What to do with a Christmas tree after Christmas: 9 clever uses for your tree

When the holidays are over, you might be wondering what to do with a Christmas tree after Christmas. Well wonder no more...

what to do with a Christmas tree after Christmas - potted christmas tree on an outdoor bench with cushions and other festive items
(Image credit: Future)

After the last mince pie has been eaten and present unwrapped, you might be wondering what to do with a Christmas tree after Christmas. Whether this is ensuring that you don't break any local area regulations or finding a new use for your tree in the garden, there are plenty of ideas for how to dispose of your festive tree. 

No matter what type of Christmas tree you chose this year and how well you looked after it, there comes a time when you need to take it down and remove it from inside your home. But the good news is there are lots of different things you can do with your leftover tree.

From creating a natural bird feeder to protecting your flowerbeds with the tree branches, there are plenty of creative uses for your Christmas tree post-December.

9 clever solutions for what to do with a Christmas tree after Christmas

Simply dumping your tree or putting it out with the rest of your trash means that it may end up on landfill. And there are lots of crafty ideas of what to with a Christmas tree after Christmas in ways that can benefit wildlife and your garden.

According to the Gov.UK website from a 2020 statistic: 'If not reused or recycled, trees can end up in landfill which is costly to both the environment and the taxpayer, with the cost of landfilling eight million trees being around £22 million.' So always be sure to reuse or recycle.

Together with Squire's Garden Centres, we've rounded up some brilliant options for what to do with a Christmas tree after Christmas. 

1. Recycle it

Curbside Christmas tree disposal

(Image credit: MShieldsPhotos / Alamy Stock Photo)

Now this is a preferable, more eco and socially responsible option for what to do with a Christmas tree after Christmas than simply tossing yours out on the trash heap. It's important that you check your local regulations on how they deal with Christmas tree disposal. Whether that be special pick ups or designated drop off points.

In the UK, some councils will allow you to cut yours into pieces and place in your standard garden waste bin. 

There are charities and other organisations which will pick up your tree for a charitable donation. Some of these trees will be mulched and given new life as chippings for garden paths or mulch for soil. 

2. Turn it into mulch 

christmas tree ready to be recycled

(Image credit: Squires Garden Centres)

If you have one of the best garden shredders, turning your old tree into mulch to use around your garden is a great idea. 

Simply cut the branches off the tree and put them in the shredder one by one. Then scatter the shredded material, mulching around trees and shrubs to improve the soil and suppress weeds. 

According to resident Amateur Gardening expert Ruth Hayes: 'Pine needles also make a great acidic mulch for lime-hating plants including rhododendrons, azaleas and blueberry bushes.'

3. Repot it

potted christmas tree in Christmas scene outdoors

(Image credit: Future)

If you are lucky enough to have purchased a Christmas tree in a pot or one with its roots still attached, plant it up outside. Look after it and you can use it again next December.

Carefully cut away the plastic pot or, if the tree is in a more solid container, stand the whole thing in water to loosen the roots. Amateur Gardening's Ruth Hayes says: 'Tease out any roots that are constricted or circling the rootball to make it easier for the plant to take up nutrients and water.

Plant it at the same depth as the rootball, using John Innes No2 or No3 compost with added grit for improved drainage. Water the tree well while it gets established and add a layer of mulch to suppress weeds and feed the roots.'

This way your Christmas tree can be brought inside next year to be used again. If you didn't go for a pot grown variety this year you could try to grow your own Christmas tree for next year.

4. Use on a fire pit 

fire pit lit with high flames in a garden with luscious green lawn

(Image credit: FirepitsUK)

This last year has seen a boom in many households revamping their outdoor space with the best fire pits and BBQs for socially distanced get-togethers and winter garden parties. 

Make use of your old Christmas tree and any natural Christmas wreath ideas by cutting them up and storing them somewhere dry, ready to use as firewood in the new year. 

5. Protect flowerbeds with the branches

close up of Christmas tree branches

(Image credit: Squires Garden Centres)

Want to know how to protect your plants from frost? Well, have you ever thought of using your Christmas tree to help? 

One of the easiest options for what to do with a Christmas tree after Christmas is to use the branches to protect your flowerbeds from the worst of the winter weather in January. Strip the branches from the trunk and lay them on top of your flowerbeds to protect them from frost. 

You may have already clipped some branches off earlier in the season to use as a DIY Christmas decorations so these could also be added to your flowerbeds as frost protection too. 

6. Use the tree as a stake

Cleaning after Christmas. Cutting the branches of a live Christmas tree using pruning shears.

(Image credit: Tomasz Majchrowicz / Alamy Stock Photo)

Save yourself some money in the new year by turning your Christmas tree into a climbing plant support idea for flowers or runner beans. 

Simply strip off the pine needles and some of the smaller branches to create a fantastic frame ready to be used in your raised garden beds or vegetable garden.

7. Make a bird feeder

blue tit on the branch of a spruce tree

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

This is one of the easiest ways to recycle your Christmas tree, and the birds will thank you for it. 

Simply remove any of the most unsightly brown branches and position the tree in a heavy pot, making sure it isn’t going to tip over. Then hang a few of the best bird feeders on the branches for an easy way to keep garden birds fed over winter. 

8. Use the branches in a bug hotel

Large insect hotel made of pallets, perforated stones and many natural materials

(Image credit: mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

Want to know how to make a bug hotel to attract more insects and pollinators to your plot next year? The branches of your Christmas tree will make an ideal habitat for bugs and insects so make sure you include this in your plans. 

If you haven't the space or the inclination to leave your tree in a a corner of your garden, then a neater and more compact option is to chop it into pieces and make it part of your new bug hotel.

9. Add it to the compost heap

Christmas tree and other Christmas waste being added to the compost heap

(Image credit: Future)

Rather than relying on a collection or drop off service, it's worth composting your tree at home if possible. 'Decorations made out of greenery can also be composted, but remember to remove any wire fastenings first,' says Ruth Hayes

But what about other festive waste? 'Non-metallic wrapping paper can be added to the recycling paper bin along with cards and cardboard, but you can also shred it and add it to the compost heap,' says Ruth. 'Don’t overload the pile with paper waste, and make sure everything is thoroughly forked together.'

How do I get rid of my Christmas tree after Christmas?

However you choose to dispose of your tree it's important that you follow local guidelines. Check your council's website for any designated tree drop off points or collection services. Making use of these services will mean your tree is recycled properly.

Alternatively it's possible to compost it down yourself in your own compost bin if you have one.

Teresa Conway
Deputy Editor

Teresa has worked as an Editor on a number of gardening magazines for three years now. So she is lucky enough to see and write about gardening across all sizes, budgets and abilities. She recently moved into her first home and the garden is a real project! Currently she is relishing planning her own design and planting schemes. What she is most passionate about when it comes to gardening are the positive effects it has on our mental health to grow and care for plants, as well as being great for the environment too and help provide food and shelter for wildlife.