Hedgehog-friendly ways to recycle your old Christmas tree

A young boy chooses a Christmas Tree from a range of standing, pre-cut firs surrounding him

Dobbies have a range of Christmas trees to choose from - Credit: Dobbies

Dobbies Garden Centre in Shepton Mallet give us some handy tips on what to do with you Christmas tree after December 25th.

The presents are unwrapped, the turkey is no more, and all your relatives have headed home. It's been another great December 25th, but now the clean up begins. You stuff shreds of wrapping paper in bin bags, wash up the plates, and then turn to the Christmas tree. It's beginning to sag a little and some of the ornaments have fallen off and are hidden somewhere under the sofa. The question remains: what do you do with tree?

Luckily, Dobbies in Shepton Mallet have you covered and are hoping to encourage locals to use their Nordmann Firs and Nowegian Spruces to make habitats for garden wildlife. The garden centre has announced its top tips on how people can repurpose their cut Christmas trees to create a wildlife haven for small animals and insects to shelter in during the winter months and reduce waste in the new year. This is part of the #SustainableDobbies campaign, in which the retailer raises awareness of sustainable products and practices for customers and supporters.  

“Cut real Christmas trees can be a great tool when it comes to creating a safe place for wildlife to shelter during the winter months," explains Dobbies Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles. "So we’re delighted to show people how they can make use of their trees once the Christmas decorations have come down.” 

A close up of a Christmas tree laden with cute decorations

Once they are empty of decorations, Christmas trees make great garden habitats - Credit: Kevin Bidwell, Pexels

If you haven't bought a tree yet, you can find our recommendations on local retailers here.

Build a Wildlife Haven

Marcus has outlined a step-by-step guide on how people can reuse their real cut Christmas trees to make a wildlife haven in their gardens in the new year: 

  1. Remove the tree from your house carefully to stop any loose needles from dropping. Marcus recommends wearing thick gloves to protect your hands.  
  2. Using a good quality pair of secateurs, starting from the top remove each branch as close as possible to the main stem.  
  3. Stack the branches together four or five pieces high and place onto soil or leaves under large shrubs, trees or hedges. 
  4. Repeat this process until all the branches are used. This will provide a great shelter for small animals and insects to protect them from the worst of the winter weather. Marcus points out that the needles and branches will breakdown over time to produce organic matter than will enrich the soil. 
  5. For the main trunk of the tree use a pruning saw to cut into 30cm lengths, which can then be stacked to make a mini log pile which is a great habitat for wildlife to shelter in. 
A hedgehog, surrounded by brown leaves, looks inquisitively past the camera at something in the distance

Your old tree is the perfect habitat for plenty of critters - Credit: Piotr Łaskawski, Unsplash

One local who will benefit from your Christmas tree haven is everyone's favourite nocturnal critter: the hedgehog. It offers them somewhere to shelter should the need it, and also encourages the bugs and insects that they feed on. 

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Fay Vass, Chief Executive of British Hedgehog Preservation Society said: “We’re delighted that Dobbies are shining a light on ways in which people can create a safe space for hedgehogs and other wildlife in their gardens. Hedgehog numbers are in decline, and they have recently been added to the UK Red List as a species that is vulnerable to extinction. We all need to play our part in improving their habitat and we hope people will take advantage of these tips to help create a safe place for wildlife in their gardens.” 


If you are unable to create a wildlife sanctuary this year, due to lack of space or for another reason, then there are still other environmentally friendly ways to recycle your tree. If you subscribe to the Garden Waste Service, then simply leave your tree by the curb with your bin on the next collection day.  

If you do not have this service, do not worry, there are still plenty of places to take your Christmas tree. Somerset has 16 recycling stations with garden waste skips you can visit across the county. The sites are open on their full winter schedule apart from New Year’s Day and are a good way to clear the decks of large loads of other festive recycling like paper gift wrap and cardboard.

Find your nearest recycling site here.

A little boy and a girl stand in front of Santa, she has turned towards the camera and is grinning

Dobbies are also hosting a number of other events this Christmas - Credit: Stewart Attwood

Also at Dobbies This Christmas

Dobbies Garden Centre in Shepton Mallet also have more to offer than just Christmas trees and recycling tips. The local Dobbies store is one of 50 stores across the UK which will host the Quiet Grottos, specially adapted in partnership with Autism Together, one of the country’s leading providers of services and support to autistic people and their families.  

New for 2021, the Quiet Grottos will allow youngsters and their families to experience the delight of meeting Santa and his elves in an environment where the sound and visual elements have been specially adapted to help minimise anxiety. 

On their visit, people can stroll through a magical winter wonderland walkway, spotting festive characters along the way, before being greeted by Santa’s helpers. Children will receive a gift from a special selection of toys, handpicked by Santa depending on their age. They can also get a snap with Santa and his elves, which can be purchased at the end of their visit. 

Bookings can be made at: dobbies.com/events

A three tiered platter holds a range of cakes, scones, and sandwiches.

This festive afternoon tea includes a range of savoury and sweet treats - Credit: Dobbies

Visitors can also relax after a busy day of Christmas shopping with a delicious and festive afternoon tea. 

Dobbies’ Christmas Afternoon Tea includes a selection of seasonal finger sandwiches, mini cakes, sweet slices and mince pies. Freshly-made festive scones with jam and clotted cream will also be served, perfectly paired with a pot of tea or coffee. For added sparkle, there’s the opportunity to upgrade with a bottle of Prosecco.

Also available for little ones is Dobbies’ Children’s Christmas Afternoon Tea. Freshly-made sandwiches, delicious festive treats, a selection of healthy snacks and fruit juice means the whole family can enjoy a seasonal treat.

This experience is available for a limited time throughout November and December. Prices start from £13.50 per adult and £7.50 per child. Booking is essential.

For more information visit dobbies.com/events