Over 6 million Christmas trees are sold every year in the UK, and once the celebrations have passed, and the decorations go back into storage come Twelfth Night, it is time to deal with your Christmas tree. Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean your tree has outlived its usefulness, and there are many ways to prevent it from ending up in the landfill. The experts at ManoMano give you some ideas on how to give your Christmas tree a second life, from keeping it alive to recycling it or reusing it in other decorative projects.

First of all: is it a cut Christmas tree or a rooted Christmas tree?

You may not have noticed at the time of purchase, but natural Christmas trees are sold rooted or cut. How do you know if both are usually sold in pots? If you bought it online, this detail is always indicated in the product description. If you bought it in a physical shop or at a Christmas market, the seller should provide you with this information. Very often Christmas trees bought in the UK are cut. 

If you are reading these lines when you have already put away the decorations, tinsel and garlands of lights, it will be easy to answer this question: hold the trunk at the base and pull it upwards out of its pot. Now look at the base… does it have roots or has it crumbled around a cut trunk? Here lies the answer to your question and the various recycling or reuse options below.

What to do with a natural Christmas tree after the holidays?

Now that you know whether your fir tree is cut or rooted, you know that you can only keep it alive if it is a rooted tree. Let’s take a look at the options to give your Christmas tree a second life:

Option 1. Repotting a Christmas tree to another pot or to the ground

If your tree has roots and is in good condition, you can transplant it to the terrace or garden. The most common variety of Christmas fir is Picea abies, also called Picea excelsa, European or Norway spruce. It is a tree that withstands low temperatures very well but suffers a lot from summer heat. 

But this does not mean that it cannot survive, on the contrary! It needs two or three waterings a week and a special conifer fertiliser, especially in spring and autumn.

For a successful transplant, ideally you will have kept the tree inside for no more than two weeks, away from heat sources such as fireplaces or radiators and you’ve provided enough water at its base. Before replanting the tree, give it a few days to re-enter dormancy by keeping it in a cool sheltered area outside, like a garage or a shed.

If you want to transplant it to a garden, bear in mind that in optimal conditions, it is a tree that can grow up to 60 cm per year. Think about this when choosing its location. 

If you prefer to keep it in a pot, transplant it into a larger pot and take it outside. The heat and lack of light it may have experienced over the Holidays may have affected it, but it will recover quickly. Use universal compost and add some perlite to improve drainage.

Option 2. Compost your Christmas fir tree

Give your christmas tree a second life  through composting

All Christmas trees can be composted. City councils in large cities often set up a tree collection programme in public squares or parks at the end of the Christmas season. The gardening service will collect them and turn them into compost. 

If not, you can always put it in the organic waste bin. You can reuse the pot (they are usually large, and that’s always good) or put it in the plastic container. And of course, you can also compost it at home.

Option 3. Use it for mulching

You can use the whole tree to create a mulch that will be very useful for acidophilic plants. If you have hydrangeas, azaleas, gardenias, camellias, rhododendrons or heather they will appreciate it.

If you have a wood chipper, the task is very easy. But if you don’t have one, cut as many branches as you can and let them dry a little before spreading them over the soil in your pots. The trunk can be used as described below.

Option 4. Leave it to dry and use it for handicrafts

Give your christmas tree a second life by getting crafty

The branches that are still green can be used to create some crafts: wreaths, bouquets and centrepieces can still bring some green into your home. Combine it with colours other than red to avoid associating it so much with the holidays that are over.

The trunk can be cut with a saw to create coasters, table mats or for future projects for next Christmas. Or if it was a good size (and you aren’t lacking space), why not let it dry out completely? Next year it can become a minimalist Christmas tree that you can decorate in a totally different style.

Did you enjoy this article on how to give your Christmas tree a second life? Why not read our guide on beekeeping for beginners

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