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How to get rid of your Christmas tree

With Christmas behind us, it's time to take down the decorations. Here are five ways to dispose of your Christmas tree.

Taylor Martin/CNET

The bustle of Christmas is (thankfully) over, but that only means one thing: it's time to tear down all that decor you spent so long dragging out of the attic. Most things will go back into their boxes or storage bins. Some of it will go into the trash or recycling. But what about that wilting Christmas tree?

Fear not, there are several ways to dispose of it. Here are five things you can do with your Christmas tree.

Burn it

Have you seen the terrifying videos of how quickly a Christmas tree can go up in flames when it begins to dry out? Put this to good use… just not indoors.

If you've got a fire pit out back (or have a neighbor who does), hack it up with an axe, a pruning saw or chainsaw. Then sit the pieces out in your back yard for a few weeks and let it continue to dry out. Toss it in the fire pit and set it on fire. Do not attempt to burn the tree in the fireplace.

Beware, it might make you rethink using a real Christmas tree next year. Also, make sure to check with any local ordinances before burning a Christmas tree, as it's illegal in some places.

Yard waste pickup

A lot of municipalities offer yard waste pickup. If that's the case for you, they'll often pick up Christmas trees for a few weeks following the holiday. Just remove all the decorations and drag it to the curb. That said, most yard waste pickup services have maximum sizes that they will pick up. This may mean you will first need to cut the tree into smaller pieces. Four-foot (1.2-meter) segments should suffice.

If your municipality doesn't offer a tree pickup service, consider calling a local Boy Scout troop. Some troops collect Christmas trees, often for a small donation.

Recycle it

Many recycling centers will accept Christmas trees, free of charge, to chunk into mulch to be used around the community. Some home improvement retailers will, as well, such as Home Depot. Call to find out if your recycling center or Home Depot offers tree drop-off.

Sink it

No, seriously. If you have a pond on your property, toss the tree in the pond. This will create a haven for fish that acts as a shelter and a breeding and feeding area. Many fishermen will "bait" an area in a lake with Christmas trees.

If you don't fish or have a pond but know someone who does, ask them if they want your tree before you dispose of it.

Reuse it

Finally, you can put parts of your Christmas tree to good use. You can cut discs from the tree to make a centerpiece for your dining room table or coasters for the living room. You can make potpourri with the needles (if they're not too dry). Or have the tree chunked and use it as mulch around your yard.