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Around 8 million real Christmas trees will need disposing of this month.

Many will go to landfill which has environmental and financial costs, the latter reckoned to be £22 million for taxpayers.

Thankfully landfill isn’t the only option.

Get mulching

Chopping your tree’s branches into small pieces results in material that can be used as a mulch. Mulching around shrubs, trees and plants protects the soil from rain erosion and frost damage. Also, while needles are a pain on your carpet, they can be just the job when scattered around plants that thrive in acidic conditions.

Using your tree in the garden in these ways will cut its carbon footprint by up to 80 per cent compared to going to landfill, according to the Carbon Trust.

Add to compost

Productive compost heaps need a balance of green and woody material, so adding some parts of your tree to them is fine. But don’t over-do it as the needles take a fair while to break down.

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Branch out

Christmas tree branches can be cut off and put around the base of plants and shrubs to provide insulation and protection from frosts.

Feed the birds

Birds appreciate help finding food at this time of year and a Christmas tree can make a natural feed holder. Before ‘decorating’, make sure the tree is secure in a pot and won’t topple over in strong winds. Then add food decorations, such as apples attached to branches with string or scoop out half a lemon or grapefruit, put holes in the skin and tie to the tree to form a bowl which can be filled with seeds.

Encourage wildlife

Cutting your tree up and piling up the trunk pieces will create an environment that insects and wildlife will soon call home.


If your tree has a root, then giving it a new lease of life in the garden is a great option. Read these tips on what to do from Thrive Ambassador David Domoney.


JustHelping offer a festive tree recycling service which donates money to charities such as hospices. Last year £500,000 was raised by recycling 44,000 trees.

Many councils recycle trees too:

Basingstoke and Deane offer a pick-up service for users of its green waste scheme and also has 22 centres where you can drop-off your tree.

Birmingham City Council is offering tree recycling until 24th January at three locations.

Reading Borough Council has 11 sites where trees can be left for recycling until 15th January.

Wandsworth Council expects to pick up up to 90,000 Christmas trees up to 15th January.

In West Berkshire, trees can be left out with your other rubbish for collection until 29th January. You do not need to be a green waste collection subscriber.

Wokingham residents can use recycle with garden waste or take trees to recycling centres.

Dig into a good gardening book

Winter may limit opportunities for practical gardening but it’s an ideal time to read books to get ideas, inspiration and knowledge for the growing season ahead. We selected a panel to come up with some recommendations.

Find out more