How to Repurpose Your Dried-Out Christmas Tree

How to Repurpose Your Dried-Out Christmas Tree
Photo: ttomasek15, Shutterstock

This was a year of many “firsts,” as it seems an isolating pandemic has a way of spurring us on to try new things, to find little glimpses of joy wherever we can. (Remember all that bread we baked in March?) For many families, being stuck at home for the holidays was the perfect excuse to finally buy a real tree to decorate. But now, as the year mercifully comes to a close, you may be wondering what to do with an evergreen that is turning everbrown.

Of course, you could simply dispose of it, per your city’s removal or recycling guidelines. But old, dried-up Christmas trees actually have more uses than you might imagine.

When Should I Take Down My Christmas Tree?

I once kept my tree up until March just to hold on to the festivity of the season — I know, I know. I’m the first to admit that that was a terrible idea. But when is the best time to take down your tree?

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Mulch it

The most common advice you’ll find for repurposing your Christmas tree is to turn it into mulch. All of the tree’s pieces and parts are good for gardens, as Jonathon Engels writes for One Green Planet:

Pine needles make fantastic mulch for plant beds, so those can be collected and spread around. Limbs and trunks can be sliced up and thrown into rougher garden areas to rot down over the coming year, which means they are naturally feeding the soil as opposed to becoming contaminated in landfills. If the neighbours are interested in splitting the cost, a rented wood chipper could make a lot of mulch out of the whole neighbourhood’s trees, or there are often tree-cycling set-ups near recycling centres.

Engels also suggests slicing up the trunk into disks to create a natural garden border.

“Plant” it

Unless you bought a tree with its root ball still intact, you can’t actually replant it. I mean, you can, but it’s still going to be dead. However, you can set it outside in its stand to act as a bird sanctuary. Hang bird feeders from its branches or drape it with pinecones coated in peanut butter to give your neighbourhood birds a new favourite hang-out spot.

You could also give a few branches to your family’s fish, according to Amy Johnson at

In the wild, many branches fall into ponds and lakes, offering protection to the fish in the water. You can put the smaller branches into the tank to give your fish a place to hide and relax. Make sure the branches are fully clean before you put them in the tank.

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