Don’t Trash that Tree! Recycle It Instead


One of the most iconic symbols of Christmas may be sitting in your home.  Perhaps it is artificial?  Or maybe yours is fresh?  People, I am talking about Christmas trees!

Christmas tree

Christmas tree

Every year, between 25 – 30 million fresh (real) trees are sold according to the National Christmas Tree Association.  That equates to a lot of potential landfill waste.  But before you set your tree out at the curb, consider another option.

For starters, did you know that there are over 4,000 Christmas Tree  recycling programs across the United States?  Many of them are hosted at the community level, such as by the city forestry or parks department.  Some counties also host their own tree recycling program.  Residents are notified (typically) in several formats, such as by newspaper articles, inserts in local utility bills, radio spots, and even hosted on city websites.  City hosted programs often involve offering several drop-off sites around the community for a set period of time (generally around two – three weeks).  The trees are then collected and taken to a facility where they are chipped into mulch.  (Cities often post announcements asking that the trees be free of any decorations… so remove all of those ornaments, lights, hooks, and tinsel.)

As a side note, fresh evergreen garland or wreaths are usually not accepted at the fresh Christmas Tree recycling locations.  This is primarily due to the fact that wreaths are generally constructed on wire frames.  Fresh garlands are made up of small evergreen branches that are bound together with wire.  In either case, the wire prohibits these items from being chipped into mulch.

Once the trees are turned into mulch, cities  determine how the mulch is to be used.  Some use the mulch in garden beds around around town, saving tax payer dollars on a yearly landscape expense.  Other cities opt to provide the mulch back to the citizens of the community, often for free or at a minimal cost.  This mulch is great for your ornamental garden beds.  Not only is the mulch attractive, but is also helps retain moisture in the soil, and helps suppress weeds if applied in a thick enough layer.

So friends, once your fresh tree has served its purpose as a decoration in your home, consider recycling it.  Your tree can provide you the gift of mulch.


8 responses »

  1. We have a tree/yard waste recycle program in our town– but this is what we do. We cut the branches off and place them at the bottom of the rose & blueberry bushes. This keeps the ground warm around them and the decaying pine is very good for the bushes. Trunk pieces are left to dry for the outdoor fire pit (the ashes saved for the garden). In the spring any branches left around the bushes are either chipped into mulch for said bushes or placed in the recycle can. Using the tree in this way helps us get more for our money, improves the soil, and is a good for the environment as a cut tree can be.

    • We tend to keep our tree and just like you, remove the branches, and allow them to dry. The truck is then cut into lengths. After the wood is cured, we then burn the logs in our outdoor fire pit. The branches are either chipped for mulch or we use them as fire start for our fire pit.

  2. That is such a good idea! [Our local council doesn’t offer such a service]
    As we celebrate Christmas in summer our trees have always been left to dry out and become kindling for the first winter fires. Hope you had a grand Christmas Robbie 🙂

  3. I’ve also heard of people using their Christmas tree for a bird feeder and shelter during the winter. This would be an option if you have your own chipper, or a local place that accepts yard waste.

    • We have recycled our trees through the local city program, but we also have a chipper… so we could chip it ourselves. And yes, using the tree as shelter and feeder for birds is another great idea.

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