5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Christmas Tree Out of the Dumpster

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Christmas Tree Out of the Dumpster

The holiday season has come to a close and if you had a real Christmas tree this year, you’re probably already thinking about getting rid of it.

While you can opt to haul the tree out of your home, shedding countless pine needles that you’ll be cleaning up for months to come, there are a number of ways you can give that old tree a new purpose. After all, they’re not only biodegradable but also reusable — perfect for upcycling.

Here’s how to keep your Christmas tree from going to waste. | iStock

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Christmas Tree Out of the Dumpster

Old trees and dry needles can be a fire hazard, so it’s always best to remove lights and decorations as soon as possible. But rather than throw it away, here are five ways to reuse or recycle your Christmas tree.

Use It for Mulch or Compost

Don’t throw that tree away – if you happen to have a wood chipper and some patience, you can use it for mulch or compost. All you need to do is wait until your Christmas tree has dried up, then you can grind it up in your wood chipper. After that, spread the wood chips wherever you need covering. According to Gardening Know How, mulch has a multitude of benefits, including helping soil retain moisture, improving soil health, and protecting your soil from winter injury, erosion, and weeds. Pinewood chips can even help keep pests like ticks and fleas at bay.

If you don’t have a wood chipper, don’t worry – you can add smaller branches and pine needles (not the trunk) to your compost pile.


That old Christmas tree can be upcycled into firewood, too. Once your tree is dried – it should take a few months – and free from decorations, remove the branches with a sharp hatchet and then chop up the trunk. An average tree trunk should be good to fuel about one or two fires.

Donate to Local Conservation Groups

Your Christmas tree can help your community. Some local game and fishery departments will accept drop-off tree donations. They will then be used to benefit ecosystems in lakes and ponds. Old pine trees provide a natural habitat for fish, attracting algae for them to eat. If you have a private pond in your back yard, you can even place it there yourself.

Your local conservation group may also run a recycling program where trees are used to prevent soil and sand erosion in beaches, rivers, and lakes. San Diego County’s Christmas Tree Recycling Program, for example, has been running for 45 years.

Brew Tea and Beer or Make Simple Syrup

If you’re feeling adventurous, or if you really love Starbucks’ seasonal juniper latte, you can use those old pine needles to brew tea or beer. According to The Manual, you can make Christmas tree tea with fresh pine needles and a ratio of one part pine needle to five parts black tea. If you want to make pine-infused beer, steep your grains with a handful of fresh needles.

You can also make a simple syrup for lattes and alcoholic beverages by boiling fresh needles with sugar, water, or lemon juice.

Upcycle Your Christmas Tree

There are a lot of creative ways that you can upcycle a pine tree. If you have access to a miter saw and eco-friendly wood finish, you can cut up the trunk to make rustic coasters. You can also remove the pine needles to make fragrance sachets to store in your closet or dresser. Old Christmas tree branches can also be used to decorate your home like a winter woodland.