What To Do With Your Christmas Tree When It's Done

By the time New Year's Day rolls around, many people have dismantled their Christmas decorations and packed them up in boxes, and curbsides all over Los Angeles are littered with unwanted trees.

But before you haul your tree outside and hope that someone picks it up, check with your local municipality for the proper procedures on recycling your old tree.

Most services require that your tree be free of lights, ornaments, tinsel, and other decorations to be properly recycled. Very tall trees (generally over 6 feet tall) should be sawed in half and placed beside your green bin if you're not able to dispose of your whole tree inside it.

The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation offers curbside collection of all trees, regardless of size, providing you place your tree inside or next to the city's green bins on collection day.

If you miss the collection day, certain recreation and park locations and fire stations will accept drop-offs on one day only, Sunday, January 5, 2014, from 9 am to 4 pm. Click here for a list of participating parks and fire stations.

If you live outside of Los Angeles proper, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works maintains tree recycling information for incorporated cities within the county, as well as unincorporated cities (those serviced by independent waste haulers) and other unincorporated areas (Acton and Antelope Valley).

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For full-service tree disposal, California Christmas Tree Recycling will come to your house, drain the water stand, remove the tree, vacuum any needles that have dropped on the floor, and take the tree to be recycled. Prices start at $25, depending on the size of the tree, and you can reserve your four-hour appointment slot on their website.

Homeowners with their own wood chippers can also turn their trees into mulch, rather than sending them off to the city's mulching program (which is where the materials in your green bins end up).

Or, upcycle your tree into firewood for your home. You won't be able to use it until the following winter (as it needs time for proper seasoning), but you'll have a great-smelling fire next year as you're decorating your new Christmas tree.

Want to learn more? Click here for our guide on choosing and storing firewood!

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