Because I was late to put mine up, I will be late to take mine down. But when I do, I plan to recycle my tree and not just throw it out.

Many cities host drop-off locations where they can be turned into mulch.

But you can do the same thing for yourself… and it doesn’t take too much effort.

First… is it time to throw it out? If you notice the needles dropping more and more, then it’s time to take it down.

A dead or dying Christmas tree still has a lot of usefulness. Save the boughs to mulch your garden beds, make kindling for your next backyard bonfire, or upcycle the wood into do-it-yourself projects.

Compost your Christmas Tree ~ Instead of tossing tree parts into your compost bin all at once, experts say there’s a better way to take advantage of all that organic matter.

First, cut the tree into smaller chunks and gather them into a pile in your yard. Let the pile sit until the pine needles have fallen off and the branches are dry and brittle. Then, use these brown materials as a carbon source for your compost bin.

By saving the pine needles and branches from your dead Christmas tree, you can add brown and green materials to your compost all season long.

Chip the wood for garden paths and beds ~ Wood chips are one of the best choices to fill in garden paths, smother weeds and mulch your beds.

A thick layer of wood chips is far more effective for killing weeds than a sheet of plastic. Wood chips block sunlight while still allowing water and air to circulate through, so the soil food web stays intact.

Place the tree outside and turn it into a bird sanctuary ~You can even hang bird feeders from the branches, or even a birdhouse or two.

Turn the tree into a wildlife habitat ~Simply drag it outside and place the tree on its side in the yard. The branches help attract and protect birds, squirrels, chipmunks and other wildlife that might otherwise have a hard time finding shelter.

By keeping them cozy in your old Christmas tree, you help keep the local wildlife from making themselves at home in your attic, garage or basement.

Use your old tree as firewood ~Your Christmas tree is great fuel for an outdoor fire pit. Use the twigs and needles as kindling, and cut the trunk into logs for burning.

Make wood slices for crafting projects ~ A few ideas if you’re feeling crafty… coasters, ornaments, wall art, and even jewelry.

(sources: Mind Body Green, Tree Canada)