How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree After the Holidays
Local Options to dispose, recycle or plant your Christmas tree
(Note: this page is updated every year, right before and after Christmas!)
Christmas is over, the eggnog has spoiled, 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 can you do?
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. Look below on this page for both general tips and options specific to your local area:
What Are Your Nearby 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:
- 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.
- Nonprofits that pick up trees: 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).
- Drop off your tree: Take your tree to a drop off recycling center. Most counties have
free drop-off locations throughout the county. Usually, you may take up
to two trees to any of the following drop-off locations at no charge.
- Yard waste: Cut the tree to fit loosely into your yard waste container.
- DIY: Recycle the tree yourself: chop it or shred it to use as mulch or in compost, or place in a naturalized part of your property as a bird habitat.
See other ideas below.
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:
- Remove all ornaments, tinsel, lights, and other NON-Organic
decorative materials. This includes tree stands also.
- 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)
- Flocked trees will often need to be chopped-up and disposed with
regular solid waste. Each area has different requirements, so be
sure to check with your hauler's website (see below).
- Trees are usually collected curbside for two weeks after
- 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.
Specific local information is given below, where available. If no local
information is provided, and you wish to add it, please use the
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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. Check below on this page or with your local department of public works for information.
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! To find your local hauler:
If it is Waste Management Inc (WM),
click here to
find your Local WM Service Provider's Website - or
click here to
contact Your Local WM Customer Service Center by Phone - find
the 1-800 number of your Local Customer Service Center
If your local hauler is AW / BFI
(Allied Waste) - Click here to locate the contact information for your
- 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 (Louisiana does both).
- 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.
- Miami-Dade County Christmas Tree Drop-off - Golden Glades - 140 Northwest 160 Street, MIAMI, FL 33161. Phone: (305) 594-1500. Open: Monday to Friday 7am to 5:30 pm, from Jan 01, 2006 through Jan 31, 2006. Residents of unincorporated Miami-Dade county may drop-off undecorated Christmas trees at this Neighborhood Trash and Recycling Center. Please call for more information. Please remove all ornaments and tinsel prior to drop-off. Chips will become available as trees are shredded. Other locations:
- North Dade - 21500 Northwest 47 Avenue, MIAMI, FL 33181. Phone: (305) 594-1500.
- Sunset Kendall - 8000 Southwest 107 Avenue, MIAMI, FL 33156. Phone: (305) 594-1500.
- West Perrine - 16651 Southwest 107 Avenue, MIAMI, FL 33157. Phone: (305) 594-1500.
- Moody Drive - 12970 Southwest 268 Street, HOMESTEAD, FL 33032. Phone: (305) 594-1500.
Boise - Christmas Tree Recycling
- Christmas trees will by picked up by
BFI/Allied Waste during the first two weeks of January. Christmas trees
set out for collection must be free of lights, ornaments, tinsel, and
stand. They must be cut to 4-ft. lengths or smaller. Flocked trees and
wreaths are not accepted.
All other areas of Idaho
Chicago - On
Saturday, January 12, 2008 from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. bring your tree or a bag of
recyclables to a participating site and receive a free gift, your choice of
compact fluorescent light bulb or blue bags, (gifts available while supplies
last). ., the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago allow you to recycle your Christmas tree at one of 22 parks across the cityFor more information, call 312 742 7529. Since you missed this date: another option is to have the tree picked up right from your home. For a small donation (usually set at around $10), the not-for-profit recycling company, Do the Right Thing, will schedule a pick up from your residence and take the tree to a local nursery for chipping and composting. Contact them at
- Bessemer Park: 8930 S. Muskegon Ave.
- Devry Institute: 3401 N. Rockwell
- Forestry Site: 900 E. 103rd St.
- Garfied Park: 100 N. Central Park Ave.
- Grant Park: 900 S. Columbus Dr.
- Humboldt Park Boathouse: 1440 N. Sacramento Blvd.
- Jackson Park: 6300 S. Cornell Dr.
- Kennedy Park: 11320 S. Western Ave.
- Kelvyn Park: 4438 S. Wrightwood Ave.
