What to Do With Your Christmas Tree After Christmas

Written by The Ready Store

Before you put your Christmas tree on the curb to be picked up and tossed aside make sure you know what you could be missing out on. The typical holiday pine tree can become a great asset to your garden, health or cooking needs.

Pine trees can be used for medicinal purposes, cooking, gardens and many other things. Check out this list below and see what you can do with your old Christmas tree. But one thing’s for sure – don’t just throw it away!

Before you toss your tree away, make sure that you extract as much sap as you can. Pine sap is a great medicinal tool that has antibacterial properties. You can use pine sap to seal wounds.

What to do with old Christmas TreeChipper for Mulch
Many people will tell you to use your tree as mulch for the garden but you need to be careful with this. If you’re going to use your pine tree as mulch, you may need to clear off the pine needles. Since pine needles are slightly acidic, they work best with plants that need acidic soil – like blueberries, rhododendrons, gardenias and periwinkles.

Garden Cover
If you’re growing winter plants in your garden, you may need a covering to protect them from huge snow drifts or other extreme weather incidents. An old pine tree is a great way to do that. Not only does it protect your plants, but it will also decompose and add nutrients to your soil.

Firewood and Fire Starters
Allowing the wood to dry out turns into a great source of firewood for your stove or fireplace. You can also use the sap from pine trees as a firestarter. Branches of pine trees also make great torches if wrapped correctly.

Pine Needle Tea
Some people have even made tea with pine needles. The tea is great for fighting bacterial infections. It’s recommended that you add about 10 pine needles for every cup of tea. Start by bringing 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. Break apart the pine needles and add to the water. Turn off the heat and allow it to steep for 5-10 minutes. After 5 minutes, stir in honey to sweeten. You can strain out the needles if you would like. Do not add excessive amounts of pine needles however, in that it can be hazardous to your health.

Grind up the wood and pine cones and use them as a natural thickener like flour and corn starches. The inner bark of the pine tree is actually very nutritious and full of Vitamin C. A helpful tool that you can use in an emergency survival situation.

What do you do with your old Christmas tree?
Comment below to tell us what you do with your old pine trees and how others can use them for different purposes. Share the knowledge!

Updated December 26, 2012


  1. Erika wrote:

    The thing to remember with all the advice is that most Christmas trees are not pine. They are spruce or fir. Spruce pitch can be eaten, but I wouldn’t recommend it! As a whole, all softwood will still burn marvelously, but needles are better as a bonfire than a wood stove additive.

    December 27th, 2012 at 5:07 am
  2. Traci wrote:

    What she said. TERRIBLE ARTICLE – no one uses pine. Was a time when people knew more about different types of tree, but since so few seem to now, and many may not read comments somone needs to send out a cautionary email….

    December 27th, 2012 at 6:03 am
  3. Dan wrote:

    Sink your trees in your ponds to provide cover and habitat for fish production.

    December 27th, 2012 at 6:14 am
  4. Jeff Nieland wrote:

    I leave the tree in the stand, drag it outside, and set it up in a place in the yard that is readily viewable from a window. I string popcorn, berries, and pieces of fruit and redecorate the tree. The birds love it and I love watching the birds. At my place the deer even come up and get some free munchies.

    December 27th, 2012 at 6:25 am
  5. Jeff wrote:

    Great for brush piles in lakes to give you a good fishing spot but check local regulations about this. Do NOT use in small farm ponds. Great for animal habitat, just put it in the woods. Yes, I use to work for a fisheries and wildlife department.

    December 27th, 2012 at 7:02 am
  6. Woolval wrote:

    Way back, way WAY back, when I was a young kid, we would round up dozens of discarded Christmas trees and drag them to an empty field. Then we’d pile them up to make two Christmas tree forts, about 30 feet apart. Then, being brilliant kids, we would get in out forts and hurl pine cones at each other!! Amazingly, we still have all our eyes… LOL!! Good memories!!

    December 27th, 2012 at 7:03 am
  7. Tammy wrote:

    Great tips, but burning too much pine will cause a build up of creosote in your chimney, increasing the risk of a house fire. Pine (or spruce or fir) are best used in an outdoor fire pit.

    I love the idea of redecorating the tree for the birds. Definitely going to do that this year!

    December 27th, 2012 at 7:27 am
  8. Beuna wrote:

    I agree with Erika. If you don’t know what type of tree you have be careful about how you use it medicinally, for tea, or for thickener.
    If you have alkaline soil (as much of the Western U.S. does) the needles will help lower the pH of the soil – a good thing. I add them to my compost pile.
    The needles from spruce, fir, or pine can be used to make potpourri. Combine the needles with other scented plants such as rose petals, orange peel, cloves, etc and add some essential oils.

    December 27th, 2012 at 7:50 am
  9. Holley wrote:

    Rabbits love to chew them up. That’s what we do with them after a friend told us this great little way to “use up” our Christmas Tree.

