How Should I Dispose of my Christmas Tree?

Michael Pollick

Every year, thousands of households must dispose of live evergreen trees used as part of the Christmas holiday tradition. Some experts suggest that a live tree should be kept indoors no longer than three weeks, since it could become a fire hazard after that time. There are actually several different ways to dispose of a Christmas tree properly, depending on the local governmental services available. In some places, the city will pick up your old tree for you, while in others, there may be a designated place to drop it off. Of course, trees can also be repurposed for other uses.

Some cities designate a Christmas tree pick-up day where the sanitation vehicles will come get old trees.
Some cities designate a Christmas tree pick-up day where the sanitation vehicles will come get old trees.

Some cities designate specific times for curbside Christmas tree pickup. Once all of the decorations have been removed, along with the stand, the tree should be carried out to the same location as other garbage or yard waste receptacles. On the specific day of pickup, a city sanitation vehicle will arrive to cart it away.

An old Christmas tree can be put outside to be used as a shelter for small animals or birds.
An old Christmas tree can be put outside to be used as a shelter for small animals or birds.

Other cities may offer a free Christmas tree mulching program. You can transport your tree to a designated area, where trained workers will feed the limbs and trunk through a powerful mulcher. The finished mulch will eventually be recycled as plant cover for city-owned trees or offered to the general public as a free gardening product. Homeowners can also rent a portable mulcher for tree disposal if commercial services are not available.

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A homeowner may also choose to convert the wood into an outdoor bird or small animal feeder. Once the tree has been removed from the home, it can be filled with suet and various feeds. The branches can provide shelter for small animals or birds during the winter months. Once spring arrives, it can remain as a natural shelter until it disintegrates, or it can be converted into ground cover for plants and other trees.

Some wildlife management organizations also accept leftover Christmas trees for use in wildlife refuges and lakes. These trees could be placed in deep woods for shelter, or sunk in a lake to form habitats for fish. Homeowners who wish to dispose of a tree in an environmentally sound manner should contact local wildlife management agencies for additional details on recycling programs.

A Christmas tree with presents.
A Christmas tree with presents.

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Discussion Comments


I have a very crafty friend who uses her Christmas tree trunk in creative ways each year. Last year, she cut it into two inch thick slices to make stepping stones.

She staggered the tree stones from her driveway to her front porch. She would place a larger stone from the base of the tree next to a smaller one from near the top, and it looked so cool.

One year, she had a Christmas tree with a super thick trunk. She cut it and used the bottom twenty inches as the base for a small table. She placed a sheet of plexiglass on top of it and glued it there, and it makes a very interesting piece of furniture.


@Perdido – I'm also a fan of Christmas tree mulch, but since there is no mulching service or wood chipper in my area, I have to wait awhile for mine to form. I always buy a pine tree at Christmas time, because pine needles make a nice, thick mulch.

After New Year's Day, I take my tree out into my backyard. It takes a long time, but eventually, the needles turn brown. Some of them fall off, and others have to be removed by hand.

When I purchase a pine tree for Christmas, I look at it as a two for one deal. I'm getting a tree for my house, but I'm also getting a great deal on a ton of mulch that would have cost much more if purchased from a garden store by the bale.


I wasn't aware that Christmas tree mulch might be available to the public. That is an awesome service.

My dad owns a wood chipper, so we have always just thrown our old trees into it and used the chips as mulch in our gardens. My brother, sister, and I all bring our trees over after Christmas, and we leave with several bags of garden mulch.

Since I have a flower bed that I hate to weed all the time, this mulch helps me out a lot. It keeps weeds and grass from taking over the area, and it also keeps moisture in the soil between waterings.


My family only used fresh Christmas trees while I was growing up, so I continued the tradition when I moved out. I hated having to throw away trees after only a few weeks, so I decided to get a living Christmas tree. This comes with the root ball attached, so you can plant it in your yard after Christmas.

I chose a beautiful blue spruce tree. To prevent shock from temperature change, I left the tree outside for the first few days. On the fifth day, I brought it into my garage, which is warmer than outside, but not as warm as the house.

I sprayed it with an antiwilt spray to keep the needles in place and conserve moisture. Finally, I moved it into the house, where it survived the next three weeks planted in a large tub of soil and rocks.


Lugged that dried out Christmas tree to the curb for the last time? Sick of vaccuming up a forest of pine needles? Tired of your dog using your Christmas tree water as his personal water supply? Check out What Are the Advantages of Artificial Christmas Trees?

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