I’m always shocked to see the skeletal remains of Christmas trees on the streets of towns and cities after Twelfth Night. It seems all the more poignant when you consider the number of years taken to grow these trees. They’re then discarded after a few weeks covered in tinsel, lights and baubles. But there are a number of options for using the needle-less remains in your garden.

The simplest way for all our Christmas trees to ‘live on’ is as a compost ingredient. Shredded or cut up into small pieces, the woody branches and trunk can be mixed into a compost heap or bin. Here they’ll help make a rich growing medium to nourish your garden soil. And if you don’t make compost, then simply spread the chopped remains on the soil surface under large shrubs where they’ll gradually decompose.

More uses for Christmas trees

Alternatively the tree can be recycled into a wildlife refuge, in a sheltered part of the garden. Simply push ten to twelve of the medium-sized branches into the ground. Overlap them to form a ring around 40cm in diameter. Then shred or chop up the rest of the tree into small pieces that are used to fill the ring. Top off with a couple of handfuls of fallen leaves. There are usually some to be found still at the back of a border or under a hedge. If not in yours then possibly in a neighbour’s garden. Beetles, insects and amphibians will crawl into this small corral during the growing season. Here they can escape extremes of temperature or undergo part of their lifecycle.

In its un-shredded form you can use the structure of Christmas trees as supports in the summer garden. Cut from the main stem, the branches can be pushed into the soil around herbaceous perennials that have a tendency to flop in the border. They can also be used as pea sticks on the veg plot. The main trunk is ideal as a central prop to build a wigwam of canes around for climbing and runner beans or sweet peas.

So remember, a tree is not just for Christmas: it’s for new life in your garden.