If your plan is to simply get rid of the Christmas tree, or if your only option is to dispose of the tree, Rumpke makes it easy to get rid of your tree.
- Artificial trees cannot be recycled or composted.
- For real and artificial trees, please remove all tinsel, ribbons, Christmas lights, and other decorations.
- For trees longer than 6 feet, please cut it into smaller pieces, bundle it, and place it curbside the night before your regular collection day.*
In some areas, composting options are available for retired, live Christmas trees. You can find the most accurate information for your community by checking with your county’s solid waste management district. Many districts offer free yard waste and tree drop-off stations. You can also check with your local municipal offices.
*Unless specialized tree collection, composting or disposal is required by local legislation. Please remember to check with your municipality for clarification.
Normal Trash Pickup
If you don’t have a separate yard waste collection service, Rumpke will pick up your tree on trash day. In most cases, your local waste and recycling service will pick up the Christmas tree as household waste.
Yard Waste Collection Service
Some municipalities partner with Rumpke to offer a separate yard waste collection service to collect organic material. Contact Rumpke for specific details on yard waste collection in your neighborhood.
Some cities and stores have tree collection events. Check your city listing, or contact your local stores to check the event dates.
Some nonprofit organizations collect Christmas trees. You can call and set up an appointment to have them take your tree. Boy Scouts, for instance, offer tree pickup services for a small donation (usually $5). Check in with your local scout pack.
How to Prepare Your Real Christmas Tree
If you don’t prepare your Christmas tree for disposal, you risk the tree not getting collected! Please follow the disposal guidelines of the collection service to ensure your items are picked up. Here are Rumpke’s guidelines for Christmas tree disposal services:
- Do not use plastic removal bags or skirts.
Remove all the ornaments, tinsel, icicles, lights and any other decorations from the tree before taking it outside. One of the most common leftovers is icicles, so do your best to remove most of the icicles and store them for the next Christmas season.
Avoid Using Chemicals
If you want to compost your Christmas tree, avoid using adhesive materials like flocking spray for decoration. Most of these sprays are made up of chemicals that make the tree non-compostable.
Cut the Tree
Large trees, typically longer than 6 feet, won’t fit in the truck. Expect to cut it into smaller pieces and bundle it before placing it on the curb.
Do Not Use Plastic Removal Bags or “Skirts”
Do not use a plastic Christmas tree removal bag or “skirt” if you plan to compost your tree. This is a composting impediment. Instead, wrap the tree in a tarp before moving it to the curb to avoid shedding its needles all over the floor. Remove the tarp at the curb and reuse.
Disposing Artificial Christmas Trees
Artificial trees cannot be recycled or composted. Rumpke customers should break down artificial trees and dispose of them with their other curbside waste.
Give Your Real Christmas Tree Another Life
A real Christmas tree is the gift that keeps on giving…if you give it the chance.
Strategically placing them in certain areas can be beneficial for the environment while they decompose.
For example, every year, many trees are donated to be used as barriers to help slow down soil erosion on beaches, rivers and hiking trails. Likewise, many trees are strategically placed to provide habitat for wildlife, especially fish.
You can transfer your Christmas tree to the backyard or garden and use it as a bird sanctuary and feeder. Your typical spruce or fir provides sanctuary to many animals, especially to small birds. Place the tree in a location of your choice and scatter some bird seeds throughout the tree. Sit patiently, and you’ll soon notice birds using the tree for food and shelter.
Turning your Christmas tree into mulch is an excellent option. Mulch from evergreens helps soil retain moisture, prevents weeds from spreading, and provides a level of acidity to the soil that helps optimize the PH for certain shrub and plant species.
Community Mulch Projects
Chip the tree yourself, or turn it into a community project. Some communities and groups host a local tree composting event where they accept donated trees and return them to the community as mulch. This is a great option for community gardens and neighborhood beautification efforts. If your community doesn’t have such an event, consider starting one.
Real Christmas trees make excellent wildlife habitat, especially for fish. Follow these steps to make a nice piece of fishing cover:
- Create openings. If the tree doesn’t have any natural bare spots or is very dense, then cut a few openings that fish can use to hide in.
- Add weight. Tie on enough cylinder blocks or bricks to help the tree sink and anchor itself to the bottom.
- Select a location, drop the tree, and be sure to mark the location. Be sure to check with the pond or lake’s owner before placing your tree in it.
Soil Erosion Barriers
Christmas trees are used by some communities to create sand and soil erosion barriers. Evergreens can help stabilize topographical features such as shorelines, beaches, river banks, and even hiking and biking trails. If you live near the coast or a river, check with your local municipality for any shoreline management program that accepts trees.
DIY Craft Projects
Christmas trees can also be used for fun DIY projects. Spend your holiday time making crafts and holiday gifts for friends and family. Check out our list below for some ideas.
Wood Slice Coasters
Making wooden coasters is a simple and rewarding DIY project. The trunk of your Christmas tree is the perfect size to slice into beautiful wooden coasters.
Grab your hand saw, some sandpaper and clear varnish. Use the saw to cut sections of the trunk into about half-inch thick pieces. Sand the sections with heavy grit sandpaper followed by finer grit to smooth out the surfaces. Leave the edges. Finish by coating the entire piece with clear varnish and wait for it to dry.
Wood Pallet Plaques
You can cut your Christmas tree into flat boards and use them to make plaques. These can be great for hanging photos or even gifting for friends and family. Interested? Check out the step-by-step guide.
Rudolph Christmas Ornament
Similar to creating wooden coasters, you can create a dazzling ornament of Santa’s favorite reindeer: Rudolph. Slice the trunk of your tree into quarter-inch thick pieces, and get together your glue, glitter, string, paint and markers.