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Tips for Christmas tree disposal

up close pine cones on an evergreen tree with snow

Whether you take down your tree before the New Year, or like to enjoy it as long as you can, ensuring safe and appropriate disposal is important. Here are some tips from the Plant Clinic experts at The Morton Arboretum.
  • Dispose of your tree as soon as it shows signs of drying out, because that's when it becomes a fire hazard. Needles will become brittle and start to fall off, and the tree will no longer take up water.
  • You can cut off the branches and lay them over your gardens until spring. They act as a mulch and insulate the plants underneath, and protect the soil from the freezing air. 
  • If you have space in your yard and your neighbors don’t mind, you can leave the tree in your backyard to provide shelter for birds and other animals over the cold days of winter.
  • Arrange to have your tree recycled into mulch or compost to help other trees and plants. Be sure to remove all decorations from the tree. Those not completely cleaned off will go to a landfill instead of being repurposed. 
  • If you use a plastic bag to move your tree out of the house, remove it from the bag once it’s outdoors.
  • Check with your municipality or waste management company to learn its tree recycling or disposal requirements.
  • Never burn your tree in a fireplace or wood stove. It may cause creosote buildup leading to a chimney fire.