How to get rid of your Christmas tree

Christmas tree out by curb Photo by Kolomenskaya Kseniya/Shutterstock

When the holiday season is over, it’s time to call it quits for that conifer. Real trees require careful consideration when disposing of them; they can’t be unassembled and stored in the basement. Here are a few ways to get rid of your Christmas tree.

Municipal pickup

There are environmental benefits to repurposing your tree instead of kicking it to the curb for municipal pickup. Forests Ontario says that more than 100,000 Christmas trees are collected in Toronto annually and chipped into 3,700 tonnes of mulch used as compost in city parks.

Arts and crafts

If you’re feeling crafty, foliage from your evergreen–namely fir tree branches–is excellent for aromatic crafts. Snip the greenery into small pieces and stuff it into a pillow for a refreshing scent in your living room or bedroom–or place them in a dresser drawer and closet. Like woodworking? You can use the trunk to make coasters or candleholders.

Put it in the backyard

Whether you choose a Fraser fir or a Scots pine, real trees are a gift that keeps on giving. According to Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario (CFTO), you don’t have to go much farther than your backyard to get rid of your Christmas tree.

Put your tree in the garden near or up against the fence to provide winter shelter for small animals and birds. It will draw a variety of wildlife: toads, insets, and pollinators will seek refuge under the log. You can ‘decorate’ the tree to feed wildlife throughout the winter. Remember to remove all decorations, especially tinsel, before doing so.

Use your tree as firewood

You can also use your tree as firewood. Because conifers are sappy by nature, burn them outdoors. The sap is flammable, and creosote can build up in an indoor fireplace, so it is best to leave it for the bonfire. suggests you chop the tree and stack it to dry, though you’ll have to wait until next year to burn it. The site also suggests turning the process into a tradition: burn last year’s tree right before you buy/decorate the new one.


Consider habitat for the aquatic population near your home when getting rid of your Christmas tree. CFTO suggests sinking your spruce in the water to provide habitat and cover for fish. Check with your local municipality for whether or not this is allowed.

Let it be

No surprise: real trees are biodegradable! According to a news release from the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the branches and needles make great mulch for your garden (run it through a wood chipper). CFTO says rhododendrons, in particular, will appreciate your effort. Plus, leaving the tree in the garden over winter improves your soil as it decomposes.

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