- Lake Meadows Park: 3117 S. Rhodes Ave.
- Lincoln Park: Cannon Dr. at Fullerton
- Margate Park: 4921 N. Marine Dr.
- Marquette Park: 6700 S. Kedzie Ave.
- McKinley Park: 2210 W. Pershing Rd.
- Mt. Greenwood Park: 3721 W. 111th St.
- North Park Village: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.
- Norwood Park: 5801 N. Natoma
- Portage Park: 4100 N. Long
- Riis Park: 6100 W. Fullerton
- Rowan Park: 11546 S. Avenue L
- Sheridan Park: 910 S. Aberdeen St.
- Warren Park: 6601 N. Western Ave.
- Wentworth Park: 5625 S. Mobile Ave.
All other areas of Illinois
The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
Coastal Restoration Division (CRD) has been conducting a Christmas Tree
Fence Program, using trees to help protect state's coastal wetlands.
About half a million trees have already been used in erosion-control
projects since the program began. Typically, a Christmas tree fence is
based on a simple design and utilizes familiar materials. A treated
wooden fence, or "pen", is constructed in a shallow open-water area.
Then the Christmas trees, donated by Louisiana's citizens after the
holiday season, are placed into the pen. Please contact the individuals
listed below to determine collection schedules and sites. Trees should
be free of tinsel, flocking, bases, plastic bags and ornaments. For more
information, contact DNR's Coastal Restoration Project Manager, Keith
Lovell, (225) 342-0202 or
visit the DNR website
and also this Earth911 page:
Baltimore City - take your Christmas tree to the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute parking lot, located at 1400 West Cold Spring Lane from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturday, January
5, 2008 and from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Sunday, January 6, 2008. For residents who do not wish to bring their trees for mulching, the Department of Public Works will offer curbside pickup. Trees will be collected on the second trash collection days, which are Thursday, Friday or Saturday, from January,
3 to January 28, 2006. Trees should be placed in the same location as your trash and set out no later than 7:00 am on collection day. For additional information, call 311.
- Baltimore County - the curbside collection of Christmas trees will involve two collections over a two-week period rather than three collections over a three-week period. For additional information, residents may call the Bureau of Solid Waste Management's customer service line at 410-887-2000.
- More information can be
found at the following numbers.
Anne Arundel County
- Boston - The Department of Public Works will collect and recycle Christmas trees during the first two weeks of January. You should put your tree out on your regular trash and recycling collection day. If your apartment building puts their trash in a dumpster, trees should be placed next to the dumpster for collection. If you miss this, the city collects Christmas trees for recycling in January: call 635-4959 for a date.
- Elizabeth, NJ - Front Street Transfer Station. 625 South Front Street, ELIZABETH, NJ 07202. Phone: (908) 629-9270. Open: Saturday 7am to 5pm. Location Notes: Essex County residents need to call the ECUA at 973-857-2350 extension 134 to open an account. Hours for Essex County residents are Saturday 7am to 1pm. Fees apply, so please call for the fee schedule. This site accepts leaves, grass, trees, hedges, shrubs, and stumps.
- Hunterdon County - Hunterdon residents can take their Christmas trees to Deer Path Park on West Woodschurch Road in Readington Township on Jan. 7, 24 and 21, 9 am to 2:30 p.m for disposal. Many municipalities in the county also offer tree-disposal service. The Deer Path program is open to county residents only, and identification will be required. Up to three trees per family will be accepted. No commercial drop-offs will be permitted, and no landscape debris or wreaths will be accepted. The trees will be chipped during the month, and woodchip mulch will be available for home use on a first-come, first-served basis. Call 782-1158 for information.
- Lebanon - The fire company will host the annual "Burning of the Greens" on Friday, Jan. 6 at 6 pm to mark the 12th night of Christmas. After January 6, residents should use the Hunterdon county program.
- Lebanon Township -Township residents can drop off trees behind the Municipal Building on Saturday, January 21, 2006.
- Milford - Curbside pickup will be during the week of January 23, 2006.
