Christmas Tree Disposal

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It is the week after Christmas and the trees are coming down! Figuring out what to do with live Christmas trees after the holidays can be a challenge for many. It is important to take live trees out of the home soon after the holidays. A cut tree that has been in a stand for weeks will begin to take up less water and eventually dry out. A dry tree in the home can be a fire hazard, so finding an appropriate place to dispose of the tree is important.

Instead of filling the landfill with our spent Christmas trees, here are some creative alternatives to dispose of them.

–     Place the Christmas tree in your back yard or garden and redecorate it for the birds! The tree will provide shelter as well as serve a bird feeder if decorated properly. Wild birds, especially cardinals, Carolina chickadees, purple finches and goldfinches prefer sunflower seeds. White millet, a small, round yellowish-white seed, is the second most popular food for wild birds. Other foods that appeal to certain birds include bread crumbs, crackers, cheese, chopped hard-boiled eggs, meal worms, bananas, raisins and grapes. Peanut butter is the most universally favorite food item. Ornaments could include bags of sunflower seeds or mixed seeds and pine cones filled with peanut butter, raisins and bread crumbs.

–     A couple of Christmas trees, properly weighted down in a pond make an excellent refuge and feeding areas for fish. Inquire from owners of local ponds or lake authorities if you may sink your tree into their ponds or lakes to provide a feeding and structure area for fish. Just think, you’ll be creating your own mini Christmas tree reef!

  • Since live Christmas trees are biodegradable, their branches and trunk may be removed, chipped and used as mulch for gardens or flower beds. Christmas tree mulch may also be used for animal bedding.

–     If you would like to use the tree again next year, cut all the limbs off and cut for firewood. This year’s tree can be next year’s “Yule log.”

  • Christmas trees can also be recycled and used for woodworking and other crafts. Woodworking hobbyists can make a multitude of items including buttons and candlesticks from the trunk of a recycled tree.
  • If you do not have birds, a pond, a chipper, or a woodworking hobby and you live in Lee County outside of the Sanford city limits, you may take your Christmas tree to one of the county convenience centers and from there they will be taken to the landfill. Please remove all ornaments and tensile. People in the city limits may leave their trees to be picked up with their garbage.

With other questions regarding plant care and maintenance, contact Minda Daughtry  at 919-775-5624 or by email

Minda Daughtry is Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.