By LINDA CHION KENNEY
So beautiful and green, soon not to be seen, it’s time to discard Christmas trees and seasonal decorations, with handy tips at the ready from Hillsborough County officials and others.
First off, the free stuff. Several options are available for Hillsborough County solid waste customers, including free curbside pickup for trees devoid of decorations. The tree must be cut into sections and placed by the curb on yard waste day. The cuts should be no larger than 4-feet long and 6-inches in diameter.
Should that prove to be burdensome, another option is to bring live, undecorated trees to one of the county’s three yard-waste processing facilities, including at 13000 U.S. Highway 41 in Gibsonton. Additional locations are in Tampa, at 8001 West Linebaugh Ave. and at 346 Falkenburg Road. All three sites are open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the exception of holidays. The sites will be closed New Year’s Day.
Another option is to repurpose lives trees for use in the yard, as in grinding the tree into mulch for trees, shrubs and flower beds. Additional suggestions from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences include stripping bare a tree into a stake frame for flowers or beans to crawl, or creating a bird-feeder by securing a tree into a heavy pot and “decorating” its branches with suitable food, such as sliced fruit and suet.
From ThisOldHouse online an additional set of options are offered, including that pine needles, because they “dry quickly and decompose slowly,” provide an “excellent moisture- and mold-free mulch for ground-covering crops, such as strawberries, to rest on.” (That’s good news in these parts, as nearby Plant City is known as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, with the next annual Strawberry Festival set to kick off its 11-day run March 3.)
Additional suggestions from ThisOldHouse include edging flower beds or walkways with trunks cut into 2-inch discs; making coasters and trivets with thin slabs of trunk sanded smooth, then coated with a thin coat of polyurethane to protect tables and glassware from sap; and to rent alone, or with neighbors, a chipper. Feed trees through and spread the resulting wood chips under shrubs to suppress weeds. Eventually, when decomposed, the chips will add nutrients to the soil. For more, visit www.ThisOldHouse.com and search for “What To Do With an Old Christmas Tree.” Additional stories cover such things as how to transport a Christmas tree and how to plant a Christmas tree in the backyard.
To avoid a fire hazard, real trees should be discarded when they become dry, university officials say. Tree branches and needles should never be burned in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Be careful vacuuming, as needles can clog vacuums. Consider sweeping instead.
To access the Hillsborough County Yard Waste Processing Facilities, bring the required photo I.D. and a property tax bill, showing a current Hillsborough County Solid Waste Disposal Assessment.
To drop off a tree, you must be able to unload the tree yourself, devoid of all decorations, lights and tinsel. Artificial trees are not accepted. For more information, call Hillsborough County Solid Waste at 813-272-5680.
People who do not live in Hillsborough County can dispose of their trees at the county waste processing facilities for a tipping fee, based on the weight of waste per ton. According to the county’s web site, renters can dispose of materials at Hillsborough waste facilities by paying the applicable fees for disposal, or contact solid waste to discuss options.
For trash and recycling fees, visit https://bit.ly/3qvGT34/.