How to get rid of your Christmas tree after the holidays

What is Christmas without a beautifully decorated and lighted Christmas tree? A holiday staple everyone loves until Christmas is over.

Now that the presents are unwrapped, the Christmas lights have been turned off and the holiday songs have stopped playing, it’s time to think about what to do next with your tree.

Whether you love your yearly live trees or have had the same artificial one for the past decade, here are some ideas on how you can say goodbye to your dead or fake Christmas tree.

Recycle your live tree

If you opted for a real Christmas tree this year, you could recycle it. The city of Stockton will collect live trees starting Monday, Dec. 26, during regular collection days for three weeks.

Live trees can be set out on the curb. Ornaments, lights, stands and all other decorations must be removed from the tree. If trees are taller than 6 feet, they should be cut in half for easier removal. Flocked live Christmas trees can be placed curbside but they are not recyclable and will be disposed of.

A bovine ornament adorns the San Joaquin Stanislaus CattleWomen's Christmas tree at the annual Festival of Trees at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove in Lodi on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.

Christmas trees will be collected by a “rear-loading truck” and not by the usual garbage trucks that empty wheeled carts. This could be at the same time or at a different time from usual service collections.

“Multiple trees may be set out for collection at one time,” city spokesperson Connie Cochran said via email.

Live trees can still be recycled after Jan. 13 by being cut into smaller pieces and placed in the organics cart with the lid completely closed. Christmas trees left on the curbside after Jan. 13 may be charged an authorized rate for removal for an “on-call bulky item pickup” of approximately “$26.50 per cubic yard,” Cochran said.

“We receive numerous complaints each year, as households place trees curbside after the first two collection days in January,” Cochran said. “Place your live, unflocked trees, with stands, lights, ornaments removed, curbside immediately after Christmas or very early in January, no later than your second collection date in January. Trees must be in sections of 6 feet or smaller.”

For more information, visit:

Dispose of your artificial tree

If you have been using the same artificial tree you store in your garage every year but are ready to get rid of it, you can do that too.

“Artificial trees cannot be placed curbside, as they cannot be recycled. Unfortunately, artificial trees must go into the trash cart (landfill) in sizes that allow the lid to completely close,” Cochran said. “If the artificial tree is too large to place in a trash cart, you may also call your service provider to schedule a curbside collection for a fee.”

Anyone with an artificial flocked or fireproofed tree can set their tree out for disposal starting Dec. 26, for three weeks during regular collection days. They must be inside the trash cart and not left on the curbside.

For more information, visit:

What if I live in an apartment complex? Do these options also apply to me?

The short answer is no. Stockton residents living in apartment complexes need to go through a different process to get rid of their live Christmas trees or artificial Christmas trees.

“Apartment complexes are not included in the residential curbside collection program. Multi-family complex managers may contact their service provider to arrange for a special collection service at no additional charge,” Cochran said.

No curbside pickup? No problem. Live Christmas tree drop-off locations

If you are excluded from the curbside Christmas three collections, you can drop off your live Christmas tree free of charge at the North County Recycling Center and Sanitary Landfill in Lodi or at Lovelace Materials Recovery Facility and Transfer Station in Manteca.

Live Christmas trees will be accepted for recycling starting Dec. 26 through Jan. 15, from 7 am to 4 pm daily.

Trees should have all decorations and stands removed. Flocked trees are not accepted for recycling. Households with more than one live tree are welcome to bring them all at once as there is no tree limit for drop-offs.

locations: North County Recycling Center and Sanitary Landfill at 17720 E. Harney Ln. at Lodi and Lovelace Materials Recovery Facility and Transfer Station at 2323 Lovelace Road in Manteca.

For more information, visit:

Donate artificial Christmas trees to local thrift stores

If you no longer have space for that artificial tree or you no longer want it, you can donate it to one of your local thrift stores. These are some local thrift stores in Stockton that will be accepting artificial Christmas trees after Christmas Day. For other stores call your local shops and ask if they accept donated artificial Christmas trees.

Lodi Junction Too

  • 3702 E Hammer Lane, Stockton
  • Starting Dec 26 donations will be accepted 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday
  • Prefer boxed artificial Christmas trees
  • For more information, call (209) 395-3838

Puffy’s Thrift Mercantile

  • 2210 Pacific Ave., Stockton
  • Starting Jan. 11 donations will be accepted 11 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Saturday
  • Artificial Christmas trees in all conditions will be accepted, some will be re-purposed. Trees in boxes or with no boxes are accepted.
  • Proceeds benefit “The Puffy Project,” which supports local animal rescue organizations.
  • For more information, call (209) 451-4820.

American Cancer Society Discovery Shop

  • 207 E. Alpine Ave., Stockton
  • Starting Jan. 4 artificial Christmas tree donations will be accepted.
  • Christmas decorations will also be accepted.
  • Donations are only accepted by appointment 10:30 am-3 pm Tuesday through Saturday. For an appointment or more information, call (209) 941-2737.

Plant potted live Christmas trees

If you decided to go the environmentally-friendly route with your Christmas tree by getting a potted one, then why not re-plant your tree in your own backyard?

“We strongly encourage those who purchase a live tree in a container to replant the tree at home to strengthen and expand the number of trees, help improve air quality and provide shade during hot weather,” Cochran said.

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