Christmas Trees – After Christmas

Holidays, especially ones where family and friends gather to celebrate, tend to produce lots of leftovers – leftover food, leftover dirt in the carpet, leftover wrapping paper, and in the case of Christmas, leftover greenery.  So, what should be done with the Christmas tree, wreaths, mantle ropes and door swags?  Recycle them of course!


What are the options for recycling?

-take them to an approved collection site.  In the Omaha metro area, there are 14 sites.  See for more details.

-cut them into bits and use them for trail cover and travel rows in the veggie garden or to make “merry mulch” and cover tender perennials and roses.

-set them by a bird feeder to provide habitat for songbirds, then cut them into bits after they turn an ugly brown.


Each method of recycling has its own pros and cons.  Transport to a collection site requires a truck or the top of an SUV, which can scratch the paint of the vehicle, probably more now than when purchased, as the tree has dried out significantly since then. On the other hand, once you drop it off, it’s over and done with, which is nice.  Plus, the city of Omaha gets one more tree to use for trail cover in the parks system.

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If you have perennials and a veggie garden, cutting the tree or green decorations into small pieces or at least cutting off the branches and using them is a real functional asset.  The down side is the cutting, which takes about a half hour to an hour, and can be divided into 2 or 3 sessions.

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The birds really enjoy the protection of a Christmas tree, especially if you live in a new neighborhood without established trees and shrubs.  Placing it 10 feet or so away from the feeder or bird bath allows them to eat or drink/bathe and then escape to the respite of the tree structure.


Like many other things in life, dealing with the leftovers of Christmas greenery is a choice.  The encouragement here is to take the above factors into account and make the best choice for your family.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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