Kick your Christmas tree to the curb—the right way

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Updated on December 24, 2015

Is your long-dead Christmas tree still sitting in the living room, dropping a steady supply of pine needles onto the floor?

The city will collect trees for recycling from Monday, January 4th, through Friday, January 15th—they all get turned into mulch that'll be used in city parks, gardens, etc. Put your tree on the curb after clearing off the decorations and the tree stand.

The Department of Sanitation recommends doing this as early as possible during the collection period, presumably so they're not faced with an onslaught of trees the morning of the 15th. (And if, for some reason, you want to see the tree-to-wood-chip transformation yourself, you can bring your tree to several park locations around the city for Mulchfest 2016, January 9th and 10th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

One major detail to keep in mind: the DOS warns that you should "NOT place trees in plastic bags" before putting them on the curb.

If you live in an apartment building, however, the trick is getting the tree from your apartment to the street without littering common areas in pine needles or causing undue hassle for your building's staff. Trees are a surprisingly big hassle for management, as we've covered before

Of course, this is New York, so you can always pay someone else, like Tyler’sTrees and NYC Trees, to do the heavy lifting for you. Prices start at $50,according to DNA Info.

"The biggest headache for the staff are residents who wait until the very last minute to dispose of their trees," says an Upper East Side doorman and columnist for A Doorman Speaks, noting that by mid-January, most trees are particularly dried out, and cause extra mess. 

Indeed, we once saw missive from an Upper West Side building beseeching residents not to cram trees down the trash chute, in case you were considering that questionable disposal option:

The rule of thumb is to take into account your building's trash system and any policies they might have in place—the Upper West Side building also gave the OK for residents to take trees to the basement garbage room instead of the curb, and to put in a service request if they'd like maintenance staff to take care of the tree. "My building has a spot in front where we usually tell the residents they can leave the trees," the Upper East Side doorman says. 

Your best bet, if taking the tree down solo, is to use a service elevator if possible to minimize the tree detritus that ends up scattered in the building's common areas. And when in doubt, check in with the super or doorman about when, how, and where they'd like you to take your aging tree, and if they end up helping you out—or handling it altogether—remember to make it worth their while with a tip.


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