- Montclair, NJ - The Township of Montclair Parks and Shade Tree Division at the Department of Community Services will be collecting Christmas trees only from curbside in January 2006. There will be no drop off sites in the parks. Christmas tree pickup will begin on Tuesday, January 3, 2006 and will continue through February 3, 2006. To eliminate double handling, standard packer trucks will be used for the collection, and the trees will be composted for mulch. Residents are reminded to remove all decorations such as lights, balls, and tinsel, as well as the tree stand. In the event of a significant snowfall, trees will be collected upon completion of municipal snow removal efforts. For further information, please call the Dept. of Community Services at (973) 783-5600.
- South Brunswick, NJ - Christmas trees will be picked up for recycling by the Public Works Department between January 2 and January 13, 2006. Trees placed out after that time will be taken by the garbage company.
- Warren County - Bring your trees to the Convenience Center located at the Warren County District Landfill located at 500 Mt. Pisgah Avenue, Oxford, NJ from January 2nd through February 28th, 2004, Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturday, 7:00 am to 11:00 am. Check with your municipality to see if trees are picked up and if there is any charge. Wreaths, whether they are real or artificial, must go out in the garbage. Since wreaths are held together with wire and plastic, they can not go through a wood-chipping machine like a real Christmas tree. For further information, call (908) 453-2174.
- New York City Christmas Tree Recycling Schedule - Parks and Recreation to Hold 10th Annual MULCHFEST on January 7th and 8th. The Department will begin its annual Christmas tree collection and recycling program on Wednesday, January 4, 2006. The program will run through Saturday, January 14th. Residents should remove all tree stands, tinsel, lights, and ornaments from holiday trees before they are put out for removal. Trees must not be put into plastic bags. Clean, non-bagged Christmas trees that are left at the curb between Wednesday, January 4th and Saturday, January 14th will be collected, chipped, and then mixed with leaves to make compost. The compost will be processed and subsequently spread upon parks, ball fields, and community gardens throughout the city. The citywide service allows New Yorkers to drop off their holiday trees at designated parks for mulching. All lights, ornaments, and decorations must be removed from the trees prior to drop-off. Participants will be able to take wood chips and/or mulch home from designated chipping sites. For more information on Christmas tree collection and recycling and/or Mulchfest 2006, visit the parks department website or simply call 311.
- Curbside tree recycling collection
(Curbside tree recycling collection information is for the Portland
metro area)- Residents with curbside yard debris collection programs can recycle their trees at the curb. The tree preparation requirements and fees vary throughout the region. For details, call your local solid waste and recycling office, Metro Recycling Information or your garbage hauler. Remove all lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, stands and other materials that are not part of the original tree. Most trees are ground up as part of the recycling process; foreign material can ruin a chipping machine. Also, non-biodegradable materials (metal, glass, etc.) aren't good for a compost mixture. Christmas wreaths and swags can be recycled with trees. Most recyclers ask that all frames and wire be removed. Some groups or businesses do not accept flocked trees.
- Pittsburgh area Christmas Tree Recycling
Saturday, January 14, 2006 10:00 am - 2:00 pm; Construction Junction, 214 N. Lexington Street, Point Breeze section of Pittsburgh, PA. Organized by Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC), the Union Project, the City of Pittsburgh, and Construction Junction and sponsored by Emery Tree Service. $1 fee per tree. Note: Christmas trees must be free of ornaments and loose or tied with a string when dropped off. Absolutely no trees in plastic bags will be accepted. (You can remove the bag when you drop it off). Call Ginette at PRC at (412) 488-7490 for more details. For more information about all sorts of recycling, see their website.
- Lancaster County
- Lancaster County Central Park - Parking lot behind park office on Chesapeake Street, Lancaster PA. Phone: (717) 299-8215. Christmas Trees - $1 per tree donation is requested to support park programs. Mulch is available to the public beginning January 2. December 26 to Jan 15 from Dawn to Dusk
- Martin Mulch Products - 55 Woodcrest Drive, Ephrata PA. Phone: (717) 733-1602. Christmas Trees - $2 per tree
Woody Material (Tree Trimmings, Brush, Shrubs), Yard Waste (Leaves, Grass Clippings, Garden Residue, Sod) . Open: Monday - Saturday, Dawn to Dusk
- Zeager Brothers - 4000 E. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown PA. Phone: (717) 944-7481. Christmas Trees - No charge, Pallets (Wood), Woody Waste (Trees & Trimmings, Brush), Yard Waste (Leaves, Garden Residue). Open: Monday - Friday 6 am to 5 pm Check in at office first.
- Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) has assembled a list of Recycling Drop-Off Centers in Lancaster County as a guideline to individuals interested in recycling materials.
- Albemarle County - The County will operate seven sites. The operation dates will be from December 26, 2005, to January 23, 2006. The hours will be 7:00 AM to dark daily. The sites are:
* Rivanna Solid Waste Authority Recycling Center on McIntire Road
* Crozet Park in Park Drive
* Greenwood Community Center in Greenwood
* Chris Green Lake in Earlysville
* Darden Towe Park in Elks Drive
* Scottsville Community Center in Scottsville
* Walnut Creek Park off Old Lynchburg Road
According to the City Public Works Department the Charlottesville Curbside pick up will be the week of January 9, 2006 (trees need to be at curb side by 7:00 AM). Shortly after that date the City and County Parks Crews will join forces and chip an estimated 2200 trees at Darden Towe Park. Free mulch will be available starting February 1, 2006, at Darden Towe Park. For more information please contact the County Department of Parks and Recreation at (434)296-5844.
- City of Alexandria - City residents who receive trash service must place their trees at the curb (no alley) by 7:00 am on Friday, Jan. 6 or Friday, Jan. 13, 2006 for recycling collection. Depending on the volume of trees, City crews may continue to collect trees on Saturday, Jan. 7, and Saturday, Jan. 14. Any trees set to the curb after Jan. 13 will be collected as regular refuse. Residents should prepare their trees for collection by removing all ornaments, tinsel and stands. No trees should be placed in plastic bags. All trees collected will be turned into mulch and made available at no charge for City residents in the spring. For more information about Christmas tree recycling or spring mulch, call the City's Solid Waste Division at (703) 519-3486.
- City of Fredericksburg - Christmas Tree and Special Bulk Collection Public Works Department crews will collect Christmas trees and special bulk items during the week of January 9, 2006 - January 13, 2006.
- Henrico County - Christmas Tree Recycling, now through Jan. 10, 2006. Bring tree to one of the following locations. Please remove all ornaments, tinsel, lights, screws, nuts, and bolts before recycling your tree.
Western Govt. Center
(4301) E. Parham Road, Lower Parking Lot
Eastern Govt. Center
3820 Nine Mile Road, Front Parking Lot
Springfield Rd. Public Use Area
I-295 and Nuckols Rd.
Charles City Road Public Use Area
2075 Charles City Rd.
Residential customers only. No commercial tree lots.
All other areas of Virginia
- King County has several options for recycling your Christmas tree. Call the King County Solid Waste Division Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, at 206-296-4466 or 1-800-325-6165 (toll-free), ext. 6-4466, TTY Relay: 711.:
All other areas of Washington
Recycling Christmas Trees and Holiday Waste in the United Kingdom
You can recycle Christmas cards at all WH Smith stores, Tesco supermarkets
including some Express stores, TK Maxx and Marks and Spencer as part of The
Woodland Trust's Christmas Card Recycling Scheme. The collection runs from
January 2 to January 30 and aims to recycle 100 million cards across the
London: Recycling your Christmas trees, cards and other Christmas waste and
For more information about recycling and where you can recycle your
Christmas trees, cards, unwanted gifts and other household waste in your local
borough visit the Receycle for London website
, call 0845 3 313131 or text RECYCLE plus your full postcode to 63131
(texts cost 10p plus your normal network text charge).
Cheshire: You can recycle your Christmas tree in the garden waste
containers at Gatewarth Community Recycling Centre, on Gatewarth Industrial
Estate, Barnard Street and Woolston Community Recycling Centre, off New Cut
Lane. The sites are open every day from 8am until 4pm.