Extension Service offers four unique ways to re-use your live tree for the whole family to enjoy

If your family has a live Christmas tree, one of your final items on that year-end chore list includes figuring out how to dispose of it. You probably spent precious time picking out the perfect tree and stood with pride every day staring at its beauty, so why let all that holiday magic go to waste just because the season is over? Instead, create a new family tradition by repurposing your live tree.

Hillsborough County Extension Service offers four unique ways to re-use your tree while creating family memories and helping the environment, too.

Four Ways to Repurpose Your Live Tree

  1. Create a beautiful bird feeder. Your tree can easily and quickly be transformed into a bird- feeding station in your yard. This is the perfect yearly tradition, because the whole family can get involved. First, make sure to remove all decorations, hooks, garland, and tinsel strands from your tree. Then, get creative! Hang fresh orange slices, string popcorn, or cover pinecones with peanut butter and bird seed for the perfect dangling treats. During these cooler Florida months, local food supplies for birds can be limited, so this is a great way to help keep their tummies full while attracting beautiful birds for the whole family to enjoy.

  2. Provide shelter for local wildlife. A snag, or dead tree, can be a great resource for wildlife. Simply place your Christmas tree somewhere in your backyard to create a safe space for birds and mammals. Snags provide shelter for woodpeckers, owls, squirrels, racoons, and many other species. The trunk also creates a food source for small and large animals that like to feast on the decaying wood. Extension recommends checking your property's deed restrictions before placing the snag in your yard.

  3. Turn your tree into compost. Gardening is a great family activity, so why not make it a tradition to turn your Christmas tree into compost material to use throughout the year? Composting your tree will create nutrient-rich soil, and keep it out of the landfill. You can cut up the tree using a saw or chipper. The more you cut, the quicker it will decompose. If you are new to composting, attend a composting workshop with your family taught by Hillsborough County Extension Service staff to learn how to turn your organic waste into nutrient-rich soil. You can find a composting workshop that fits your schedule on the Calendar of Events.

  4. Make your own mulch. Your Christmas tree can be transformed into mulch, which can be used around your garden. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, protects plants, and inhibits weed growth while giving your landscape a uniform appearance. You will need to use a chipper to turn your Christmas tree into mulch. If you don't have a chipper, Hillsborough County Solid Waste Services mulches collected yard waste, and you can pick up free mulch at the County's Yard and Wood Waste facilities.

Other Live Tree Disposal Options

  1. Place your tree curbside for pickup. Hillsborough County Solid Waste will dispose of your live Christmas tree for you. Curbside pickup of live Christmas trees is available by following these steps:

    • Remove all decorations, lights, and tinsel.

    • Cut the tree into sections no larger than 4 feet long and 6 inches in diameter.

    • Place curbside on your regular yard waste collection day.

  2. Take your tree to a Yard Waste Processing Facility. Drop off live trees at one of the following Yard Waste Processing Facilities, after removing all decorations, lights, and tinsel:

    • South County Solid Waste Facility, 13000 U.S. 41, Gibsonton, FL 33534

    • Northwest County Solid Waste Facility, 8001 W. Linebaugh Ave., Tampa, FL 33625