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Disposing of your Christmas Tree

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
December 23, 2014        
Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns & Benton Counties

Disposing of Your Christmas Tree
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (12/24/14) — As we finish cleaning up all the wrapping paper, send visiting family on their way, and begin to put away the Christmas decorations, it is important to know all your options for disposing of your real Christmas tree.
One option would be to simply put the tree outside once it is undecorated and all the hooks, lights, and tinsel are removed.  This provides a bird sanctuary, especially for those of you who have bird feeders in the area.  The tree itself can become a bird feeder by placing fresh orange slices or strings of popcorn on the branches.
Other inexpensive options to feed your birds include placing the fat trimmings from your roast or hams in the branches. The fat trimmings essentially are suet; the definition of suet is the hard fat around the kidneys and loins of many animals including cattle, and sheep. Simply place the ‘suet’ in a mesh bag from onions, oranges or like and hang in the tree.  This may not be a good option if you have outdoor dogs or cats.
Of course, the tree will eventually lose its needles and become brittle, at which time you can saw or even break it apart and use the firewood in a campfire, or chip for mulch. Cutting apart into small enough pieces that will fit into your refuse bin is another option. However there are other, more environmentally friendly options to dispose of it that will not land your tree in a landfill.
Another seasonal way to reuse the tree is to trim off the branches and use them in other decorative ways for the rest of the winter months.  Placing these branches in a decorative display outdoors will last for several more weeks if not months. Indoors, depending on how dry your tree has become, the branches could be neatly displayed in a wet foam or vase of water for days or weeks as well. Be watchful of how dry the branches are getting and make sure they are not located near an open flame or heat source.
A final option is to have it picked-up or drop it off at the designated location given by your city, township, or county.  Every community is different but many of these trees are then chipped. The mulch created from chipping is used in city or county parks and trails.  Sometimes the trees are reused in erosion control efforts, or in wildlife habitat building sites.
Regardless of what option you choose, real Christmas trees provide so much delight in the holiday season and can be useful even after they no longer decorate our homes. For more information about how to dispose of your Christmas tree, contact your local municipality.

Below is a list of local cities information that can be included with the article:
Information from St. Cloud Public Works Department:
The Public Works Department has designated Monday, January 5 and Monday, January 12, 2015 for its annual collection of Christmas trees. Residents who wish to use this option are asked to do the following:
• Attach a clear city yard waste bag (green bag is also acceptable) to the tree and make it clearly visible to collection crews. The bag can be tied to a branch or around the lower trunk
• Place the tree in the normal refuse collection area by 6:00 am on pick up date
• Remove all decorations or other attachments. Trees containing metal or cement stands will not be picked up
• Wreaths are not acceptable for recycling because they contain wire
• Questions can be directed to the Public Works Department at (320) 650-2900

Information from City of Sauk Rapids
The City of Sauk Rapids is having a Food Drive.  Bring a canned good donation to the compost site and dispose of your Christmas tree FREE OF CHARGE! Open for tree disposal 10am-2pm January 10th and 17th, 2015.

Information from City of Sartell
Compost site will reopen on January 10th for Christmas tree drop off. Permit required, call city of Sartell for more information 320-253-2171 or visit

Information from City of Waite Park
Curbside pick-up available during the week of January 5-9, 2015.


Beth Berlin
Extension Educator, Horticulture
(320) 255-6169
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