Many companies, churches, organizations and homeowners have live Christmas trees for the holidays.  Live trees are a personal preference and can add an unmistakable fragrance to your place of business, or home.  However, at the end of the season you can’t just put it back in a box like an artificial tree. You need to consider some viable options to disposing of the tree properly instead of trying to toss it in the garbage, or the nearby woods where it can become a fire hazard later in the year.

There are several options for your live tree:

  1. Recycle- if your area provides curbside recycling pick up for you tree you are all set.  Take advantage of it. The tree is biodegradable and it’s a great source of mulch. If you don’t have curbside options check with your local recycling center and see if they grind your tree up if you drop it off at a local center.
  1. Firewood-use your tree in an outdoor fire pit/fireplace.  Do not burn live trees in an inside fireplace. The creosote in your tree could cause a fire and a lot of smoke inside.  Remove the ornaments and shake it off outside. If you can cut the branches off and then cut the tree into logs. You can burn all of it in your outdoor fireplace or fire pit.  Just make sure you aren’t burning the dried out tree when there is “no burning,” or high winds in your area as burning embers can travel up to a mile. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, or water hose nearby when you burn the tree in sections, not all at once.  
  1. Make Mulch-cut up your tree and spread the mulch in flower/shrub beds, or around your trees.  Pine needles are an excellent source of mulch.
  1.  Volunteer Organizations Collection-in many communities there are volunteer drop off centers for organizations that recycle, mulch, or compost Christmas trees.  Google your city and see if anyone is offering the service.
  1. Compost-use the tree as a base for a new compost pile if you compost.  The branches and evergreens are perfect to build a new compost pile upon.  You can then add in your meal waste, vegetable and fruit scraps to the pile.  Compost is a great fertilizer and planting mix.
  1.  Fish Magnets-People that fish have known the value of a sunken Christmas tree for years.  The trees are a great attraction for Crappie, Bluegill and Bass. Make sure you have permission to put them in your lake.  If you don’t have a lake contact a pond owner in your area, or your local DNR office to see if they would like your tree to attract fish.  Make sure you remove any decorations from the tree. Christmas trees provide excellent forage and breeding spots for fish.

Whatever you do,  please don’t dump a Christmas tree into the woods, or on the side of the road.  While it’s fully biodegradable, landfills are not the place when there are so many other options that can get far more use out of the tree than breaking down in a landfill.  Be sure to vacuum the area where your tree has been when you take it down. Check fabric, rugs, nearby flooring and furniture for sap that has leaked onto them from the tree.  Live trees produce sap despite having been cut down and the sap can spread. Let your tree give back to the environment by being responsible with its disposal.

Mike Watts, President

Pinnacle Environmental Services, Inc.


Images: Vancouver Courier; Eugenivy at www.Unsplash.com

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