B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


Download the audio files or subscribe to our podcast.






Recycle Your Holiday Greenery

Christmas tree
Christmas tree ready for recycling
(courtesy Larry Caplan, Purdue Extension)

Though it may give you the blues to take down your holiday decorations, you can find solace in recycling your greenery. After you remove tinsel, plastic and other non-recyclable decorations, use the greenery to provide food and cover for wildlife or chip it into mulch for landscape protection.

Winter birds will appreciate having recycled trees and garlands for cover, especially if you decorate them with bird-food ornaments. You'll need to secure the tree trunk or garland stems to the ground to prevent them from rolling away in winter winds. Attach to a stable support, such as a fence, or stake with wire or twine.

Decorate with wildlife-friendly ornamanents such as suet, molded seeds or disposable birdseed hangers, which are readily available from garden centers and bird supply shops. Homemade treats, including pine cones or stale bread smeared with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed, are also a hit. Be sure to keep these goodies out of reach of dogs and cats.

Christmas tree mulch
Christmas trees recycled into mulch
(courtesy Larry Caplan, Purdue Extension)

Christmas trees can also be recycled for mulch around your landscape. Chop or grind smaller branches for wood chips to use in flower, tree and shrub beds. Larger branches can be cut into smaller bundles for winter protective mulch around newly planted perennials and small shrubs. Be sure to remove the branches next spring as the plants begin to grow again.

Many communities have special pick-up service for discarded holiday trees. The trees are usually chipped for use as mulch in parks and other city properties. Check local newspapers or call your local street department for information.


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox