Top 10 things to do with a used Christmas tree

By for CAES News
By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

When Christmastime is over, Christmas tree buyers everywhere are reminded that wrapping paper can be forced into a trash can, but a tree can’t, says a University of Georgia Christmas tree saver.

Matthew Chappell, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, doesn’t take his used Christmas tree to the road to become trash. That tree still has a lot of use left in it.

Chappell’s Top 10 Things to Do with a Christmas Tree after Christmas

No. 1 - Make a bottle tree. Cut all the branches about a foot from the trunk and put wine bottles on them. “My friend in Charleston, S.C., started that trend in his yard at Folly Beach. It’s definitely better with different colored bottles.”

No. 2 - Make a fish habitat. Drop three or four trees together in a pond or lake. Small fish will use the trees to hide from larger fish.

No. 3 - Make a bird pole. “My parents have used trees as bird house poles.” They can also be used to hold bird feeders, but make sure to cut the branches to the trunk or the birdseed will become a squirrel feast.

No. 4 - Make some mulch. “Some people, if they have a chipper or shredder, make mulch out of their trees.”

No. 5 - Make wood. Chop up the tree. The smaller branches make excellent kindling.

No. 6 – Make a vine pole. Trim the branches off, but leave some for vine support. Sink the trunk in the ground. Plant a climbing plant like a morning glory or clematis next to it.

No. 7 - Make a landscape addition. “If you get a live tree, just plant it.”

No. 8 - Make a walking stick. Christmas trees are generally tree species unique in Georgia. Make a special walking stick. “It takes a lot of whittling. You can give it as a gift next Christmas.” This is Chappell’s favorite use.

No. 9 – Make a coat rack. Cut all the branches off except for a few at the top, which should be trimmed 3 inches to 4 inches from the base. “It will turn out very good if you strip the bark. The wood is very pretty.”

No. 10 – Make a longbow. “My brother-in-law made a longbow out of last year’s Christmas tree. A lot of bow hunters are going back to the old style, the old world way of doing it.”

Next year, when it comes to picking a living Christmas tree, he said, look for tree varieties that can take Georgia’s heat. Pines, cedars and cypress typically do well in Georgia. Spruce and fir will wither when summer hits.

Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.