The tree was lovely.
It twinkled and glittered all during the holidays. Helping the kids hang beloved decorations on it was a highlight of the season, as was stacking colorfully wrapped gifts beneath it. Its gentle, sentimental beauty kept you company during the last few weeks, but now that January is underway, it's time to say goodbye.
Get the Tree Out of the House!
Remove all decorations and lights and pack them carefully for next year. Loosen the screws or other apparatus used to secure the tree trunk in the stand and carefully lift the tree from the stand. Check the water level first and take care not to slosh too much on the floor.
If you have an old sheet or tarp, use it to wrap around the tree and to drag it from the house. This will minimize the amount of needles you will have to sweep up later. You may be fortunate to have a spot for the tree near an outside door. Take advantage of this egress even if it means dragging the tree through the yard to the other side of the house. Dropped pine needles and sticky sap are no problem out of doors. Indoors, they are a headache.
Means of DisposalYour town may collect spent trees at the curb. They either deposit them in a landfill or -- far better -- mulch them for later use. The mulch is used by the town's department of public works for parks and green spaces. Come spring, many municipalities open the mulching center to residents for a small fee, or no fee at all.
Keep an eye on the town’s online calendar or local newspaper listings for the dates of the pickups. Most towns and cities set aside a week for curbside collection. Many won't accept trees wrapped in plastic, so if you use it to remove the tree from the house, take it off the tree.
If you own a sizable piece of land, consider dragging the tree to a wooded area. It won’t take long for it to decompose and in the meantime, it will be a home to birds and small creatures. Only do this if you own the land or have made arrangements with a neighbor. Town-owned green spaces are not the place for your rotting Christmas tree!
Some people toss Christmas trees in lakes where they settle on the bottom and provide hiding places for fish. Check with the town or wildlife warden before using a lake as dumping ground.
If you have a wood chipper, run the tree through it and use the chips as mulch for your garden or to make pathways.
Whatever you do, don’t chop up the tree to burn in a fireplace or wood stove. There is too much resin in pine to make it appropriate firewood.
Once the tree is out of the house and properly disposed, store the Christmas finery until next year. This year's tree will live on in photos and videos. When next year rolls around, the tree you select will be just as beautiful. Maybe more so!