Once your holiday decorations go back into storage, it is time to deal with your bare real Christmas tree.
Give it a second, even third life by recycling the bits and bobs you would normally throw away.
Here are some suggestions that go beyond putting it in the garbage.
Even after Christmas is over, there are things you can do with your Christmas tree such as burning it as firewood, turning it into mulch and cutting off the branches to layer on top of plants.
Because they are sap-heavy trees, evergreens tend to burn hot and fast, making them ideal for bonfires. If you have a safe place for an outdoor fire, like a fire pit, dry out your Christmas tree clippings to use for kindling to get your fire roaring.
Trees should be dried out for a few months before burning.
Ashes from burned Christmas trees contain potassium and lime, which when spread in the garden help plants thrive.
Whether it's with woodchips or needles, mulch is a great way to keep your yard trees healthy and moist during the cold season.
Cut up your Christmas tree and put the pieces into a wood chipper. Or keep all those needles that landed on the floor. Place them directly on the soil or on top of the snow. As it melts, the needles will be right where they belong.
Pine needles contain nutrients that enhance the PH of soil, so they are best for crops like blueberries, rhubarb and asparagus.
Decorations and crafts
With a few extra materials, Christmas tree clippings are perfect for making wreaths. You'll need clippers, a wreath ring, wire and wire cutters, and 7-10 pounds of clippings. Wreath rings can be purchased at Christmas specialty stores.
Or take advantage of the clippings' unique shape by imprinting them into air-drying clay for ornaments.
And the tree trunks can be sliced into discs for use in next year's holiday crafts.
Cutting off the branches and laying them in a garden bed will protect plants from winter freezes and spring thaws. Lay tree boughs over garden plants and frozen soil to keep the soil consistently cold, reducing the risk of early sprouting that can occur during winter thaws.
Or use the tree as a windbreak or shade to prevent drying of tender evergreens. Place your discarded tree on the windward side of rhododendron, boxwood and needled or broadleaf evergreens for winter burn protection, or on the south side of these plants to shade them from the drying winter sun.
Old Christmas trees can be a temporary habitat for birds seeking shelter. Stand the tree in a corner of the yard and load its branches with suet cakes, bird seed or fruit.
Hang strands of cranberries and slices of oranges on colorful yarn to complete the edible display.
Take advantage of that pine scent all year round. Pine needles can be stored in paper bags or sachets to use as fresheners around the house or in the car.
A few seconds in the microwave re-releases the needles' scent. Add them to potpourri or pillow stuffing.
Save your tree for trellising beans and peas in the garden. The vines will grow up and over, masking the bare tree branches. Growing vertically saves space and makes harvesting easier.
Check for recycling resources in your community. Many municipalities have special pickups for Christmas trees, which are then chipped, shredded and made available for citizens to use in their landscapes.
Photos: Christmas scenes from around the world
Surfing Santas, spectacular light displays and socially distanced services. See photos of Christmas-themed scenes from around the world.
