Christmas Trees

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Once the shreds of wrapping paper have been discarded and the left-overs of holiday feasts have been consumed, the focus turns to getting rid of the Christmas tree. Please, DO NOT throw your Real Christmas Tree in the trash! Real Christmas Trees are biodegradable, which means they can be easily reused or recycled for mulch and other purposes. Here are some recycling options and tips on what to do with your tree after the holidays.

Ornaments, stands, lights, artificial trees and wire wreaths are NOT ACCEPTED. Please remove trees from plastic bags. Trees will be chipped and used for compost or mulch.

Carver County Environmental Center

Carver County residents can self-haul their Christmas trees to the Carver County Environmental Center for recycling.  This service is offered year-round at no charge. Visit the Environmental Center page for hours and location.

Private Hauler Curbside Collection

Contact your private refuse hauler to ask if they collect real Christmas trees for recycling.  Some haulers offer this service for free to their customers and some charge a nominal fee ranging from $5.00 to $8.00.  Residents with seasonal curbside yard waste collection typically receive this service at no additional charge.

Cities with Christmas Tree Recycling Programs

The following cities offer no charge Christmas tree recycling options to their residents.


Boy Scout Troop 337 will be collecting Christmas trees door-to-door and delivering them to a compost site on Saturday, January 6th for a fee of $10. This event will help raise funds for the troop’s annual operating expenses and camp scholarships along with providing a service to residents in disposing of their trees properly and conveniently. To take advantage of this service, you must sign up for it by Wednesday, December 27th.

Email Troop 337 at with your name, address, and phone number, and they will provide you with any further details.


Residents can drop off trees at the City of Cologne Public Works garage, 304 Louis St W (roll-off box south of the Cologne City Public Works garage) from December 26th through January 8th.

Mayer and New Germany

Residents can drop off trees at the City of Mayer yard waste site.  Visit the Rural Recycling Drop-Off Site page for hours and location.

Norwood Young America

Residents can drop off trees at the City of NYA yard waste site located at 640 Tacoma Blvd.


Residents can drop off trees at the City of Waconia Public Services Facility located at 310 East 10th Street on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. starting Wednesday, December 27th and ending Friday, January 5th.  The site will also be open to residents on Saturday, December 30th from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.


The Watertown-Mayer High School Ecology Club will be picking up trees curbside.  Please contact the City of Watertown for the date.  Place your tree at the curb by 7 a.m. on that day.  Residents can also drop off trees at the City of Watertown yard waste site located at 700 Lewis Avenue North.

Other Recycling Options

Soil erosion barriers

Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management. Christmas trees even helped the sand dunes in New Jersey recover from Hurricane Sandy!

Fish feeders

Sunk into private fish ponds, trees make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.

Bird feeders

Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter. (Make sure all decorations, hooks, garland and tinsel strands are removed). Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper. See this article from Perdue University for more information.


A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden. If you have a neighbor with a chipper, see if he will chip it for you.

Living, rooted trees

Of course, next year, you could get a rooted (ball and burlap or containerized) tree and then plant it in your yard after Christmas. (It’s a good idea to pre-dig the hole in the late fall while the soil is still soft, then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas.) Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates.

Did you know? Holiday Lights can be recycled too!

Holiday lights can be dropped off at NO CHARGE at the Environmental Center.