How to dispose of a Christmas tree - Five easy ways to recycle your tree

Not sure what to do with your real tree once December is over? Here are some smart ways to dispose of it sustainably

Living room with real Christmas tree and pink sofa.
(Image credit: Future PLC)

It's a sad moment saying goodbye to your real Christmas tree, but when the needles start to drop and the festive period is over, you'll be itching to find out how to dispose of a Christmas tree so the new year can start afresh. But you might find yourself at a loss as to what the best option is. 

Trees can be messy and awkward to manoeuvre, especially when they're no longer contained by netting. This means that many of us are looking for the easiest possible way to get it out of our home - with the least amount of dropped needles possible.

It’s also important to dispose of your tree in a sustainable way that doesn’t harm the environment or waste materials. Luckily, there are a few ways to do just this, with minimal effort and admin. 

Then, you can get onto planning your decor for the New Year - kitchen trends 2024, here we come! 

christmas tree

(Image credit: Future)

 How to get rid of your real Christmas tree 

Once you’ve stripped your tree of all its decorations and lights (goodbye for another year, Christmas tree ideas), there are several options for what to do next with your tree. Bear in mind, these obviously don’t apply to artificial Christmas trees, which can be safely stored away for next year. 

christmas tree

(Image credit: Squire's Garden Centres)

1. Organise a collection via a tree service

It might surprise you to know that there are a few online services that not only sell Christmas trees pre-December 25th, but will also come and collect your tree once you’re done with it in the New Year. runs a Christmas tree collection for customers free of charge if you’ve bought a tree with them. will also collect your tree and take it to a green waste recycling centre, even if you haven’t bought your tree with them – although it will cost you. 

2. Take it to your local recycling centre

In the UK, most, if not all, local recycling centres will accept Christmas trees in the post-festive period. Usually, the used trees are turned into wood chips paths, or turned into soil, meaning nothing is wasted. 

Be sure to check the opening hours of your local centre though, as they will likely be running reduced hours between now and the New Year. 

Bow-decorated Christmas tree

(Image credit: Melanie Lissack Interiors

3. Co-ordinate a collection with the council

Alternatively, many councils will also run a tree pick-up service for free, although collections are usually only on specific dates, so be sure to check the website for your specific council area. In some cases, trees can be left on the kerbside for pick-up, though this won’t apply in every area so do check before abandoning a tree on the side of the road.

4. Replant your tree or reuse parts of it

If you have a garden and the roots of your tree are still attached, you can easily replant it in the hopes that it’ll become a part of your greenery after Christmas. If the roots have been maintained (they’ll usually be balled up in a burlap sack), you can simply dig a hole and pop it in.

However, in order to make sure it takes, it’s ideal that your tree has spent less than 10 days inside, and was situated as far away from heat sources as possible. If this method isn’t right for you, you could instead try and reuse some parts of the tree – the branches for example can make for excellent winter pot-pourri, and the trunk is ideal for use in an outdoor firepit

'If you picked up a potted tree this year, why not move it to the garden and keep it for next year? Just make sure the needles haven’t browned and it hasn’t been kept in a room that’s too warm, otherwise it’s likely not to survive,' adds David Mitchell, garden and seasonal buying manager at Homebase.

'Make sure to regularly water and prune the tree, and keep them healthy with a good fertiliser, this will give it the best chance of survival.'

Farm of korean fir Christmas trees

(Image credit:

5. Send it to local charities

Finally, lots of charities often run ‘tree-cycling’ initiatives. 'Many charities offer a disposal service in exchange for a donation, so you can get rid of the tree and do good for a cause too,' advises David. 

Usually, you pay a fee – which goes straight to the cause – and a member of the organisation will pick up your tree, usually for recycling. With some outdoor charities, the trees are sometimes reused, for example as part of flood defences.

Most charities we've found offering this are locally based so the best way we've found to find one is to search 'Charity tree-cycling' initiatives and your postcode or area to find the best one for you. 

So which option will you choose?

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend. 

With contributions from