7 Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree - Backyard Boss
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7 Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree

As the holiday season winds down, you may still be debating when to take down your tree and how to dispose of it. Whatever you decide, avoid throwing a live Christmas tree in the landfill. Real Christmas trees are biodegradable, meaning there are several sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternatives for disposal. 

Before you take down your Christmas tree, check out these seven ways to dispose of it and discover additional tips to make your cleanup easier!

1. Curb Side Pick Up and Drop Off

live christmas tree at curb
Image credits: photocritical via Shutterstock

One of the easiest ways to dispose of your live Christmas tree is to take advantage of your local city collection service. Many cities set specific dates for pick-up, and all you have to do is bring your tree to the curb by the designated time. Be sure to remove all bulbs and tinsel, as many cities run the trees through shredders and use them for mulch the following spring.

If you miss the pick-up date, or your city doesn’t offer curbside pick-up, there may be drop-off locations. These drop-off depots are often temporary, so check the cut-off date. They are usually open well into the new year, giving you lots of time to enjoy your tree. 

2. Donate Your Tree

natural resources center
Image credits: Tada Images via Shutterstock

As an alternative to your city collection services, many wildlife preservations and rehabilitation organizations accept donations of live Christmas trees. Check your local area for an establishment that offers pick-up or drop-off options.

Wildlife and rescue organizations commonly use Christmas trees to help prevent erosion and as a habitat for wildlife. Rabbits and other small animals use trees for shelter, especially in winter. 

3. Leave It in Your Yard for Wildlife

woodpecker perched in a pine tree
Image credit: Bugulma via Pixabay

If you are looking for an environmentally-friendly way to use your Christmas tree in your backyard, consider leaving it for wildlife. If you have a live potted tree, place it in a sheltered location outside to plant in the spring. Lean or lay your tree in your backyard and let the birds and squirrels go nuts.

You can also take it up a notch by securing the tree upright in the snow or with wooden support. Dip the branches in peanut butter, and make a stunning wildlife feeder that will draw all the animals to your yard.

4. Chop It Up and Use It as Firewood

Wood Burning on a Fire Pit during Winter
Image credit: Ayça Aras via Pexels

Another option for disposing of your Christmas tree is to chop it up and use it as firewood. Evergreens are excellent for bonfires, providing a hot and spectacular flame. However, allow the tree to dry out first and only burn the wood outdoors. The sap is flammable, and the creosote buildup is a fire hazard for indoor fireplaces and woodstoves.

Leave your tree outdoors or in the garage for a few months to dry out, and chop it up before burning. The dried needles make great kindling, or you can throw them in the compost.

After the fire has cooled, you can use the wood ash in your garden or compost, which is an excellent additive. Wood ash contains lime, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It does have a slightly alkaline effect on the soil, so it is not great for acid-loving plants such as blueberries.

5. Compost

Image credit: Edward Howell via Unsplash

In addition to being biodegradable, Christmas trees are also compostable. Once they have outlived their purpose in your home or yard, they make excellent and nutrient-rich compost. As an alternative to backyard composting, you can also dispose of your Christmas tree in your green cart.

Before you place your tree in your compost or green cart, chop it into small pieces. If you have access to a wood chipper, this is an excellent way to process your tree before composting.

6. Use It for Mushroom Cultivation

mushrooms growing on tree
Image credits: hiroyuki_nakai via Shutterstock

Have you always wanted to grow edible mushrooms in your backyard? It could be your year! Simply remove the branches, and you have yourself a mushroom log. Place the trunk in a garage or a sheltered location for a few weeks to partially dry out, and it’s ready for inoculation.

Purchase a spore that is compatible with the type of tree you have. Since hardwood is a more common growing medium for mushrooms, shop around before you decide. Oyster mushrooms, chicken of the woods, and cauliflower mushrooms thrive on conifer and pine.

Once you have your spores, you can drill holes, insert the “plug spawns”, seal the holes with wax, and by the following fall or spring, you may have mushrooms to harvest! 

Store the inoculated log in a garage before placing it in a shady location outdoors in the spring. Alternatively, you can wait until the spring to inoculate your log but store it in a sheltered location to reduce excessive moisture loss.

7. Use It for Gardening

wooden fence around garden with watering can
Image credit: RitaE via Pixabay

For an environmentally-friendly option, consider using your Christmas tree in the garden. The price of wood is rising, and there’s no reason to waste the hard-earned money you spent on your Christmas tree.

Evergreen branches and trunks can provide insulation and protection for your less-hardy perennial plants over winter. The falling needles also provide excellent nutrients for acid-loving plants such as azaleas and hydrangeas. In the spring, you can also use the trunk for garden borders or to build a vertical garden.

Take It to the Curb

There are many options for disposing of your real Christmas tree, so be sure to put on your creativity cap. When you take down your tree, take a few precautions to make the needle cleanup easier. Lay a tarp or plastic sheet under your tree and wrap the tree when transporting it out of your house or in your vehicle. Remove the wrap when you place it at the curb or drop it at a depot. In addition, when you clean up the needles, it’s best to use a broom, as the needles can clog some vacuums.

How do you like to dispose of your real Christmas tree? Share in the comments!