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Say goodbye to Christmas trees

With the holiday season coming to a close, Suffolk residents can leave their Christmas trees on the curb to be handled like normal debris.

The city began picking up Christmas trees from residents on Dec. 26, and it will continue to offer the service until Jan. 5.

To have a Christmas tree picked up, it needs to be left curbside like normal debris. This pickup will not count against the 12 free bulk pickups the city allows per residence, but that only applies for the two-week time period allotted. Any trees left out after Jan. 5 will still be collected, but they will count against the number of free special collections.

Along with Christmas trees, the city will also collect any Christmas boxes as a part of the special collection.

After the debris is collected, the trees will be delivered to the Southeastern Public Service Authority. Once with SPSA, they will be disposed of by any means SPSA determines, according to L.J. Hansen, the assistant director of public works.

SPSA can take the debris to the landfill or take it to the Wheelabrator Portsmouth, a waste-to-energy facility.

In Isle of Wight County, residents can take their tree to any of the county’s refuse and recycling centers after clearing it of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. The trees will be composted.

In Chesapeake, residents can place their tree outside to be collected and mulched or composted. It should be placed separately from bulk waste and regular trash, without a bag or netting around it.

If you don’t want to toss your tree, there are a lot of other ways to “spruce” up your yard by giving your old Christmas tree a second life. The website thisoldhouse.com lists some ways to reuse the Christmas tree:

  • Mulch the entire tree and use the mulch throughout the year.
  • Create a bird sanctuary: Prop up the tree outdoors and fill bird feeders and hang them from the boughs, or drape the tree with a swag of pinecones coated in peanut butter.
  • Cut off boughs and lay them over perennial beds to protect them from snow.
  • Cut the trunk into 2-inch discs and set them into the soil to edge flower beds or walkways.
  • If you have a pond, and your tree is chemical-free, toss it into the water to provide habitat for fish.
  • If you have wooded area on your property, carry out into the woods and lay it down for wildlife habitat.
  • Saw the trunk into different lengths and use the pieces as flowerpot risers for a dramatic group display.
  • Make coasters and trivets: Cut thin slabs off the trunk, sand them smooth and apply a thin coat of polyurethane to keep the sap sealed in.
  • Rent a chipper — see if your neighbors will help split the cost. Use the wood chips under your shrubs next spring.
  • Strip small branches and use the remaining twigs to support indoor potted plants or stake seedlings.

Before taking your tree outside, remember to remove all lights, tree stands and decorations, including tinsel, ornaments and wires, according to AskHRgreen.org. Painted trees or those covered in fake snow shouldn’t be left outside, as these materials could be harmful to animals.

As for unwanted decorations, most do not belong in your curbside recycling container. Consider donating unwanted but working ornaments and decorations to a local school or thrift store, according to AskHRgreen.org.