With the holidays behind us, the 30 million Christmas trees that had their time to shine, glow, and stand over presents all season need a place to go. To anyone who has had an emergence of praying mantises in their living room, it comes as no surprise that live Christmas trees can easily harbor insects, some of them invasive. Gypsy moth and spotted lanternfly, for example, often lay their egg masses on tree trunks. Proper disposal of Christmas trees is critical in case your tree is carrying one last unwanted gift.
Considered the best option for Christmas tree disposal, many towns, cities, or counties offer tree recycling programs. This often includes curbside pickup or drop-off locations and hours. If using curbside pickup, be sure you leave your tree out during the set period of the tree recycling program for your area. Drop-off locations can be affiliated with a number of organizations and are often easy to find if googling “Christmas tree recycling” in addition to the name of your town/city. Another idea is to check local parks or natural resource management areas. Wake County Parks, for example, mulch trees for their trails. With any of these recycling programs, be sure the tree is non-decorated, with all lights and ornaments removed! If a tree recycling program is unavailable, then dropping your tree off at your local waste facility is also a good measure.
Getting one last glow from your Christmas tree may be a family pastime and using a tree as bonfire fuel is okay if local laws allow. Word to the wise, this fire should be done outside. The sap from a fresh Christmas tree may create a fire hazard in the chimney or vent piping of a fireplace or wood stove. Also, if you do decide to burn it, do it quickly. Setting the tree in a brush pile for later burning may give inactive pests time to emerge and invade new areas.
However you decide to dispose of your Christmas tree, do it safely to ensure the best health for our forests. After all, we’ll need those forests next year, when it’s once again time to deck the halls.