Many Americans love the experience of having a real Christmas tree in their homes for the holidays. The growth of real Christmas trees benefits the environment by sequestering carbon while growing, supporting local businesses and tree farmers, and filling families’ homes with the smell and feel of a real tree. 

    “Getting outside, selecting that perfect tree, cutting it down, and carrying it home can be a wonderful family tradition,” said Paul Johnson, Texas A&M Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program Leader.

    For the month of December, the tree has served its purpose as the pinnacle of Christmas ambiance—providing a fragrant backdrop for parties, a soft glow in the evenings and towering over the festivities on Christmas Day. But now, it’s time to dispose of the tree. 
    Those who enjoy real trees can continue to have a positive impact by sustainably disposing of their tree after the holidays. 


    Real trees are biodegradable, and many communities have tree recycling programs. Check with your local waste management company, a nearby garden center, or local conservation organization to find out if Christmas tree recycling, whether curbside pickup or a drop off station, is available in your area. Texas A&M Forest Service wildfire safety experts recommend recycling trees rather than burning them to prevent unnecessary wildfire danger. 


    Used Christmas trees may be chipped and turned into mulch that can be used in the yard or around the base of your trees and in your garden. Mulch helps prevent soil erosion and compaction. 

    Pond habitat 

    If you have a pond or lake on your property, you can place your Christmas tree in the water to serve as a shelter and food source for fish. The weight of the tree will hold it at the bottom of the pond. If you don’t have a pond or lake on your property, contact local officials to see if there is another suitable pond or lake where you can dispose of your tree. 

    “Live trees can be key for celebrating, and they can continue to provide benefits after the holidays,” said Johnson. “Mulch or fish and wildlife habitat are our favorites.”

    Wildlife habitat

    You can choose to set your tree out in your yard or on your land to create habitat for wildlife. Birds can use the tree as shelter. You can tie bird feed, orange slices, popcorn and other treats suitable for birds to the branches. Be sure to remove all ornaments and decorations before placing the tree outside. 

    Insulate your garden from cold weather

    You can cut the limbs off of your Christmas tree and lay them along your garden to insulate the plants in your garden and protect them against the cold and wind. 

    Tree cookies and coasters

    If you can cut the trunk of your tree into tree cookies, you can use the slices as drink coasters or wood accents in your home. Be sure to choose a sustainable option, like those mentioned above, to dispose of the remaining wood and branches to ensure that the whole tree is disposed of sustainably.

    More information

    For more information on how to sustainably recycle your Christmas tree, contact your local Texas A&M Forest Service district office. Visit to find contact information.