Christmas is almost here, and the day after (or perhaps by New Years) you start to wonder what to do with your tree. You certainly don’t want to throw it away. Knowing that 77 million Christmas trees are planted each year, only to be tossed out a few weeks later, makes me cringe.  Trees are biodegradable and serve many functions in nature.  So before you throw it to the curb, try some of these fun and easy ways to repurpose your tree.

  1. Chip it and use it to make mulch. In a year of drought this is especially important to regulate soil temperature and prevent water loss. Mulch can be used around trees and plants, and can even help keep weeds at bay.
  2. Use the branches to make a bird feeder in the yard. Coat the branches in margarine or peanut butter and roll them in bird seed.
  3. Use pine boughs to cover your garden for the winter season and enjoy the results of your harvest in the spring.
  4. Use your tree to create a fish habitat. Place cut up Christmas tree pieces in the bottom of your pond to give fish a place to hide. Make sure your tree has not been chemically treated and is free of decorations.
  5. Local resource conservation groups will use your Christmas tree to stop soil and sand erosion along beaches, rivers and lakes. The trees and branches collect sand and prevent it from being washed away. You can contact your local resource department or beach restoration group to find out if they have a need for this. Find out about San Diego County’s Christmas Tree Recycling Program that has turned more than 940 tons of Christmas trees into valuable mulch for community residents and in county beautification projects.
  6. Use the branches to make wreaths and garlands. Add scented pinecones and decor to enjoy year round.
  7. Cut the top two feet of your tree and place it on your property to make a habitat and playground for squirrels, birds and rabbits. Drill some holes and fill it with seeds to attract them even faster.
  8. Use the pine needles to make wonderfully fragrant sachets. Use them yourself or give them as a gift.
  9. Once your tree is completely dry and free of chemicals and decorations, you can cut it up to use as a fire starter.
  10. Cut the trunk into small round pieces and use them as an edge for your garden.
  11. You can also cut, sand and use the tree cookies as stylish coasters in your home.
  12. A Christmas tree with most of the branches cut off can be used in your garden for tree stakes or trellis. This provides a more natural look.
  13. Make a cat tree by covering the trunk and larger branches with carpet pieces or fabric. Anchor it down, add some rope and you’ve got a cat playground.
  14. Donate your tree to a local nonprofit. Of course I would be remiss to mention that every year the local Boy Scouts collect your trees from the curb as a fundraiser. A nice and convenient way if you just want to get rid of it. By the way, make sure to tip them, it’s how they raise money for the year.
  15. Alternatively, you can buy a rooted tree next year and plant it in your yard when the season is over.

To learn more about how communities around the country are using Christmas trees in restoration projects, click here. Have fun and remember trees are one of our most renewable resources.