People ice skate around the Christmas tree in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. Despite of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, a lot of Ukrainians enjoy outdoor Christmas events, often ignoring protective measures. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Pakistani Christians wear Santa Claus suits during a celebrations for Christmas, in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Worshippers sit spaced apart to prevent the spread of coronavirus outbreak as they light candles during a Christmas Eve service at Immanuel Church in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Christmas celebrations in Indonesia will be a low-key affair amid surging coronavirus cases in the world's fourth most populous nation. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
A couple wearing protective masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, take a selfie in front of Christmas decorations in Hong Kong, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A boy dressed in Santa attire performs and asks for alms from motorists at a traffic intersection on the eve of Christmas in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Though Hindus and Muslims comprise the majority of the population in India, Christmas is a national holiday celebrated with much fanfare. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
People wearing Santa Claus hats take part in a Christmas Eve swim in 8 Degree Celsius water, in Lake Leman at Bains des Paquis, in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)
A child plays on a swing that is part of Christmas decorations setup at a mall in Beijing on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. While not traditionally celebrated in China, retailers embrace the festival of gift giving to boost year end sales. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
People walk past the Christmas holiday decorations in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
A lone apple tree is lit up in Christmas lights at Windy Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Mass. Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020.(Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)
Nuns wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus walk pass a Christmas tree with a coronavirus-themed decoration before Christmas mass service at a church in Bali, Indonesia on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
The philharmonic band of Halandri municipality play Christmas songs on the double decker bus in northern Athens, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Greek children will miss out on treats after the government confirmed that traditional Christmas and New Year carol singing will not be allowed this year due the pandemic restrictions measures. The custom sees carol-singers visit homes and shops, receiving a few coins and sweets for their efforts. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
A woman wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus takes a photo near a Christmas decoration in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A man wearing a Santa Claus outfit rides a horse during an event at an equestrian center in Ganeasa, Romania, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. Street celebrations during the holiday season are forbidden and health authorities urge Romanians to limit the attendance of Christmas and New Year's gatherings to close family members to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
Christian children wearing Santa Claus suits run toward their parents as they prepare to participate in a Christmas celebration rally, in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
Fredy Parra, dressed as Santa Claus, speaks to a girl at a Christmas fair in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. For more than 10 years, children have had their picture taken with Parra at the fair for a small fee. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
A man wearing a protective mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus, walks past the Christmas tree and holiday decorations in Hong Kong, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. Hong Kong banned all flights from Britain on Monday, after a new and highly-contagious strain of the coronavirus swept through parts of southern England. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Decorations go up in the main hall of the Sacred Heart Cathedral for Christmas celebrations, in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
A man on a bicycle passes a sidewalk stall where Christmas hats are on sale on suburban sidewalk in Johannesburg, Monday Dec. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
Guests of the Pasea Hotel ice skate across the street from the beach Wednesday, Dec 23, 2020, in Huntington Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Joey Benjamin, left, opens a gift for his son Joey and daughter Emma, right, after officers from the Kingston, Pa., police department purchased Christmas gifts and then delivered them Wednesday Dec. 23, 2020, in Kingston Pa. The Kingston police department officers purchased the Christmas gifts for a family in need. (Mark Moran /The Citizens' Voice via AP)
People wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus walk along the Moscow GUM State Department store in Red Square decorated for Christmas and New Year celebrations, but without the Christmas Market due to the virus-related restrictions, in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. Russian authorities have avoided lockdowns despite high infection levels, insisting that the situation remains under control. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
People walk in Manezhnaya Square decorated for Christmas and New Year celebrations, but without the Christmas Market due to the virus-related restrictions, near Red Square with the Historical Museum and the Kremlin Wall in the background in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. Russian authorities have avoided lockdowns despite high infection levels, insisting that the situation remains under control. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Holiday lights and decorations adorn houses in Brooklyn's Dyker Heights neighborhood, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 in New York. Residents are renowned for their displays of over-the-top Christmas light decorations with life-sized Santas, reindeer, toy soldiers, sleighs and snowmen. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A Palestinian National security unit is deployed in Manger Square, adjacent to the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, ahead of Christmas, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A pedestrian walks through Christmas decorations on an unusually quiet South Molton Street in London, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a new, higher level of coronavirus restrictions to curb sharply spreading infections in the capital and other areas. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
