If you have a live tree, don’t throw it away!  Recycled trees can be used for many nature-friendly purposes, such as wildlife sanctuaries and garden mulch. I’m not suggesting that you literally hug your tree (ouch, needles!), but a slightly warm & fuzzy send-off trumps an unceremonious trip to the dump.

How to recycle a Christmas tree

To make it easy to recycle your tree, Waste Manage of Florida offers a curbside tree collection program. For residential areas, curbside tree collection takes place within 2 weeks after Christmas on your regularly scheduled trash pickup day. It’s a good idea to check with your trash collector for official details about your neighborhood. If you live in multi-family complexes, please contact your property manager for proper disposal information. Some counties and mass retailers have free Recycling Drop-Off Centers.

prep tree for recycle pickup

For at-home tree pickup, you will need to prep the tree for recycling by removing all decorations including ornaments, tinsel, and lights. And don’t forget to detach the tree stand, too. Trees that are taller than six feet should be cut in half. Artificial trees and flocked trees with artificial snow cannot be recycled, nor should trees be wrapped in plastic.

Ways to re-use & recycle a Christmas tree

If you have an open yard, your tree could bring joy for months to come as a bird feeder. Stringing safe bird foods on your former Christmas tree will entice birds to relax in your backyard. As a bonus, the branches will serve as shelter. It’s like a Bed & Breakfast for birds. Tip: consider purchasing a rooted tree that can be planted.

This next one is not a do-it-yourself solution, but it’s worth considering, especially for Floridians. Old trees are sometimes used for dune preservation along sandy coastlines. The sand builds up around the tree, allowing conservation groups to plant dune grasses. Contact your local conservation organization(s) to find out how your tree might be used to protect beaches.

Artificial and Flocked trees cannot be recycled

Your tree could also be chipped into mulch. The Florida Christmas Tree Association recommends checking with your local government for information on mulching programs.

Tree cleanup & what not to do

When you have a live tree, you won’t want to wait too long to remove it. As it dries out, the needles begin to drop. To avoid costly damage to your vacuum cleaner, use a broom to sweep it up instead. Of course, it’s really important not to let your tree dry out. This is an unfortunate and common cause of house fires. Dry trees can destroy a home at an accelerated rate. Therefore, it’s important to water your tree daily. But over watering invites water damage and mold growth if you’re not careful. Check for excess moisture and clean (or steam) it up.

DO NOT BURN YOUR TREE. Sorry for the caps, but you want to save your house, right? Evergreen trees don’t belong in your fireplace. Save it for the yule log. Evergreen trees have flammable oils in high amounts and may cause undesired fire damage. Resist the urge of burning a pine tree in your stove or fireplace.

This video, provided by the National Fire Protection Association, shows how much more flammable a dry tree is when compared to one that has been watered regularly.

Interested in learning more about protecting your home from fire? Learn more fire safety tips.