Post-Christmas 2017 Tree Recycling in Eastern NC

Donated Christmas trees used to create fish habitat. Photo: courtesy photo, US Army Corps of Engineers, Arkansas
Donated Christmas trees used to create fish habitat. Photo: courtesy photo, US Army Corps of Engineers, Arkansas

By Kay Whatley, Editor

Announcements from Eastern North Carolina counties, cities, and towns regarding where your “used” Christmas trees will be accepted. Listed locations are in the five-county area and beyond. In addition to landfill, trees may be used as compost, mulch, and wildlife shelter.

If you’re not planning to take your tree, but to instead use it to support wildlife in your own backyard, check out this blog post by the National Wildlife Federation on re-using Christmas trees.

City of Fayetteville

The City of Fayetteville will collect live Christmas trees from Fayetteville city residents in a special tree pickup beginning Monday, January 8, 2018.  Pickups are separate from yard waste, trash or recycle pickups and city residents should put their trees out for curbside collection by the morning of January 8.  All lights, stands and trimmings should be removed from the tree. Residents who live outside the city, or miss the pickup, may drop off trees at the Fayetteville Community Garden, located at the corner of Van Story and Mann Street just off Old Wilmington Road  any day before January 13.    PWC and DEP volunteers will grind them into mulch at the Grinding of the Greens.

The 24th-annual “Grinding of the Greens” live Christmas Tree Recycling program continues the Fayetteville holiday tradition of protecting  and enhancing our environment.  This event will be at Fayetteville Community Garden on January 13, 2018, beginning at 8:30am. Grinding of the Greens encourages Fayetteville residents to recycle their live Christmas trees and since 1994, has kept thousands of pounds of  recyclable material out of our landfills.   The partnership between Fayetteville Public Works Commission, City of Fayetteville and Duke Energy Progress (DEP) turns live Christmas trees into mulch for the Fayetteville Community Garden and other local parks.

Source: Carolyn Justice-Hinson, Fayetteville Public Works Commission

Town of Knightdale

Knightdale will begin the collection of Christmas Tree beginning January 2, 2018. The Town will work using the same Zone schedule. Since January 2nd is a Tuesday, collection will begin in Zone 2. The Town will collect weekly following the Zone schedule until January 26, 2018. Place your tree at the curb for pickup.

  • The Town will also collect trees from Apartment and Townhome communities within Town limits each week on Thursdays and Fridays. Trees must be placed near the trash dumpster areas in each community. Do not place trees in trash dumpsters.
  • ALL trees must be free of all decorations, lights, and any other foreign matter. The Town cannot make exceptions as trees are composted, as per Wake County recommendations.

Source: Jonas Silver, Town of Knightdale

Nash County

Nash County residents may bring live Christmas trees to the conveniences centers located throughout the county.  See the list of locations at

New Hanover County

As a free service to New Hanover County residents, the county’s Environmental Management Department is offering Christmas tree recycling December 26, 2017 through January 15, 2018.

“Real Christmas trees are biodegradable and we are able to recycle them into mulch or compost,” said Environmental Management Director Joe Suleyman. “So we encourage all residents to bring your tree to one of our four locations in New Hanover County to be recycled.”

Lights and decorations must be removed and artificial trees cannot be accepted. There will be a designated area at each location for the trees to be neatly stacked. The drop-off locations are:

  • Home Depot, 5511 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington NC
  • Home Depot, 210 Eastwood Road, Wilmington NC
  • Ogden Park (near the baseball fields), 225 Ogden Park Drive, Wilmington NC
  • New Hanover County Landfill, 5210 US Hwy-421 N, Wilmington NC

This program is funded and coordinated by the New Hanover County Environmental Management Department, with support from the City of Wilmington Sanitation Department, New Hanover County Parks & Gardens, and the Home Depot. Learn more here.

City of Rocky Mount

When the holiday season ends and the Christmas tree comes down, all the holiday excitement tends to come to an end.  For those who chose to use a real Christmas tree this year, remember to mulch or compost your real Christmas tree or replant it after the holidays.

