree have after twelfth night (6 January), or even earlier if some London streets are anything to go by. But there are more options than taking it to the local Christmas tree graveyard or sticking it beside the bin and hoping the council will recycle it.

Thankfully, this year, the folks at Squires Garden Centres (opens in new tab) have a few clever ideas about what to do with a Christmas tree once the festivities are over. 

1 SECOND LIFE

Use the tree as a stake – strip off the pine needles and use the trunk as a fantastic frame for flowers or runner beans to grow up.

what to do with a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Alamy)

2 PROTECT PLANTS

Chop off the branches and lay them on top of your flowerbeds to protect them from frost.

what to do with a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Alamy)

3 ANIMAL SHELTER

Create a wildlife habitat - put your tree or branches in the corner of your garden and it will make a great shelter for wildlife from the cold, wind and rain.

what to do with a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Alamy)

4 BIRD FEEDER

Place your tree in a heavy pot in the garden so that it doesn’t tip over, and hang different bird feeders on the branches to attract peckish sparrows and other feathered friends into your garden.

what to do with a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Alamy)

5 FUEL THE FIRE PIT

Chop up the branches, wait for them to dry out, then when the weather gets warmer use as firewood in an outdoor fire pit, it'll smell lovely too. (Don’t use the wood indoors as it can get extremely hot).

Not on the High Street

(Image credit: Not on the High Street)

6 MAKE MULCH

If you have a shredder, cut the branches off the tree then put them in the shredder one by one. Use the mulch around garden trees or shrubs to improve the soil and suppress weeds.

what to do with a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Alamy)

7 REPLANT IT

If your tree is ‘pot grown’ then you can replant it in your garden and bring it in again next year. It'll make a charming annual ritual - and helps both the pocket and the planet. 

what to do with a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Alamy)

8 RECYCLE IT

See what schemes your local council are running. Many will now collect your tree from your road so there’s no need for that trip to the dump.

what to do with a christmas tree

(Image credit: Squire Garden Centres)

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Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites


A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.