How and Where to Recycle Your Christmas Tree After the Holidays
Christmas is over, the egg nog has gone off, the relatives finally departed… and you’re left packing up the lights and ornaments and wondering what to do with the Christmas tree. Put it out by the curb and hope that the garbage men will take it away. Not likely. Put it in a corner of the yard and believe it may break down. Not in your lifetime. So what?
Many cities and counties have recycling services to put your old Christmas tree to new life as a wildlife sanctuary, on a sand dune to protect the beach, chipped for mulch or as a bird feeder.
What Are Your Recycling Choices?
After the holidays, don’t throw your natural tree away! Here are some tips on what to do with your tree after the holidays. In general, you have these options:
1. Curbside pick-up for recycling – Most areas will collect trees during their regular pickup schedules on the 2 weeks following Christmas. There are often requirements for size, removing ornaments, flocking, etc; see below for details.
2. Call for an appointment to have a non-profit in your area pickup your tree. Some boy scout troops are offering a pickup service for a small donation (often $5).
3. Take your tree to a drop off recycling center. Most counties have free drop-off locations throughout the county.
Other tips and ideas
Removing the tree: The best way to avoid a mess removing your tree is to place a plastic tree bag (which are available at hardware stores) underneath the stand when you set the tree up! You can hide it with a tree skirt. Then, when the holidays are done, pull the bag up around the tree, stand and all, and carry it outside. Obviously, you will want to remove the stand before recycling the tree. If some needles do scatter inside, it is better to sweep them up; as needles can clog vacuum cleaners.
Tree Recycling / Mulching programs are a fast-growing trend in communities throughout the nation. They chip and shred the trees, then make the mulch available for use in your garden. Your hauler will notify you of pick-up dates in your area. There are a few things you must do to make your tree ready for RECYCLING. Here are some general tips – but be sure to check with your local hauler – these are just general guidelines!
Soil erosion barriers: Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially at for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management.
Fish feeders: Sunk into private fish ponds trees make excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.
Bird feeders: Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter. (Make sure all decorations, hooks, garland and tinsel strands are removed). Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper. See this article from Perdue University for more information.
Mulch: A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden. If you have a neighbor with a chip, see if he will chip it for you.
Paths for Hiking Trails – some counties use the shredded trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers!
Living, rooted trees: Of course, next year, you could get a rooted (ball and burlapped or containerized) tree and then plant it in your yard after Christmas (It’s a good idea to pre-dig the hole in the late Fall while the soil is still soft, then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas.) NOTE: Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates, than in a northern area.
Important: Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove. Pines, firs and other evergreens have a high content of flammable turpentine oils. Burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and risk a chimney fire.
Unless otherwise noted, all stands, lights, decorations, and tinsel must be removed. Artificial Christmas trees can not be recycled. They must go out with the garbage.
General tips for most haulers:
1. Remove all ornaments, tinsel, lights, and other NON-Organic decorative materials. This includes tree stands also.
2. Trees are often required to be cut into 4 ft lengths; so you may need to cut your tree in half. In some locales, the trees must be cut small enough pieces to fit inside your green (yard waste) container.
3. Flocked trees will often need to be chopped-up and disposed with regular solid waste. Each area has different requirements.
4. Trees are usually collected curbside for two weeks after Christmas.
5. FREE Drop-off locations are also commonly available
If you miss the collection period, you can cut-up the tree and place it in your green (yard waste) container for pick-up on the regularly scheduled service day; assuming your area has a yard waste collection program to which you subscribe.
Check your local City Website for information about tree removal services, and visit any one of Centerline Homes NEW HOME Communities to find your new home for the holidays!