A man walks amongst Christmas decorations outside of EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. France insisted on Wednesday that European Union negotiators should not yield to any time pressure imposed by the Jan. 1 economic cutoff date in the talks with Britain on a trade agreement in the wake of the Brexit divorce, arguing no deal would be better than a bad one. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
A Christmas tree decorated with names of those who died in the August explosion at the Beirut seaport is on display in front of damaged silos, in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Members of a windsurfing center wear Santa Claus costumes as they prepare to paddle on stand up boards during Christmas celebrations in southern costal city of Larnaca, Cyprus, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
A scuba diver dressed as Santa Claus feeding fish during a performance show at Aquaria KLCC aquarium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Opera singer Marianne Cornetti, dressed as Mrs. Santa Claus, stands on the top level of a parking garage and delivers presents and a song to children at nearby UMPC Western Psychiatric Hospital in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. Cornetti, an internationally recognized opera singer and artistic director of the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, organized a toy donation for child and adolescent inpatients at the hospital. Her goal, she said, was to "bring a bit of light and Christmas spirit to the kids. (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
Sandi, a 35-foot, a 700-ton holiday sand tree changes color during a Christmas light show in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. Nightly light shows will run daily between 6 – 10 p.m. throughout the rest of the month. A special extended show will run until midnight on the final night, New Year's Eve. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post via AP)
FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2020, file photo, people walk past the Christmas tree in the Roemerberg square that is reflected in a puddle in Frankfurt, Germany, on a rainy. All most people wanted for Christmas after this year of pandemic was some cheer and togetherness. Instead many are heading into a season of isolation, grieving lost loved ones, experiencing uncertainty about their jobs or confronting the fear of a potentially more contagious variant of the coronavirus.(AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)
A woman wears a face mask as she walks past a closed boutique in New Bond Street, in London, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled Christmas for almost 18 million people across London and eastern and south-east England, following warnings from scientists of the rapid spread of the new variant of coronavirus.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Families shop for Christmas decorations at a market in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
A Christmas tree is decorated to look like Beirut's ancient houses that were damaged in the Aug. 4 seaport explosion, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
A woman wears a face mask as she carries a Christmas tree on a scooter, along the main shopping street of Oxford Street that remains nearly empty in central London, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. Britain's government has imposed new restrictions across many regions, in an effort to restrict the spread of the new coronavirus variant during Christmas festivities.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
The top of Russia's Main Christmas tree is seen as it was installed for New Year and Christmas celebrations in Cathedral Square in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7, in accordance with the Julian calendar. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
A father with his COVID-19 protective mask down, plays with his son at the Esplanade of Ministries which is illuminated with lights and a large Christmas tree, in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
A couple wearing masks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, take selfies at the Esplanade of Ministries, which is illuminated with lights and a large Christmas tree, in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
Crowds line Main Street USA, with Cinderella Castle on the horizon, at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. Disney's Florida parks are currently operating at 35% capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
A woman poses for a picture with a giant Christmas ball installed in from of the Bolshoi Theatre, in the background, as Russian capital is decorated for New Year celebrations in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
The Crosby family took their family tradition to the Dayton mall on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, to have a family photo taken in matching pajamas. This is a tradition that was started back in the '80s. This year Cynthia Crosby chose A Charlie Brown Christmas. Crosby said they are truly, truly blessed and Merry Christmas. (Marshall Gorby/Dayton Daily News via AP)
People watch a Christmas theme projected onto the facade of the Municipal Theatre at Piraeus port town, near Athens, Greece, on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. Despite six weeks of lockdown measures, coronavirus deaths and infections remain high, piling pressure on the country's health system. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Shoppers wear face masks as they walk in Regent Street, ahead of the new Tier-4 restriction measures, in London, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Christmas gatherings cannot go ahead and non-essential shops must close in London and much of southern England as he imposed a new, higher level of coronavirus restrictions to curb rapidly spreading infections.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
An inflatable Santa Claus decorates a Christmas tree sale in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. In background the buildings of the banking district. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Workers decorate a Christmas tree at the Palace square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
A man rides a bicycle by a large Santa Claus Christmas decoration in Bucharest, Romania, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Snow sits on top of a vintage truck with a mannequin depicting Santa Claus at the wheel, as part of a Christmas decoration on the parking lot of Cargo Trailers Sales Inc. in Landsale, Pa., Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
People look at a shop window adorned with Christmas decorations in Milan, Italy, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Italy went into a modified nationwide lockdown Thursday for the Christmas and New Year period, with restrictions on personal movement and commercial activity similar to the 10 weeks of hard lockdown Italy imposed from March to May when the country became the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
The moon hangs over the Manger Square Christmas tree, adjacent to the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, ahead of Christmas, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)