If you have a real Christmas tree in your home, then you are in luck. There are lots of possibilities for it to have an extended life after the festive period. Here’s some ideas to help you out:

Planted tree

Firstly if your tree has roots, then plant it out. Check the likely height and width it could become, and then choose a place where there is room for it to flourish and grow. In the photo above, the children were so pleased to see the Christmas tree in their outdoor space that before the end of the first day, cones and other natural ornaments adorned its branches once more.

Xmas tree mulch

The brashings of Christmas trees make a decorative mulch as shown in the above photo. This was taken in April in Chicago and I thought it was a lovely functional way to use a tree and add different colour and texture to the beds.

Rosmarynek Den

The brashings of the trees can benefit wildlife. By leaving them in a pile with other dead material, then this can create a home for a variety of creatures, not least hedgehogs. A variation on this theme is the den in the above photo, from the Rosmarynek permaculture garden in Brno, Czech Republic. Here’s the cuttings and brashings are piled onto a wooden structure to create a den. Above the den, the brashings break down and climbing plants such as raspberries and blackberries are encouraged to grow over it.

Xmas tree den

Children can use Christmas tree brashings in their play. Dens can be made from the branches which have lost their needles or from fresh cuttings. In the photo below, the den was continuously maintained by the addition of conifer brashings which were lying on the forest floor.

Swedish den

Finally once you have stripped the needles off a tree then it can still be used. It can be moved around by children in their free play activities. Alternatively,  hang a variety of items such as objects, numbers and letters onto its branches . It could even be redecorated in different ways!

Hanging tree

 Whatever you decide to do, make the most of your tree and enjoy its extended potential for learning and play wherever you live. Please suggest other possibilities for re-using Christmas trees – I’m sure there’s many more ideas out there!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kierna December 26, 2013 at 17:50

Great ideas Juliet. I did get old branches for our muddy area last year & it was lovely, the smell was delicious every time it rained!

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Juliet Robertson December 26, 2013 at 17:55

That’s a good idea – I never thought about it as a way of covering muddy paths, etc.

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Deb Millar December 29, 2013 at 09:41

Thanks for great ideas Juliet. I second this use of trees for paths. We lay down the branches then put wood chip on top so it lasts much longer. If you put the wood chip directly onto the mud it just gets absorbed and churned up. We also took the opportunity to talk about how ancient people made walk ways (Sweet Track iron age road/path here in Somerset). Our groups really enjoyed having the sections of path they worked on named after them – we have Tom’s Way, Ashley’s Steps, Ryan’s Track…

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Juliet Robertson December 29, 2013 at 13:15

oh Deb – that is a really clever idea! I know what you mean about the wood chip. Also like the idea of the path naming.

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Coombe Mill - Fiona December 29, 2013 at 10:31

These are great ideas Juliet, I’m hoping to entice my children to create a den with ours. I’ll look forward to reading other suggestions too, thanks for linking up and sharing.

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Juliet Robertson December 29, 2013 at 13:17

You’re welcome, Fiona – for those who don’t know, Fiona runs a family blog and every weekend hosts a link up which is full of outdoor activities. Have a look here: http://www.coombemill.com/blog/

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Ruth Cross October 30, 2015 at 15:18

Quick advice : Be sure to use a dustpan and broom or brush rather than a vacuum to clean up any needles that fall from the tree because they can clog the machine. (It also saves energy to do things by hand.) When preparing your tree for transport, don’t wrap it up in a plastic bag. Roll it in a blanket that you can later shake out and wash.

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Juliet Robertson December 30, 2015 at 00:21

Ruth – thanks so much for this useful advice!

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