If you live in the city of Rocky Mount, place the real Christmas tree at the curbside by 6:30am on your day of solid waste collection. Be sure that your tree is not in the street nor blocking the sidewalk.

If you live in Nash County or Edgecombe County, you can take the real Christmas tree to one of the nine county convenience center sites.

If you have an artificial Christmas tree, it can be used over and over again and does not have to be discarded.

Source: Robin L. Cox, City of Rocky Mount

Wake County

Recycle your Christmas tree to mulch trails at Wake County Parks. Drop off your undecorated holiday trees at designated locations from December 26, 2017, until January 28, 2018. The list of drop-off locations is available here (Happy Trails Program).

Note that all facilities will be closed January 1, 2018 for New Year’s Day.

Town of Wake Forest

Christmas tree recycling begins December 28, 2017 and the Town of Wake Forest is encouraging residents to “make recycling a holiday tradition by recycling their Christmas trees.”

Beginning Thursday, December 28, the town will collect — and recycle — live Christmas trees from residential homes according to each home’s normal yard waste collection schedule. The trees will be ground into mulch, which will be used at the site of the 2018 Public Power Lineworkers Rodeo, scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018.

Be sure to remove all decorations, tinsel, nails, stands, strings, and bags from the tree and set it behind the curb for collection. Real trees only; artificial trees cannot be recycled.

For more information about Christmas tree recycling, contact Administrative Assistant Betty Pearce at 919.435.9570 or For more information about the Town of Wake Forest’s yard waste collection program, visit

Source: Bill Crabtree, Town of Wake Forest NC

City of Wilson

Environmental services will also be collecting Christmas trees on Tuesday, December 26, 2017 through January 6, 2018.

All trees should be stripped of decorations and lighting as they will be ground into mulch.

Leave trees behind the curb.

Trees may also be dropped off at the Wilson County landfill, 2400 Hwy 42 E, Wilson NC.

Any questions about environmental services may be answered at 252.399.2485. Visit them on the city website at to confirm dates for pick-up.

Tree-Related Recycling Elsewhere

A recycling option in Western NC is listed below. Recycle a Christmas tree and enjoy a day outdoors too.

Hendersonville NC

Give Your Christmas Trees, Lights & Holiday Cards a Second Life. MountainTrue is holding its annual Holiday Recycling Event at Jackson Park – Ball Field #6, 801 Glover Street, Hendersonville NC, on Saturday, January 6, 2018, 9am-2pm.

Area residents are invited to bring their Christmas trees, broken string lights and used greeting cards to be mulched and recycled.

Organized by MountainTrue, City of Hendersonville, Henderson County, Henderson County Coop Extension Service of the 4-H Project, and King Hardware & Rental.

Trees may be dropped off on or before January 6, 2018. Lights and greeting cards should be brought on the day of January 6.

The mulcher has been provided by King Hardware & Rental and Hendersonville and Henderson County personnel will be on site to much the trees. Lights will be recycled by the Henderson County Coop Extension Service of the 4-H Project.

MountainTrue volunteers will be on hand to help and serve free cookies and hot apple cider.

Don’t throw your tree away! Recycle it and turn it into nutritious mulch for your garden, plants and veggies. Visit the MountainTrue website. For more information, contact Gray Jernigan at 828.692.0385 or via email.


Ed. Note: According to a spokesperson, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission is not recycling Christmas trees as in the past:

The Commission has traditionally used Christmas trees to create fish habitat. Fish attractors ranging from 4-5 trees up to 100 trees were deployed to congregate fish in areas where anglers could fish.

The downside to using Christmas trees is that they degrade rapidly and areas have to be refurbished at least every couple of years. Therefore, several years back we shifted from using Christmas trees to mainly artificial structures due to their durability and longevity.  As a result, instead of dedicating staff time and resources to maintaining existing sites each year, we have been able to expand the effort to new sites and waters.

We still will occasionally deploy Christmas trees to supplement existing fish attractors, typically in conjunction with a local fishing or civic group.

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About Kay Whatley 2309 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.