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How to Properly Dispose of Your Christmas Tree

By , December 29th, 2014 | 7 Comments »

How to properly dispose of your Christmas tree
It’s that time again. Christmas is over and you might be wondering how to get rid of your Christmas tree. According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), leaving your tree in the trash or “on the curb,” is not the best way to use this biodegradable resource, though it is one of many ways to cleanly get rid of a tree.

If you would prefer to just remove your tree without reusing or recycling it, NCTA writes that the best way to avoid creating a destructive (and potentially hazardous) trail of pine needles is to place a tree bag (available at local hardware stores) underneath the tree, hidden under the tree skirt. After the Holidays have past, the bag can be pulled up over the tree, which is then carried to the curb for disposal.

For those who did not plan ahead, a plastic bag can still be used. This time, the bag would be placed over the tree and carefully removed from the home. One should note that before tree removal commences, all ornaments and lights should be removed. In addition, home improvement giant Lowe’s reminds tree owners not to wait for their trees to “dry out” before removal, given that drier trees are more likely to cause house fires.

Once the tree is removed, it makes sense to sweep the scattered pine needles with a broom because the needles often clog and damage vacuum cleaners. If you watered your tree during the holiday season, you should also inspect the area underneath the tree for water damage and/or mold.

If you hope to recycle or reuse your tree, there are a number of options. One of the easiest is to simply drop off the tree at your local recycling center. Usually, the center will take your tree at no extra charge, but you should call to confirm before doing so. Alternatively, your tree could become the mulch you use for your garden this spring. Many communities have now begun this practice of turning trees into mulch, and you can contact your local disposal company for more information, and to see if this is an option.

Both Lowe’s and NCTA present even more creative options. In a blog post for Lowe’s, the author describes how to use pieces of a Christmas tree to create pond feed, a birdhouse or fashion pieces of the tree into next year’s ornaments. Trees can also be used as soil erosion barriers as was done in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. Some counties also use shredded trees for hiking paths.

In the case that recycling programs are not available in your area, NCTA asks individuals to contact the Association at 636-449-5070 to start and promote a recycling program. Or you can send an email to [email protected]

To avoid this problem all together, you may want to consider creating an alternative Christmas tree next year, or buying/renting a living Xmas tree.

(Photo courtesy of Pete)

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  • art says:

    People, don’t throw it in the trash. Take the time to cut it up and place it in the compost at the very least. Christmas trees are the last thing that need to be going to the dump.

  • Darrel says:

    Pine needles are not hazardous as the article suggest simply is not so true, they can be used as mulch for your plants they help keep in the moisture and protect your plants from the cold of winter and somewhat break down to feed your plants some nutrients I have a pine tree in my yard planted around all my plants and when the needles fall they end up in my plants this has been going on for years and no plant has ever died, they have protected and nourished and kept the plants moisture level in check and they look beautiful, plus it’s free mulch and you can subtract some if it builds up too much from time to time

  • damien says:

    Pine needles are NOT hazardous and can even be eaten by goats, as last year’s “goats eat Christmas trees” news showed us. Fire is the thing that should frighten us, as many throw the threes, being completely sure that they will decompost from themselves – no they won’t. Air and sun will dry them and here comes the possibility of fire. Be smart, people!

  • Axel says:

    Is it bad if my neighbors and I make a giant fire out of our Christmas trees every year?

  • Gavin says:

    I host a giant bonfire post Christmas party in my field for my community (I own a lot of acreage – 83 acres, to be exact) with the blessing of the local fire chief. It’s a great way to dispose of old Christmas trees while contributing to the community by giving families something to do together. Hot apple cider, hot chocolate, hotdogs, s’mores….it’s a great time!

  • Robert says:

    When we have Christmas trees, we usually opt for a biodegradable option, because we allow nature to recycle itself. Lowe’s and NCTA’s option of using the bark to make birdhouses is a cute idea. I definitely would prefer to use it to make the mulch for the garden that they said earlier. Nice article.

  • Great info, we regularly have to consult customers on how to correctly and safely dispose of their Christmas trees.. Maybe I’ll just send them this article from now on! Thanks.


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