You're Probably Throwing Out Your Old Christmas Tree The Wrong Way

There are a lot of upsides to decorating your home with a live Christmas tree during the holidays. For one, you don't have to worry about storing an artificial tree for 11 months out of the year. The smell of a fresh evergreen is also hard to beat. Then again, disposing of your tree after the holidays can also be difficult — not to mention messy.

Believe it or not, there's a right way and a wrong way to discard your old tree. For starters, you don't want to leave a dried-out Christmas tree hanging around your house or even near it. "Firs, spruce, pine, cedar and other Christmas tree types all contain a resin that is flammable, especially once the tree has dried out," Karen Stafford, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Prevention Program coordinator told Texas A&M Today. "Live trees in the home present a certain amount of fire danger, but dried trees are much more combustible and present a higher fire risk."

If needles from your tree have fallen all over your floor, don't reach for the vacuum. "It's better to sweep up scattered needles with a broom instead of using a vacuum cleaner, as too many needles can clog it up and possibly cause damage," said Joyce Cavanagh, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist in family and community health.

Consider sustainable alternatives to throwing out your old Christmas tree

If you're planning on dragging your tree to the curb for garbage pickup, Cavanagh recommends putting it in a tree bag or wrapping it in an old blanket or sheet first. "This will help keep the needles and sap from getting on the floor," she said.

There are some greener alternatives for your evergreen, though. Stafford advised finding a local recycling center to shred the tree, or even tossing it into a pond which will create a habitat for aquatic creatures. "Composting is another great way to dispose of your Christmas tree and extend its use," she said. "The branches from your tree make a good base for a compost pile. If you take your tree to a chipper, you can use the resulting mulch in your compost heap. Compost makes great natural fertilizer."

You could also recycle your Christmas tree like home renovation experts Chip and Joanna Gaines do. The Fixer Upper stars feed their leftover tree to their goats. Turning old trees into feed is part of a growing, sustainable trend, reported the Associated Press. If you don't have your own goats, it might be worth checking out local groups and organizations to see if they collect discarded Christmas trees.