Christmas Is Over: Now What Do I Do With My Tree?

Thinking ahead to getting rid of your Christmas tree? Here's how to do it safely and without burning down the house.

Christmas is over, so what do you do your tree?

Don't leave it leaning against the garage until April Fool's Day (it is a fire hazard, after all). Here's what you need to know about recycling those Douglas firs and Scotch pines, as well as how to safetly put away your holiday decorations.

If you live in the city, the city of Birmingham's waste management services will pick up your tree Jan. 2-13. Simply leave your tree on the curb — but don't be surprised if the trash man leaves your tree behind.

According to the city's website, a separate service is used to dispose of Christmas trees, so collection may not be at the same time your trash is picked up.

The trees will be ground into wood chips and compost, so make sure to remove all lights, ornaments, tinsel and tree stands. If you used a bag to catch falling needles while getting the tree out of your house, be sure to recycle that bag or throw it away with your regular trash.

Christmas tree recycling is also available at 11 Oakland County Parks from Dec. 26-Jan. 13, seven days a week, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. All decorationst must also be removed from the tree.

Extended collection dates are available at Independent Oaks in Clarkston and Orion Oaks in Orion Township, which will accept Christmas trees until Jan. 27.

All trees recycled through the county will also be used to make compost and wood chips available free to the public at Orion Oaks County Park in 2013. Plus, if you visit DestinationOakland.com and select "Christmas Tree Recycling," you will receive a free white pine tree seedling in the spring from the Oakland Conservation District.

Fire Department advises residents to recycle tree when it appears dry

Even though Christmas is over, winter is still the worst time for house fires. Remember, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration estimates that there are 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries and more than $1.7 billion in property loss each year due to winter residential fires.

"The longer Christmas trees are in the home, the more they dry out and increasingly become fire hazards," according to a press release by Lorraine Carli, the association's vice president of communications. "Removing the tree from your home and properly disposing of it as soon as possible will minimize the risk of a treasured holiday season becoming a tragic one."

So while you're removing your tree, be sure to follow these safety tips from Birmingham Fire Department and NFPA:

  • Get rid of your tree when it starts to appear dry on a regular basis. Are the needles regularly falling off, even though you water it every day? It's time to pitch it.
  • Remove all decorations with care, especially electric lights. Inspect each string for damage and don't save a damaged set of lights for next year. In fact, wrap each set of lights in plastic bags or around pieces of cardboard. Then, store electrical decorations in a dry place where they can't be damaged by water or pets.
  • Don't delay in taking your tree to the curb or recycling location. These are the safest ways of disposing of your tree. If you have to wait a day until you drive to the nearest recycling center, don't lean old trees against your house or store them in your garage. If the tree is dry, any spark can send it — and your house — into flames.
  • Also, take down those outdoor lights. It might be festive for Christmas in July, but continued exposure to the elements can damage wires, and put your house at risk for fire.


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