7 Ways to Dispose of an Old Christmas Tree

There are many ways to put an old tree to good use.

old Christmas tree set out next to garbage cans for collection

Photo by Joel Sharpe / Getty Images

If you purchased a real Christmas tree this holiday season, then you'll have to figure out what to do with it eventually. Your town may have curbside pickup, but if not, you'll have to get creative with how to make that tree disappear. Assuming your tree is free from sprays, paint, and tinsel, here are some suggestions.

1. Make Mulch

You probably don't have a woodchipper on hand, but some municipalities solicit donated Christmas trees to make mulch for city parks. The New York City of Sanitation, for example, received 50,000 trees from the 2019 Christmas season! People who bring their trees to NYC's Mulchfest locations can take home mulch for their garden or use it on their nearby street trees; the rest is used across the city's parks.

2. Use the Greenery

If the evergreen branches are in good condition, use them to make a winter wreath or garland, or to fill out urns and window boxes. They can also be used to edge garden beds, or you can shake the branches into your garden beds to dislodge the needles and provide mulch.

3. Use the Tree for Craft Projects

You can slice the trunk into thin rounds, dry and seal them, and use as coasters. A length of trunk can be drilled out to make a rustic bird feeder. You can make these cute log stump men, as suggested by Empress of Dirt. Just search for repurposed wood crafts on Pinterest and you'll find a million ideas.

4. Decorate the Tree Again – For the Birds

This postpones having to deal with the tree, but it has the benefits of drying out the tree during the winter while providing food and shelter to wildlife in your yard. You can enjoy its beauty longer (without having to vacuum up pine needles) and turn it into firewood later. This article in Wilder Child explains how you can make suet cakes, birdseed feeders, and dried fruit slices and hang them on a tree.

5. Contact a Wildlife Conservation Center

Sometimes these centers accept old Christmas trees as toys for the animals housed in their facilities. For example, Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia, had a "bring a tree, get in free" day last year, when it collected trees as "entertainment and enrichment for the large animals, like tigers, lions, elephants and rhinos." So did another center in Scottsdale, AZ. It's worth a phone call if you don't see anything advertised.

6. Sink it in a Pond

We've written about this before on TreeHugger, how old trees can be dumped into ponds to provide habitats for fish. Some districts collect trees for this purpose, but if you have access to a pond on your own property or a lake nearby, why not give it a try?

7. Fight Beach Erosion

If you live along the East Coast near sand dunes, see if a local organization can use your old tree to help fight erosion. In Fort Macon State Park, North Carolina, "Christmas trees have been used to repair damage to sand dunes caused by foot traffic and strong winds and to prevent the natural material from going into landfills." When hurricanes hit, the trees "catch the sand as the wind blows it down the beach [and] work better than a sand fence" (via Coastal Review).