Christmas is over. What should I do with my tree, wreath, or swag?

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Now Christmas is over.








People ask “What’s the best thing to do with my greens?"










I know some avid gardeners and bird enthusiasts suggest taking the tree out and leave it in your yard to provide shelter for wildlife. It sounds good but there may be a problem.


Many evergreens sold in Ohio may not have originated in Ohio. Michigan and Pennsylvania are huge suppliers of Christmas trees and greens to Ohio.











If you actually went and cut your tree from a grower local to your home, leaving the tree out back for the winter may be OK.










If the tree or greens were shipped from elsewhere, there may be a problem. Spotted Lanternfly has infested many parts of Pennsylvania. The potential exists that trees may have a Spotted Lanternfly Egg Mass on the trunk or branches.










If this tree is left in your landscape through winter into spring, these eggs may hatch into nymphs creating an infestation in your own backyard.









Greens including wreaths, swags and roping may have come from Michigan.










At this time, there are 10 counties that have a Box Tree Moth quarantines in Michigan. These moths could be present in boxwood leaves in a larval stage in silk cocoons between the leaves.






Boxwood can also carry Volutella Stem Blight, Boxwood Dieback, and Boxwood Blight. So the potential exists that imported boxwood could contain diseases or insects.










These will emerge in the spring and begin feeding. Leaving greens over winter could be an opportunity to introduce box tree moth to your landscape.







In addition, any evergreens decorations that contain hemlock could potentially harbor Hemlock Elongate Scale 


elongate scale






or Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. 










So, what is the ‘best’ way to recycle your Christmas tree and greens?











Most municipalities offer a tree collection service where trees are brought to a central location












and then run through a chipper.











This process will destroy egg masses. If greens are removed from a metal frame, they can be chipped as well. They compost created from chipped greens and trees can be used as a mulch after composted.










Centerpieces and be placed into plastic bags and placed in a trash container for collection. Some municipalities will also collect individual trees from the tree lawn.


How do you know? Check with your city, village, township, or local county solid waste district to see what is available in your municipality. Most offer this service for free. Some municipalities will even collect these curbside.


A couple of other comments from readers:


We feed our tree to the goats—natural dewormer!









Just read your article on what to do with Christmas trees, etc.  Loved reading it, as I love reading all BYGL articles.

You probably already know this, but in case not, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources uses spent Christmas trees to create fish habitat in lake bottoms, sunk at strategic places using cinder blocks.  It’s an interesting fisheries management approach and I’m assuming no invasive hitchhikers could survive being submerged.


Other ideas for recycling trees:



And remember, purchasing a “Live” tree is good for the environment.







While alive, it sequestered CO2, provided oxygen, habitat for living things and is 100% recyclable!