Now that Christmas is over, what do you do with your tree?

(Annie Spratt/Unsplash photo)

(The Center Square) — After all the effort of keeping the Christmas tree alive through the holidays, what do you do next with the tree?

Many communities offer Christmas tree disposal as part of garbage pickup, usually within a few weeks of Christmas.

The National Christmas Tree Association says tree recycling programs are a growing trend in many communities. The group recommends checking with the local municipal public works department for detailed information for tree disposal or recycling options.

“They chip and shred the trees, then make the mulch available for use in your garden,” the group says on its website. “Your hauler will notify you of pick-up dates in your area. Be sure to check with your local hauler.”

If your community does not offer Christmas tree disposal or recycling, Richard Hentschel, a horticulturist with the University of Illinois Extension, has some ideas on what to do with the tree.

Hentschel recommends that if you are a gardener, a disposal idea could be to cut the branches off the Christmas tree and use them for mulch in the landscape of your yard. Hentschel also recommends that gardeners can take the tree trunk and use it to support vegetables such as peas or anything else that is “climbing.”

“You can leave the tree whole and tie it to a tree trunk in the yard and make it a station for birds to hide out in during storms,” Hentschel said.

Another idea from Hentschel is to hang strings of popcorn or apples on the tree for animals to enjoy.

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If you have a fire pit, you can always burn your tree. A dry Christmas tree can be dangerous around a fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas tree fires are not common, however, when they do happen, they are more likely to be serious.

The NFPA says dried out trees are a fire hazard. The group advises on their website that trees “should not be left in the house or garage or placed outside against a home.” The organization also recommends bringing in outside electrical lights after the holiday to prevent hazards. Bringing them inside from the elements also can make the lights last longer.

Reporting by Jim Moran

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The Center Square -- formerly known as and the Illinois News Network -- and their reporters represent 18 states across the United States as the taxpayers' watchdog, exposing the way government really works.

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