The day after Christmas and all through the house, nobody knew what to do with the darn apartment tree now that Christmas was over.
When you live in an apartment, you may not have the ability to just drag your old tree to the curb and wait for pick-up.
Whether you have a dumpster, some community trash collection area or indeed can put trash out at the end of a driveway, there are a number of ways for you to safely dispose of your tree after Christmas instead of watching it turn brown in your living room as the calendar changes.
Here are 11 Christmas tree disposal ideas for you as the season winds down.
The easiest thing to do with your tree after Christmas is to take it out to the trash to be collected as recycling. Depending on your rental situation, this may mean hauling it out to the curb, taking it out to your bulk trash pickup area or having some designated tree plan.
If your apartment is in a residential neighborhood and you regularly take your trash to the curb, check with your local city or township for rules, dates and times as to when you're allowed to put your tree out with your normal collection for recycling.
If you live in a building or complex with private or bulk pickup (like a dumpster), ask your landlord or management office what the policy is (or look for a posting on a community bulletin board or in the Facebook group) and when and where you can take your tree to be sent to its final resting place.
But if your apartment or complex doesn't have or doesn't allow drop off of your tree, you have a few options…
Most municipalities have some sort of organized tree drop-off plan. In fact, there are more than 4,000 Christmas tree recycling programs throughout the country, most run by local waste disposal departments. Drop off your tree, drive away and don't look back — unless you want to see your memories given the “Fargo" treatment. It couldn't be more simple.
The idea of hauling your slowly-decaying tree in your personal vehicle to a drop-off site may not sound like fun, but doing it right will minimize the damage and mess. If you can find a bag or box big enough to hold the remains (even if you have to cut it into a few pieces), you will keep pine needles and sap from getting all over and in your car. Then, do the reverse of how you got it home in the first place. Strap it to the roof or toss it in the back. And if none of this is feasible, find a friend that owns a pickup.
Instead of abandoning your tree at a recycle dump like an unwanted child, turn your tree into wonderful mulch. If your apartment has a garden or flowerbed or a landscaped lawn, you can toss O' Tannenbaum into a woodchipper and let your tree live on.
Mulch and chips are great around bushes and small trees where they can help keep moisture in the soil and stave off direct sunlight. And as the chips decompose, the wood releases nutrients into the ground.
Don't have a giant woodchipper lying around your apartment? No problem. Many cities and non-profit organizations offer chipping events where you can have your tree turned into mulch and either take it home or donate it to the local parks and rec department to be used in city parks.
New York's two-day “Mulchfest" is held annually around the city and recycles more than 26,000 trees a year. And in Atlanta, the “Bring One for the Chipper" program is more than 25 years old and shreds more than 100,000 trees annually.
An alternative to schlepping your tree to a recycler or drop off is to dump it in a lake. Believe it or not, you can actually toss your (chemical-free) tree, trunk and branches separately into a pond or lake and the wood will provide shelter for overwintering fish. Discard your tree and help the environment.
Well, not just any lake and not just however you want. First, find a nearby lake or pond and then, contact the municipality where it's located to make sure you're following all local ordinances.
On a much smaller scale, you can also snap off some of the smaller branches and twigs and arrange them in your home or office fish tank to give your fish a new and natural place to hide and chill out. Just be sure the wood is completely clean and dirt free before tanking it.
If you don't have an outdoor space (or fish), you can just upcycle the needles. Before you take your tree to a drop off site, shake a bunch of the needles off into a bag and spread them over the soil in your outdoor spaces or in a flowerbox or planter. The needles break down like mulch and work on balancing out the pH levels in alkaline soil.
The needles can also keep your house smelling sweet all year, as well. Only if your tree's needles are still green and fresh-looking (give them a sniff), strip a bunch of them off and toss them into small paper bags. Stick the bag anywhere you want to smell piney fresh like a closet or catbox area and they'll last a lot longer than you'd expect.
If you're one of the lucky ones to have a fireplace in your rental, congratulations … you have some post-Christmas firewood for the rest of winter. You may not have a woodchipper at your disposal, but someone you know somewhere has a saw or axe if you don't have one. With great care, take your tree to an open space in your complex (ask to make sure you're allowed) or somewhere nearby and start chopping.
Well, not right away. If the wood is still wet, take it away from a water source and let it dry. Wet wood in a fire can cause fires where you don't want them. And if your tree is too dried out, it won't burn properly. It's a fine line. Either way, most Christmas trees are small and slender, so you'll wind up with some good kindling or fire starters.
If you have a backyard spot or community green space, and your tree hasn't been cut or had its root ball damaged, you can actually replant it. If you live in warmer climates, and if your tree didn't get dried out inside your house, especially next to vents or heaters, your tree may have a second life.
And new to the scene are actual companies that will rent you a tree, deliver it for the holiday and then come pick it up and replant it for you. It's like Netflix for Christmas trees (OK, well kinda)!
And believe it or not, you may actually be able to return your tree! No, not for your money back, but in many places, you can drop your tree off back where you bought it. Some large lots and tree farms will take your tree back and recycle or upcycle it themselves. Ask them when you make your purchase if you can return it, or give them a call.
Remember, your tree is made of wood! That means, if you have the requisite skill, you can make the perfect Etsy-level DIY projects from your soon-to-be-former Christmas tree. Try some of these projects, using the trunk, the branches or just the twigs:
Regardless of what you decide to do with your Christmas tree, just know you have options other than dumping it somewhere under the cover of darkness. Or you could always just go with the artificial version and box it back up for next year.