One year, my husband neglected to take our Christmas tree to the curb for pickup. When the city came around to collect old Christmas trees, ours was still hanging out in the house!

That was the last pickup of the season, so we were stuck with a dying, dried up Christmas tree. We could either pay the city a fee to come and make an extra trip, or we could find ways to reuse it. I chose the latter. And guess what? I don’t regret it!

My first bright idea was to burn the lovely scented branches in the fireplace, but upon further research, I found out that this is very dangerous. The sap in the wood can pop and spark randomly and can pose a fire hazard. But luckily, there are many other ways to reuse a Christmas tree. Whew!

Prevent wind damage

Carefully saw branches from the tree and stick them around tender plants to prevent winter winds from harming foliage. Place the branches over bulbs and delicate plants for some extra warm winter protection. The branches act as a natural blanket and actually have a warming effect.

Give the garden a boost

Remove the pine needles (or use small stems with needles intact) and place them just as you would regular mulch around acid-loving plants such as gardenias and azaleas. The flowers will love this little boost! Turn the trunk into stakes for tomatoes or perennials, or make a functional trellis.

Instant habitat

Simply place the whole tree in a corner of your yard so birds and other wildlife can use it as shelter for the winter. Lean it up against a fence or shed, and the critters will take care of the rest. It will be the perfect place to find warmth and refuge from strong winds or severe weather.

Compost carpet

If you compost, lay the branches from the tree as a carpet for the compost bin. Just layer them along the bottom, and they will mix well with other compost items. For a short while, it may even freshen the bin and make it a tad more fragrant.

Make great-smelling goods

Use the needles (along with some cinnamon sticks and cloves) to make a fragrant sachet. Take a piece of fabric and fill it with the ingredients. Then just stitch it closed. Or boil the ingredients in a pot of water and let the fragrance fill your home! Another option: Tie branches with ribbon and hang them in closets or near doorways for extra freshness.

Birdy fun

Place a length of plastic pipe in the ground, and insert the tree trunk in that pipe. Decorate it as an outdoor tree for the birds by stringing popcorn, dried berries, and in-shell peanuts as garland. Smear chunky peanut butter on pine cones, coat with wild birdseed and use string to hang them as ornaments on the tree. It is not only whimsical and fun looking but very purposeful!

Curb appeal

In just minutes you can stick branches from the tree into soil-filled containers and plant hardy pansies around them. Place the planters in the yard or on the front porch to add some instant curb appeal! Even when the holiday season is over, the look of pine is a winterlong look that never goes out of style.

Instant edging

Safely saw and slice the trunk into 1- or 2-inch-thick discs and use them as edging along a bed. Stain them or paint them for extra color. Or use these discs as inexpensive, rustic coasters.

Bonus tip: Remember that, of course, you can always chop up the tree to use as wood for outside bonfires or wood burning (just remember burning the wood indoors is not recommended).

Eight Ways to Repurpose Your Christmas Tree