What should you do with your leftover Christmas tree?

What Should You Do With Your Leftover Christmas Tree? What Should You Do With Your Leftover Christmas Tree?
Its dried old branches may still have some life in them
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By Sam Wylie-Harris, PA

The tree has been the star of the show since the start of the festive season. Its fresh, woody fragrance and twinkling branches have filled you with utmost joy – but the time will come to gift something back to the soil as a little thank you.

“When the time comes to bid farewell to your Christmas tree, there are plenty of ‘green’ ways to dispose of it,” says Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the RHS.

“Potted trees can simply be replanted outside until it’s needed the following year, but even cut trees can be reused to minimise waste. For example, shredding Christmas trees can create useful mulch for the garden, while chopping up the trunk to create a woodpile helps support insects, birds and other wildlife,” explains Barter.


Indeed, if you’ve bought a Christmas tree with roots, and have the space, it can be planted in the garden and you can continue to enjoy it outside for years to come.

Dr Anton Rosenfeld, knowledge officer of horticultural charity Garden Organic, says: “Plant the tree in a hole at a depth just covering the root ball, when the ground isn’t frozen. Alternatively, buy a more compact variety that can continue to be grown in a pot, and then it can be used as a Christmas tree next year.”

As far as shredding your tree goes, as well as being a great mulch for flower beds and vegetable gardens, Rosenfeld says it can be used as ‘brown’ addition to your compost bin: “A garden shredder helps, but if you don’t have one you can still put any branches up to a finger’s width into your compost bin, if they’re chopped up with secateurs and mixed with plenty of green materials.

“It takes a while to compost,” notes Rosenfeld. “But the quality of the material produced is very good.”

Most importantly, as Eden Jackson of The Wildlife Trusts puts it: “When it comes to your tree, try to make sure it doesn’t end up in landfill.


“There are plenty of ways to dispose of them after the season’s over. Find out if there’s a charity or council recycling scheme near you – some trees end up as woodchips for local parks – or cut it up and put it in a green waste bin,” suggests Jackson.

“Or why not use your old tree as a festive wildlife hideaway for minibeasts? You can use the branches and chopped-up trunk, bound together and placed somewhere in your garden. It can be a great way to attract wildlife. The spaces made by piling the sticks and branches together are perfect spots for invertebrates to shelter.”

Alternatively, think about renting a Christmas tree next year.

“These trees are often grown by local nurseries from seed and potted on each year, so you have a real living tree delivered in a pot,” says Jackson. “They can often be used 10 times or more before they become too big, after which they’re planted and grown to be used as large ‘village green’ Christmas trees.”

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