How Will County residents can dispose of their Christmas trees

The Forest Preserve District of Will County ceased its Christmas tree collection program several years ago, but you still can dispose of your fresh tree responsibly in the post-holiday wind-down.

Some municipalities collect Christmas trees for recycling and composting as part of their curbside garbage collection services, while others offer drop-off services for trees, the forest district said.

Christmas trees cannot be left in Will County preserves.

Will County Green advises that you checking with your municipality about its collection services for Christmas trees. In some cases, municipalities that collect trees may chip them and then offer them as mulch in the spring.

If your municipality or garbage service doesn’t offer Christmas tree recycling or composting, you could hold on to your tree until the spring.

When yard waste collection resumes for the season, you can cut it up into pieces and place them in yard waste bags or your yard waste receptacle, the forest district said.

Until then, store it in an out-of-the-way spot in your yard, where birds and other wildlife may use it as shelter.

You can take it a step further and add strings of popcorn (or leave them from your trimmed tree) or orange slices to the branches to offer the birds a treat, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

You can even add small bird feeders to your holiday tree to allow it to serve as a haven for birds, the Arbor Day Foundation said.

If you have an outdoor fire pit, use your holiday centerpiece as firewood, the forest district said, as evergreen trees are best for outdoor fires. Most are sap producers and can burn fast and hot, making them a good choice for bonfires but not so much for cozy indoor fires, according to the Arbor Day Foundation.

It’s best to let your Christmas tree sit outdoors to dry out for a few months before cutting or burning it.

Once your fire burns out, the ashes from your tree can be mixed into your compost or spread over your garden soil and landscaped beds, the forest district said. The ash from the tree contains a lot of lime, potassium and other nutrients that will help your plants grow and thrive.

Or you can always repurpose your tree to make winter decorations for your home. Consider cutting off a few sprigs from your evergreen tree, and as long as the sprigs have still-green needles, you can create crafts that keep the Christmas scent in the air.

Holiday lights recycling

Holiday lights that no longer are working can be dropped off for recycling at three county locations through Jan. 31, according to Will County Green.

However, only string lights are accepted. No stand-alone LEDs, compact fluorescent lamps or other fluorescent lights will be taken, according to the organization’s website.

The locations this year are:

  • Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30.p.m. weekdays.
  • Will County Land Use Department, 58 E. Clinton St., Joliet, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30.p.m. weekdays.
  • Will County Sunny Hill Nursing Home, 401 Doris Ave., Joliet, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30.p.m, every day.

String lights can be recycled year round at all electronic drop-off sites throughout Will County.