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Making the most out of your old Christmas tree

Across the United Kingdom, some 8 million real Christmas trees are purchased over the festive period. Sadly, the love and care to which decorations are applied, is not always replicated once the time has come to dispose of the tree at the end of the festive season.

The Local Government Association (LGA) estimates that it costs the taxpayer nearly £100 for every 40 Christmas trees sent to landfill.

As well as this, sadly, time and time again we see reports of trees being dumped in the street or slung by the side of the road, causing a blight in the countryside and in neighbourhoods up & down the country.

We have put together a list of ways to recycle your unwanted Christmas trees.

Sarah Lee of the Countryside Alliance said " It's often a bit gloomy having to part ways with your Christmas tree, but there are so many beneficial and environmentally friendly options available that make the experience much more positive. Gone should be the days of seeing Christmas trees left out in the street or dumped in the countryside, causing a blight up and down the country."

Replant your tree

Simply replanting your tree, once no longer needed inside, is a great way of positively contributing to the environment. Think of the impact millions of replanted trees would make! Adding a birdhouse or feeder would also be a bonus for local wildlife.


If you have the space, find a spot that won't expose the tree to too much wind, but that which leaves it open to sunlight. It's worth pointing out that if the tree has been inside for too long (various online guides reference between 10-14 days) and has been close to strong heat sources like radiators, they won't grow. Keeping the earth ball well moistured while its inside is also incredibly useful for a successful replanting operation. If these conditions have been met, the next steps are:

Dig a hole wide enough to fit the tree in and then some. By that, we mean enough room for at least two, wide.

Place the tree into the hole, removing any coverings to the root ball. Then place the excavated soil back into the hole, covering each layer. Then add some mulch (see below for what that is) and cover the tree with a suitable shield. Keep it watered, regularly, all year round. Let it grow!

We appreciate that this option isn't always doable. Space being a key factor, as Christmas trees can really grow. There are several other options.

You could, of course, take the tree outside and re-use it again next year. Thankfully Christmas trees are generally hassle free. You will need to keep the tree potted (leaving enough room for it to grow either side), watered all year round and protected.

Other options

Make some mulch

Old Christmas trees can be used to make mulch. Mulch is a material that can be used to spread around or over a plant to insulate or enrich the surrounding soil. To make it, you will need a shredder. Ensure you follow the appropriate guidelines when using it and use the necessary safety equipment such as eye protectors and gloves. The lower end of the trunk may be too thick to put through the shredder. The trunk could be cut up and dried out before adding to a controlled, open fire in a pit or wood burner.


Christmas trees can be used for compost, though the needles are rubbery which means they'll take longer to break down. Cutting the tree up first will help the process along. See below for what to do with the needles.


Feeling adventurous? Need a new door stop or perhaps Christmas decorations for next year? Take a look at some of these DIY, easy designs on Pinterest.

What about the pine needles?

While the needles are a bit of a nuisance when wanting to produce mulch or compost, there are several other recyclable options for them. Reader's Digest lists using needles for preventing the spread of weeds in the garden, as well as combining them with vinegar to make a natural, DIY cleaner.

Pine needles can also be used to treat smelly feet.. simply add them to a bucket of warm water and soak feet inside the bucket for 10-15 minutes. Apparently, it does wonders.

If none of these options are for you, then the following are also useful

Local garden centre

Local garden centres can chip the tree down for you, which can they can then use for mulch or compost. Make sure you contact the local garden centre in advance, before dropping the tree off to save wasting a journey.

Charity collection

There are charities that will collect and recycle your tree for you, for a donation. One of these is the Treetops Christmas recycling scheme. According to its website, volunteers will collect your unwanted tree from outside your home. They are operating between Monday January 6th 2020 through to Friday January 10th 2020. Another website which could be helpful is the Registration finishes on Sunday, January 5th 2020 at midday.

Other recycle options

The Recycle Now locator, via its website, is a really handy tool for locating the details of your local authority, along with their recycle policies.

Do you live in London? ITV have created this helpful Borough-by-Borough guide, which details the recyclable option across the capital.

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