How to Dispose of a Christmas Tree

Three Methods:Checking Local Disposal OptionsRepurposing Your TreeDisposing Your Tree as Normal Waste

As fun as it is to pick out the Christmas tree, it’s a lot less exciting trying to figure out what to do with it once the holidays are over. Between all the cleanup and exertion to get the tree out of your house, it can be a real hassle to finally be done with it. Luckily, there are many different ways your Christmas tree can be removed and put to good use after the all presents underneath it have been opened.

Method 1
Checking Local Disposal Options

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    Remove all decorations from the tree. Before you dispose your tree, you have to remove all decorations and trappings on the tree. This includes any tree skirts, ornaments, lights, garland, tinsel, and ornament hooks.[1] Once your tree is back to its natural state, consider putting a large tree bag over the tree to keep everything contained until you figure out how you’re going to dispose it.
    • It’s better to not let your tree get too dry before you dispose it. That’s because dry trees are fire hazards, since they burn so quickly.[2] Dry trees are also more of a hassle to clean up since dead pine needles fall off more readily.
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    Check with your local yard waste management department. Some communities provide specific yard waste pickup services along with normal garbage pickup services. If you live in a community that provides this yard waste service, call or check online to find out the details about their Christmas tree pickup service.[3]
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    Contact your local sanitation or waste management department. Some waste management units will offer Christmas tree pickup services during normal collection schedules or a couple weeks following the Christmas season.[4] Call or search online to contact your local waste management unit and ask about their practices and policies regarding Christmas tree collection.
    • Oftentimes, curbside pickup is available, where all you have to do is leave your tree on your curb, or where your garbage is collected. When trees are collected, they are often chopped down and chipped into mulch.[5]
    • This mulch sometimes goes to enhance public areas, but it’s a possibility that you may be able to pick up some mulch for your own gardening needs.
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    Check local recycling centers. Most recycling centers offer Christmas tree drop off services, where you can bring and leave your tree to be recycled.[6] This is similar to the services your local waste management unit may provide, but not all communities have that waste management pickup option. To see services provided by local recycling centers, simply call or search online for further details.
    • Most times, Christmas trees will be chipped into mulch (which again, you can most likely take home with you) that is normally used for public outdoor areas, parks, or erosion barriers for various water shorelines.[7]
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    Drop your tree off at a tree collecting non-profit organization. Search online and call some local non-profit organizations to inquire about any Christmas tree collecting initiatives. Some common organizations that hold collection programs are home department stores and certain boy and girl scouts chapters, but more options can be found online.[8]
    • Usually these services are free, but even though these are non-profit organizations, a small donation may sometimes be encouraged.[9]
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    Search for paid pickup services. There are some companies that specialize in delivering Christmas trees for the holiday season, but there are also some companies that can pick up your tree once you’re finished with it.[10] Search the internet for local companies that can stop by and take your tree away for you. Sometimes, the companies that deliver the Christmas trees also have a pickup service.
    • The pickup fee is usually based on the size of the tree.[11]
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    Check with local fire stations for drop off options. In some areas, local fire stations accept dropped off Christmas trees after the holiday season.[12] The drop off period can extend a few weeks into the New Year. Normally, the trees accepted get sent to be mulched and recycled.[13]
    • Any trees that are dropped off, need to be in their original state without decorations and ornaments.

Method 2
Repurposing Your Tree

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    Convert your tree into a bird feeder. Secure your tree in your backyard for birds and other creatures to use as a feeding spot.[14] Your leftover Christmas tree could also provide small animals with shelter.
    • 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.[15]
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    Donate your tree to the local forest preserve. Some forest preserves accept Christmas trees after the holidays. Donated trees are sometimes used for mulch around natural areas, planted for artificial habitat, or used in bodies of water as fish structures.[16]
    • Since most of the bodies of water and lakes in forest preserves are man made, fish don’t have structures to hide from predators at the bottom of the lake.[17] The Christmas trees at the bottom of the lake help diversify the aquatic ecosystems within the forest preserve.
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    Do arts and crafts with leftover pieces. Cut off some of the more hydrated branches of the tree, and bind them into a wreath that can be hung on your door, used as a winter centerpiece, or wrapped around the bottom of candles.[18]
    • If you have an essential oil extractor, you can try to extract the oils and scents from the pine needles to make a wintery air freshener.[19]

Method 3
Disposing Your Tree as Normal Waste

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    Remove all decorations from the tree. Before your tree can be thrown out, all ornaments, garland, tinsel, lights, and other decorations must be removed.[20] When the tree is back to it’s original and natural state, you can bring the tree outside.
    • Try to get rid of your tree before it starts to get really dry. Dry Christmas trees shed pine needles everywhere, but they’re also dangerous because they are highly flammable.[21]
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    Cut the tree into smaller sections. Cut your tree into smaller pieces. These tree portions normally need to be into pieces at most, four feet long.[22] This makes for easier pickup for the people who come to collect your trash.
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    Set out the tree for collection. If you’re community doesn’t have a recycling waste system or a yard waste system, you can dispose of your tree as you would with your normal trash. When your tree has been cut down into smaller pieces, place the pieces into your yard waste bin, recycling bin, or garbage bin.[23] Usually, the bin lid has to be able to completely close with the tree inside.
    • There are some communities where you may be charged a fee for not recycling your Christmas tree, so keep that in mind along with other options of disposing your tree.[24]


  • Many artificial trees can look as good as real trees and can be used year after year.
  • Add water to your tree to prolong it’s life.


  • Flocked and fake trees will not be accepted for recycling programs.
  • Dried out trees are a dangerous fire hazard and should be disposed of immediately.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Christmas Trees