Here’s How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

With Christmas Day behind us, residents can recycle their Christmas trees. According to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, it’s best to dispose of trees when they get dry due to the risk of fires.

Fairfax County collects trees for recycling in the first two weeks of January — so long as they are less than eight feet tall. Residents with private collection services should consult with the collecting companies.

The National Christmas Tree Association encourages residents to recycle Christmas trees — which are biodegradable:

Soil erosion barriers: Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management.

Fish feeders: Sunk into private fish ponds, trees make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.

Bird feeders: Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter. (Make sure all decorations, hooks, garland and tinsel strands are removed).  Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper.

Mulch: A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden.

Paths for hiking trails: Some counties use shredded trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers.

Living, rooted trees: Get a rooted (ball and burlap or containerized) tree and plant it in your yard. (It’s a good idea to dig the hole in the late fall while the soil is still soft, then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas.) Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates.  

Residents can also recycle trees at the I-66 Transfer Station, which requires a $7 fee per tree. All ornaments, decorations, and stands must be removed prior to disposal. Artificial trees can be brought to a donation station.

File photo

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