    December 27th, 2012 at 9:19 am
  10. Reid wrote:

    Bundle them up and sink them in the pond for Crappie habitat

    December 27th, 2012 at 10:55 am
  11. Freddie wrote:

    Wow. Really people? NO ONE uses pine trees for Christmas? I think that means YOU don’t use pine trees for Christmas. Good article, thanks for the post!

    December 27th, 2012 at 11:07 am
  12. cindy wrote:

    I live in Oregon, the capital of Christmas trees. A huge majority of trees cut and sold from here are FIR. I think everyone needs to find out what kind of cut tree you bought before you actually consume or burn in your fireplace.

    December 27th, 2012 at 11:16 am
  13. Tammy Thomas wrote:

    Pine is sold in all parts of the world….great article!

    December 27th, 2012 at 12:01 pm
  14. Bob wrote:

    This is a helpful article about Scotch Pines written for the National Christmas Tree Association: the author believes it is the most common tree used in the USA for Christmas-

    Regardless of consuming derivatives which is a good article, any pond or lake with fish will benefit from the structure they offer just dumped into a submerged location.

    December 27th, 2012 at 12:54 pm
  15. Virginia Lawhorne wrote:

    Pine needle is great! If you like tea, you really should try it. Get a handfull of pine needles from the ends of the branches. Rinse the dirt from them, cut off the ends, cut the needles into pieces, and place in a quart jar. Pour boiling water over them and let steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Strain, and add sugar or honey or just drink it unsweetened. Really good! Good for congestion too.

    December 27th, 2012 at 1:39 pm
  16. Jeff wrote:

    I do have a concern, most “Retail” trees are painted with flame retardant chemicals. I don’t know what chems are used but would probably not want to drink or eat any part of said tree. The scotch pines on the big box store lots were painted Extra Greeeeen this year, so the flame retardant was heavy on those . Thanks

    December 27th, 2012 at 11:35 pm
  17. Practical Parsimony wrote:

    Beware! Christmas trees have all sorts of chemicals sprayed on them. I would never eat or burn a Christmas tree in a fire indoors.

    December 28th, 2012 at 12:21 am
  18. onebrightsnowflower wrote:

    We buy a real tree and plant it after we use it. We always buy our christmas tree, instead of cutting it down. We save it by plantig our tree.

    December 28th, 2012 at 12:55 am
  19. RamboMoe wrote:

    Very cool article! I’m going to post a link to it on my site.

    December 28th, 2012 at 3:03 am
  20. PJ wrote:

    As mentioned above, buddy of mine used a couple dozen as cover in his newly dug fish pond. They floated for a while but eventually sank.

    December 28th, 2012 at 6:24 am
  21. Lex wrote:

    In San Diego we used to take them to the Wild Animal Park and they would put them in different exhibits for the animals to enjoy.

    December 28th, 2012 at 8:29 am
  22. naomi wrote:

    If you live near beaches with erosion damage from Sandy, they are collecting trees to be used in the dune renovations. Check with local municipalities.

    December 28th, 2012 at 12:32 pm
  23. woodee wrote:

    If you’re going to tell us how to steep tea, would you please tell us how to “extract as much sap as you can”?

    December 29th, 2012 at 9:43 am
  24. Stacey wrote:

    Important: Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove. Pines, firs and other evergreens have a high content of flammable turpentine oils. Burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and risk a chimney fire.

    December 29th, 2012 at 12:50 pm
  25. pete wrote:

    I leave it on the side of the road.

    December 29th, 2012 at 7:20 pm
  26. Lia Jacobsen wrote:

    We tie it to a tree outside and decorate it for the birds and animals too. We smear pine cones with peanut butter and roll them in birdseed and hang them, along with the popcorn and cranberry strands that were on it when it was decorated. Hanging apples and pears make great ornaments too. The birds, squirrels and deer all love it and it can get quite crowded out there! We even had some turkeys show up. We keep the strands higher up for the birds and then scatter popcorn and berries on the ground for the deer. They like the branches too. It’s an easy and fun project to do with kids and grandkids and a great way to bring wildlife close enough for the kids to observe and learn. You can also get some awesome photos! Happy new year!

    December 30th, 2012 at 12:26 am
  27. Pat wrote:

    Just heard that goats love to eat them! when you are done with the trees? I would be careful even about that, if the trees have been sprayed

    December 30th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
  28. Kathy Underwood wrote:

    I think the best idea is setting it up for the birds etc. to benefit from. I would also try to buy trees with a root ball to be planted, but this is expensive, but I like it better than killing a tree!

    December 22nd, 2014 at 2:49 pm
  29. EastTenn wrote:

    Burning pine in of itself does not cause creosote in your chimney. Burning wood at low temp. such as green or wet wood or closing your damper to make it last longer will. Although for the most part, pound per pound all wood gives the same amount of btu given the same moisture content, pine actually burns a little hotter due to the pine tar. So if it is good and dry, you do not have to worry about creosote in your chimney.

    December 23rd, 2014 at 7:34 pm
  30. al rey wrote:

    Just throw it out back. We have multiple deer that have been eating on it, several times a day, for the past month. It is the only food that we provide.

    March 6th, 2015 at 8:45 am

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