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Can I Compost Christmas trees?

(From the Garden waste, Household waste category | 3 comments - join the conversation)

christmas-treesYes, you can compost real Christmas trees – though do remember to take the baubles off first ;)

Because the needles are slightly “rubbery” and tough, they’re quite resilient to the usual composting bacteria so take ages to breakdown, and the trunk can take even longer: cutting up the tree or, ideally, shredding it will help a lot. Otherwise, it could easily be next Christmas or the one after that before you start seeing any progress.

You can take advantage of the fact they’re slow to rot down by striping off the needles (if they’ve not already fallen off!) and sprinkling them over muddy paths in the garden. Other people use the bare boned tree to make habitats for wildlife & birds or grow climbing flowers/beans up them.

(One thing to note: It’s a myth that pine needles will make your soil more acidic. Yes, they are generally quite acidic when fresh/on the living tree but by the time you’re ready to compost your Christmas tree, their acidity will have waned considerably: adding fallen/dry needles to your heap won’t disturb the balance too much and once composted, they’ll have little impact on the ph of your soil.)

Alternatively, many councils are happy to take away real Christmas trees as “green waste” (industrial composting processes make short work of the tough trees) and some have even have schemes that use them in local environmental projects. Check your council’s website for details.

Also see: How Can I Recycle Christmas Trees?

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  1. Thank you for answering the one question that caused me so many sleepless nights. We do compost, but we were afraid of making the soil too acidic. Now, I can’t define whether I am eager for Christmas to come, or can’t wait to compost the tree :))
    While I was not sure if it could be composted and since I stopped relying on council’s collections, I was considering a Christmas tree disposal, yes there is a such thing. Also, council’s schemes are great(not for me, and not as great as composting) and can save you from all the needles-hassles, but if someone goes to another place for the holiday, he might find his floor at home covered with piles of needles. Christmas is coming and with it composting as well :)

  2. Thank you!

  3. Very helpful. As a keen composter I don’t want to share with the Council.
    The trunk and thicker branches can go behind the shed, already overhung with beech trees, where we have nesting robins AND we think wrens, coming and going around the same area.

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