Reston, VA

As the holiday season comes to a close and the new year approaches, it may be time to throw out your old Christmas tree and greenery.

Residents of Fairfax County have between Jan. 11 and 22 for recycling Christmas trees. Live Christmas trees of less than eight feet will be collected curbside outside of single family and townhouse communities on regular garbage collection days during the time period.

Residents may schedule a brush pickup for a tree removal after Jan. 22.

Fairfax County residents can also drop off their trees at the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex. There is a $7 recycling fee per tree at the recycling center. All decorations and stands must be separated before disposing of trees.

In the Town of Herndon, Christmas trees will be collected curbside on residents’ individual trash days between Jan. 8 through the 15. The town requests that all decorations be removed from the tree and placed as close to the curb as possible.

The National Christmas Tree Association lists other recycling options as follows:

  • 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.
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