We’ve come a long way from just tossing a real Christmas tree in the trash.
Many cities have recycling programs and will pick it up, or you can drop it off somewhere.
But there may be an easier, environmentally friendly option.
“The other thing you can do with your Christmas tree is give it this second life by putting it in your backyard and letting nature recycle it in your backyard,” says Dan Kraus, a biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to plant it — just toss it in the backyard.
Here’s how it works.
First, just stick the Christmas tree out in the backyard. It can become a habitat for birds to rest on or find warmth during the winter season.
At the end of winter, or when the needles are pretty much dead, Kraus recommends you cut the branches off and put those in the garden for added soil nutrients. It also helps speed up the decomposition process.
By summer, underneath the trunk, you’ll find a habitat of insects, worms and maybe even toads.
By fall, a good chunk of your old Christmas tree will have already turned into soil. Any of the bigger pieces will just become soft.
“More and more people are doing naturalization, from things like planting milkweed to encourage monarch butterflies to planting native wildflowers,” Kraus says. “I think by doing this you can just connect a little bit with nature and maybe even change your relationship with the natural world around us.”
The more moisture and contact with the ground your Christmas tree has, the quicker it breaks down.