The holiday season is ending, and it’s time to take down the Christmas decorations. If you have a live Christmas tree, you must dispose of it in Louisville properly. Live trees can’t simply be left on the curb for normal garbage pickup. The city has specific guidelines for Christmas tree disposal to keep our neighborhoods clean and safe.
Here is everything you need to know about how to dispose of your live Christmas tree in Louisville
Louisville offers a few different options for Christmas tree disposal. You can drop your tree off at a designated location or have it picked up curbside on your designated collection day.
Curbside Pickup Curbside Christmas tree pickup will occur over two weeks:
- January 2-13, 2023 for residents east of Dixie Highway
- January 9-20, 2023 for residents west of Dixie Highway
Residents should leave trees curbside on their normal yard waste collection day during these periods. Remove all decorations, lights, stands, and plastic bags. Trees over six feet tall should be cut in half.
Drop-Off Locations You can also bring Christmas trees to several Metro Public Works drop-off locations from December 26 to January 31. Drop-off is free for Jefferson County residents. Locations include:
- East District Public Works (10500 Lower River Road)
- South District Public Works (6101 Strawberry Lane)
- Fleet & Facilities (600 Meriwether Avenue)
Holiday trees will be recycled into mulch and other products. Please do not dispose of trees in ponds, rivers or by burning them, as this can create safety and environmental hazards.
If you miss curbside pickup or want other disposal alternatives, here are some options:
- Request special pickup from Metro Call at 311 or 574-5000 for a $20 fee (outside normal pickup).
- Take your Christmas tree to a private composting or recycling facility for a small fee.
- Some stores like Home Depot may accept trees seasonally for recycling. Call ahead to check availability.
- Safely dispose of the tree yourself by chipping it with a wood chipper.
- Use the tree as a bird habitat or fish attractor by sinking it into a pond. Remove all decorations first.
Christmas Tree Recycling
Recycling your live Christmas tree is the most eco-friendly disposal method. Metro Public Works uses the trees in a variety of sustainable ways:
Chipping for Mulch: Most collected trees are sent through a wood chipper to be shredded into mulch. The mulch is free to Louisville residents and can be picked up at drop-off locations starting in early spring.
Habitat Creation Christmas trees placed in bodies of water provide habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures. They give small organisms places to feed and hide from predators. Make sure to remove all decorations if using this disposal method.
Soil Erosion Control Whole pine trees may be anchored along waterways as a natural way to control erosion of riverbanks and shorelines. Their root balls help stabilize the soil.
Composting Chipped trees and other organic materials like leaves and grass clippings can be composted. Compost is a rich, natural fertilizer for gardens.
Fuel In some facilities shredded Christmas trees are burned to generate fuel and electricity. This energy recovery produces less emissions than letting trees decompose.
Safety Tips for Disposal
When disposing of your Christmas tree, keep these important safety considerations in mind:
- Remove all lights, ornaments, tinsel, and other decor first. These can damage equipment.
- Don’t try to burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace. It poses a serious fire hazard as it quickly ignites.
- Never leave trees on the curb outside the scheduled pickup periods, or they could block roads.
- Too early, trees left on the curb can obstruct sidewalks and become fire hazards.
- Make sure to cut extra tall trees in half before setting them out for curbside pickup.
- Always turn lights off and unplug before removing them from the tree to avoid shocks.
- Use caution when transporting trees, as they can damage vehicles and obstruct rear views.
- Remove any tree stands, nails, wires, and plastic bags before disposal.
By taking advantage of Louisville’s Christmas tree recycling program, you help give trees new life in the community. It keeps them out of crowded landfills and reduces tree waste. Your efforts contribute to a greener city that promotes sustainability.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What if my tree is over 6 feet tall? Trees over 6 feet tall should be cut in half before placing curbside for pickup. Cut somewhere in the middle of the trunk. Both pieces can be placed roadside together.
- When should I put my tree on the curb? Please do not place your Christmas tree curbside too early, or it could become a traffic hazard and fire danger. Follow the scheduled pickup dates for your area.
- Can I put my tree out in a plastic bag? Remove any plastic bags, stands, wires, ornaments, and lights before curbside pickup. Christmas trees are processed through a chipper so that plastic can damage equipment.
- What if my tree has fake snow or flocking on it? Fake snow sprays and artificial flocking also pose issues for the tree chipper. As much as possible, remove these materials by shaking the branches over a tarp before disposal.
- What if I miss the curbside pickup period? If you miss your scheduled curbside pickup date, call Metro311 to request a particular $20 tree pickup or deliver it to a drop-off site before January 31. Fees may apply at private disposal sites.
- Can I bring a Christmas tree from outside Jefferson County? No. Drop-off sites will only accept trees from Jefferson County residents. Those outside the county should contact their waste management department.
- What if I live in an apartment building? Talk to your property manager about the pickup process. In some cases, drop-off may be required rather than curbside pickup. Plan so your tree can be properly disposed of.
- Can I burn my Christmas tree in my backyard? No, it’s illegal to burn yard waste in Louisville openly. Christmas trees dry out quickly after holiday use, creating dangerous fires if burned. Safely dispose of your tree instead.
- What if I still have questions? Contact Metro311 by phone, online chat or the mobile app if you have any other questions about properly disposing of your live Christmas tree this year.
The Public Works department wishes you a happy and safe holiday. By properly disposing of live Christmas trees through recycling, we can continue improving our environment in Louisville and enriching the soil for years to come. It’s a small extra effort that makes a significant impact. Have a green holiday season and a happy New Year!