Recycling your real Christmas tree – Our top 5 tips!

Recycling your real Christmas tree – Our top 5 tips!

The Christmas season is drawing to an end and you are looking at the once happy Christmas tree that now stands proud but with no presents at its feet. It’s now time to get rid of it and reclaim the space it once occupied. Recycling your real Christmas tree shouldn’t be a chore though!

Here are our top 5 tips for recycling your real Christmas tree.

The Easiest Way to Recycle a Real Christmas Tree

Many people find it very simple to dispose of their real Christmas tree and the truth is, it has never been easier to get rid of a real Christmas tree and know that it is going to be recycled and used again.

Simply break your real Christmas tree down and pop it in your green waste bin for your local council to come and collect it to be recycled. For those of you who are a bit curious about what happens after it is collected... we have that information for you.

Once collected, your real Christmas tree will be taken to a specialised composting site that is often run by a third-party company that buys green waste from your council. It will then be sorted which means that it will be shredded into more bitesize, compostable pieces before being laid out to compost.

These compost piles are known as windrows and they work in similar fashion to a garden compost bin. Once the real Christmas tree has been processed into compost it is then packaged up and sold on, either commercially to the agriculture business or to green-fingered individuals who like nothing better than to grow things in the garden (hopefully more Christmas trees!).

There is a neat circularity to this option as it could mean that this year’s Christmas tree becomes compost to help grow next year’s real Christmas tree.

Compost your tree yourself

Of course, if it is good for the goose then it is good for the gander and you can just as easily break down your real Christmas tree and pop it into your compost bin at home. This will probably take a little longer to compost than the big industrial process that waste management companies use, but the outcome will be lots of lovely fertile compost to lay down in the garden.

Why not compost your real Christmas tree to grow your Halloween pumpkins? Or maybe you want to be more festive than that and use your Christmas tree to grow next year’s Brussels sprouts. Whatever you decide to use it for, you will know you got more than your money’s worth by recycling your Christmas tree at home.

The not-so-green recycling method

For those of you fortunate enough to have a real and operational fireplace, breaking down your real Christmas tree for firewood is a wonderful way to send it off. Perfect for those cold January and February months, real Christmas trees burn very well on the hearth.

You shouldn’t be too optimistic with this approach though as only the branches and trunk will burn well. You will need to de-needle your tree before burning as pine needles are oil rich and give off a lot of smoke when burnt (although they do sizzle and pop in an exciting way).

The best course of action is to de-needle the tree, remove the branches, chop down the trunk into logs and then store in a woodshed to dry out. After a week or so in storage, your logs will be perfect for keeping you warm during the winter months. The needles can be added to your green waste bin or compost bin at home to ensure they are recycled too.

Re-use it 

Many real Christmas tree sites advocate re-planting Christmas trees, however, this is likely not to be possible unless it is a pot-grown tree and has been kept in its pot or re-potted. If the tree has been used as a free-standing tree (outside of a pot) then the chances of breathing new life into it by planting it again are slim to none.

This is because over its use (over the Christmas period) the tree will be going through a dying cycle and although it might make it out at the other end alive (most do) it won’t be healthy. Replanting it might save it but the likelihood is that it will ultimately die.

Potted trees however, have a more positive outlook and can be kept in their original pot for the first 12 months. Beyond that they will have outgrown the pot they’re supplied in and will require a larger pot. Repotting a real Christmas tree does take a little bit of effort but pays off tremendously in the long run. Providing you a real Christmas tree that grows each year and can be used year after year for several years.

There will come a point when your potted tree is either too big to move or too big for the space it normally occupies – don’t fret though as a potted tree that has outgrown its pot can be planted into the ground with a high rate of success

Mulch and wood chippings

If you don’t have any need for additional compost or you don’t want to wait around, converting your real Christmas tree into mulch (breaking it down into little bits) and spreading it around the base of trees and large plants will have a beneficial effect on the trees or plants.

Mulch is primarily used to retain water in the ground and give the plant or tree it surrounds more irrigation. It can also be used decoratively like wood chippings.

If you’re lucky enough to own a woodchipper, a real Christmas tree makes perfect wood chippings. Again, wood chippings can be used to retain water in the ground it is laid on but more often they are used decoratively.

The only downside is that although real Christmas trees make fantastic quality wood-chippings, they don’t necessarily make enough to go around. This is of course dependent on the size of real Christmas tree that you’re recycling into wood chippings!

There you have it, 5 fairly easy and hopefully not too outlandish ways to recycle your real Christmas tree, we hope you have found some inspiration about what you will do with your real Christmas tree or at least know it is going to be treated well if you simply leave it in your green waste bin!

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