As fun as it is to pick out a Christmas tree, trying to figure out what to do with it once the holidays are over, can be a problem. Luckily, there are many different ways your Christmas tree can be removed and even put to good use after the holidays.
- Before doing anything, thoroughly inspect and remove all decorations from the tree. This includes tree skirts, ornaments, lights, garland, tinsel, and ornament hooks.
- Get rid of your tree before it gets really dry. Dry Christmas trees shed pine needles more than moister trees, and they’re also more dangerous as they’re highly flammable.
- Contact your local sanitation or waste management department. Most waste management departments offer Christmas tree pickup services during normal collection schedules but call or search online to ask about their Christmas tree collection practices. Oftentimes, curbside pickup is available, where all you have to do is leave your tree on your curb, or wherever your garbage is collected. When trees are collected, they are often chopped down and chipped into mulch.
- Make sure to put your tree out on your typical trash collection day to avoid blocking the road or creating other hazards.
- Trees are sometimes required to be cut into 4-foot lengths, so you may need to cut your tree in half. Find out before disposal what is required.
- Check with local fire stations for drop off options. Some local fire stations accept dropped off Christmas trees after the holiday season. Normally, the trees accepted get sent to be mulched and recycled. Any trees that are dropped off need to be in their original state without decorations and ornaments.
What else can Christmas trees be used for?
- Convert your tree into a bird feeder. Secure your tree in your backyard for birds and other creatures to use as a feeding and shelter spot. After some months, the tree will be bare and brittle enough to be chopped up in a wood chipper, where the pieces can later be used for mulch.
- Soil erosion barriers: Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for river or lake shoreline stabilization and sedimentation management.
- 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 chipper, see if he will chip it for you. Be sure to apply garden lime on the mulch to counter the acidity.
- Material as paths for hiking trails: Some communities may shred trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers.
What about next year? Consider a living, rooted tree. Next year consider a living tree with a rooted ball (either in burlap or a container), and then plant it in your yard after Christmas. For those in colder Northern climates, pre-dig a hole in the late Fall while the ground is still soft, and then plant the tree in the hole immediately after Christmas.
A word of caution: Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or woodstove! Pine and other fir/evergreen trees have a high oil content, and burning can cause a buildup of creosote, leading to chimney fires.