Second Lives for Christmas Trees

By Krista Pfunder  

After a holiday season that saw a 20 percent rise in natural Christmas tree sales, many are now wondering what exactly we are to do with the greenery now that January is upon us. 

(Yes, now is the time to get the tree out of your home or business, especially if it is dropping needles. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home, garage or placed outdoors against the home.) 

Your old Tannebaum can be used in your yard to help feathered neighbors. Discarded evergreens provide protection for birds, a place to shelter from the cold and wind.  

To turn your boughs—even if they have already turned brown—into a haven for birds, first remove the decorations and lights. Then place the tree on its side and pile up other greenery around in your yard. 

If you know someone with livestock, ask about taking your tree to their farm for their goats or pigs to munch on. Many animals like to especially snack on pine. 

Other options include taking your tree to a recycling center, where the trees are chipped into mulch. Some localities will pick up trees during curbside pickup, see below for details. 

Anne Arundel County 

Before placing your tree at the curb or dropping off at the recycling center, be sure to: remove tree stand, metal ornament hangers and all decorations, including lights tinsel and garland. Large trees should be cut in half so they can fit in the truck. Christmas trees will be collected during your usual scheduled time and should be at the curb by 6 a.m. 

Christmas trees can also be brought to a county recycling center to be included with yard waste. You can also recycle wrapping paper, tissue paper, greeting cards, seasonal advertisements, gift catalogs, gift boxes, cardboard boxes, junk mail, soft and hard cover books, newspaper, phone books and magazines. 

For more information, call 410-222-6100. (

Calvert County 

Before dropping off live Christmas trees, wreaths and garland, be sure to 

remove all decorations, support frames, lights and metal stands. Live trees, wreaths and garlands may not be in plastic bags. Live Christmas trees, wreaths and garland are accepted at county convenience centers for recycling at no charge through January 31. After that, all greenery must be brought to the Appeal Landfill and standard yard waste fees will apply. 

Other holiday items that can be recycled include wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, holiday cards and other paper. Cardboard boxes should be flattened and recycled. All packing materials, ribbons and Styrofoam must be removed from boxes for trash disposal. Artificial trees, wreaths, and garlands are not recyclable. For more info, call 410-326-0210. (