Real Christmas trees represent Christmas in a way that artificial trees don’t. The sight and scent they bring to the home creates wonderful festive feelings and memories to last a lifetime, not to mention the boost to our moods real trees and plants bring us. While real Christmas trees are wonderful things, they tend to be used only once during the festivities and then disposed of, even if they are ‘cut trees’ or ‘pot grown trees’.
But there is still plenty of magic left in them once Christmas has passed not to mention the positive environmental impact. According to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association more than seven million real Christmas trees are sold annually. Most of these end up in landfills which is costly to us taxpayers – according to the government £22 million each year all these trees go to landfill – and to the environment. With just a little effort they can be reused in a variety of ways to benefit how our taxes are spent, our gardens, and our overall environment.
Depending on whether the Christmas tree you opt for is cut, in other words sawn from its roots, or is pot grown which means the roots are still there, then some of the ways to reuse the trees become a little clearer. Read on to find out some different ways to reuse your real cut or pot grown Christmas trees in the garden.
Make it into Bark Mulch
Putting the Christmas tree through a chipper to make a bark mulch is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint over going to landfill. Not only that, but you will also turn it into a useful organic material you can use in the garden around the base of other trees or shrubs. Bark mulching is great because it will protect the top layer of soil keeping heat in the plant roots over the colder months. It will also decompose slowly which enriches the soil with nutrients over time. This can be done with cut and pot grown trees but probably more suited to cut tees which will inevitably die anyway. Whereas a pot grown tree can be kept or planted in the garden.
Make a Pine Needle Mulch
The pine needles of the tree can also be used as a mulch on acid loving plants. You can keep the tree until they fall off of their own accord. Then, gather them up and spread around the base of any trees, shrubs and fruiting plants that particularly love acidic conditions and ericaceous compost. Some examples include magnolias, azaleas, and blueberries. Again, this is probably more suited to cut Christmas trees since they will inevitably die off, but you can also gather these from pot grown trees too.
Turn it all into Compost
Another way you can use cut or pot grown Christmas trees is as a source of nutrients for the garden by turning it all into compost. This is easily achieved through time and the right conditions. You would chop the tree up to suit the size of your compost bin or pile, though smaller pieces are better, and then all you need to do is the usual waiting. Another tip, use only a small amount of the needles from the tree (only up to about 10% of the overall heap), and be sure to dig them right in to the entire heap if possible. They can take quite a while longer to break down fully than the wood will, so by digging them in you avoid clumping densely together, which can then reduce airflow to the heap.
Use it to Protect Tender Plants
Larger branches can be taken and used as a layer over tender plants to provide an extra layer of protection from frosts which can kill them, and snowfall which can crush them if particularly heavy. This probably suits cut Christmas trees more.
Create a Birdfeeder
Winter can be tough for birds who have to cope with weather and scarcity of food. So, why not leave the tree whole and use it as a birdfeeder/habitat for birds over the winter months? Simply, prop it up somewhere, tie some cranberry and oranges, some other berries too, even hang a bird feeder packed with seeds, something like a fat ball too. Before long you’ll see you have attracted some robins, finches, and tits among others to the garden! This is a great idea for both cut and pot grown Christmas trees, just keep in mind that the cut tree will lose all of its pines and start to die off.
Create a Shelter for Other Wildlife
Another great idea to help wildlife in the garden is to chop it up and create a shelter for them. This can be as easy as breaking branches, chopping or sawing the tree into smaller bits, then stacking these pieces up in a small pile somewhere in the garden which will attract lots of beneficial insects and perhaps some small mammals. This naturally suits the cut trees, which will drop all their pines in time, then you can easily cut the dead wood into a pile to use as the shelter.
Save the Tree to Use Next Year
If the tree is pot grown, then you can save the tree for next year! It will take a bit of care in the warmer months, especially with watering, but you won’t have to do too much, and it’ll be ready for use the following Christmas. Alternatively, you have the option to plant the tree in the ground to use as an outdoor Christmas tree which will look just beautiful with a tinge of frost and after a snowfall.
Recycle It Elsewhere
OK, recycling does apply to all of the points, but specifically you could also give it away for someone else to recycle it for use in their own garden. For example, your local council, a local nature reserve, or perhaps even a garden centre will take it off your hands at the end of the festive season. Many local councils will have a green waste scheme and will take it away free of charge.
Try Reusing Your Christmas Tree This Year
So there you are, we hope we’ve helped you to see there are many ways to reuse a real Christmas tree. Some methods are more suited to cut Christmas trees, and others to pot grown which still has its roots. Not only are they all relatively easy and simple to do, but they are also all beneficial in some way to your garden, whether you do it yourself by mulching, or giving away for someone else to make use of it. The worst thing we can do is simply let them go to landfill so why don’t you make 2022 the year you try reusing your Christmas tree?