After the holidays, real Christmas trees can be easily reused or recycled. So before you toss it to the curb, check out these ideas for how to extend the life of your tree.

Drop it off at a local Christmas tree recycling center.

Remove all decorations and lighting and check to see if your city has a recycling center that accepts trees. If you live in the Fort Collins area, here are a few options within city limits!

Provide extra shelter for the birds and other small animals in your backyard.

If you leave the tree in its stand and set it outside in a bare spot, it will provide shelter for birds and other small mammals.

Add it to your compost pile.

If you’re starting a new compost pile this year, a layer of branches can make a good base, as they’ll provide airflow to the rest of your pile. Once your base is established, you can continue to add kitchen and yard scraps as usual.

Make mulch.

Mulching has a number of benefits, especially in harsher seasons like winter, and there are two ways to create mulch with your old Christmas tree. The first option is to cut the long branches with pruners and lay them over your perennials. This will keep the perennials protected from frost, ensuring a great bloom in the upcoming spring season.

If you or a neighbor has a shredder, making sure that you’re wearing safety equipment (glasses and gloves), you can cut the branches from the trunk and put them into the shredder one by one. The trunk will usually be too thick to put in the shredder, but this can be dried to use as fuel in an open fire/woodburner/fire pit.

Chop it into firewood.

A standard fir tree can be dried out and turned into firewood. Make sure you give it plenty of time to dry, as that will ensure it burns clean.

One important thing to note with Christmas tree recycling is timeliness. Most Christmas tree recycling programs only last a few weeks into January. This is typically the case with curbside pickup as well. A good rule of thumb is once you flip the calendar to January, start packing up the lights and ornaments and get your tree ready to recycle. If you’re the neighbor who likes to keep their lights up until March, you’ll want to make a note on the calendar because time is of the essence!

Follow us on Pinterest for other holiday tips!