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How to properly dispose of Christmas trees

  • 1/5/2023 1:50:00 PM
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If there are more pine needles on the floor than on the tree, it might be time to think about disposing of the Christmas tree. 

When that time comes, there are a few ways to properly (and sustainably) get that live tree back outdoors.

One common way is to drag the tree out to the curb. Before doing that, though, check with your city to see if it requires a compost tag (available at most grocery stores). Residents can also call their cities to see if they have a recycling program that can keep the tree useful in different forms, like wood chips or mulch. 

Make sure the tree is free of ornaments, tinsel, or other decorations before bringing it outside.

Live trees can also become temporary habitat for birds and other critters in a backyard or private pasture area. A tree with a few concrete blocks attached on the ice of a pond owned by the resident can become a habitat for fish when it drops in the water by the spring.

“Once you put them outdoors, the trees will stay somewhat green until spring,” said Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Forester Jeff Goerndt.

There are a few things you shouldn’t do. One is to never chop up the tree and use the wood in an indoor fireplace. 

“Christmas trees can be almost explosive when they burn, and can cause creosote build up in your chimney,” Goerndt said.

Residents also should not put trees anywhere, in yards or ponds, without permission from the landowner.