What to do with leftover Christmas trees

What to do with that prickly Christmas tree that’s shedding its needles? Turn it into gardening mulch.

01/02/2013 6:59 PM

01/02/2013 7:01 PM

The presents have been opened and family pictures have been taken. Now it’s time to throw away the trees that filled South Florida living rooms with festive lights and the smell of Christmas.

Rather than putting the tree out with the trash, residents in some parts of Miami-Dade County have the option to turn their tree into mulch. Think of it as a seasonal circle of life. December’s holiday cheer will help nourish spring flowers of the new year.

“It’s good for the environment,” said Miami-Dade Public Works spokesperson Gayle Love. “This is really the best way to manage these trees.”

Residents in unincorporated Miami-Dade County and nine participating municipalities can take their trees to one of the 13 trash and recycling centers or two home chemical collection centers that are open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The trees will be mulched in the middle of January, and the sweet-smelling mulch will be available for free on a first-come-first-serve basis. People must bring their own containers to pick up the mulch.

In Broward, residents may take their trees directly to a participating park where it will be mulched and used for park landscaping.

The “Chip-a-Tree” initiative received more than 9,000 trees last year, and this year will be accepting trees until Jan. 21. Hours vary, so call the park before taking the tree.

In Miami-Dade, more than a hundred trees had been brought to that one center in the past few days, said Miami-Dade spokesman Frank Calderon, speaking from the Eureka recycling center Wednesday. He said total numbers would be hard to predict, but people had been coming in with a tree “every few minutes.”

Trees destined for the mulcher must be free of lights, tinsel and ornaments, Calderon said.

In Miami-Dade County, trees that are chopped up and put in green waste carts or left on the curb will go to the Resource Recovery Facility in Doral to be converted into biomass fuel.

Residents in the City of Miami can leave their trees on the street, separate from regular trash, and the Solid Waste Department will pick them up until Jan. 31. These trees will also be recycled for mulch, which will be available for free at the Virginia Key Mulch Facility.

Even though Christmas is over, come mid-January, the smells of the season will come back, this time in South Florida gardens.

“It’s very fragrant when it’s mulched,” Love said. “It keeps the Christmas spirit alive.”

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