How to recycle your Christmas tree in SoCal — for free

What do you do with that Christmas tree after the holidays?
What do you do with that Christmas tree after the holidays?
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Picking out a tree, decorating, placing the presents: That's fun. But taking it down? What a pain. 

Fortunately, cities and counties throughout Southern California have a variety of ways to dispose of the trees once the tinsel and lights are gone.

(And if you're looking for something more adventurous, try this: The 9th Annual Christmas Tree Bonfire. The group will gather Christmas trees down at Dockweiler State Beach and party for a few hours amidst the blaze.) 

If you live in the city of L.A.

Here's what you need to know: If the city’s Bureau of Sanitation picks up your trash (single-family homes and multi-family homes of four units or fewer), you can leave your tree next to your green bin. 

Pro tip: All trees must be free of decorations, lights and stands. If your Christmas tree is too big to cut and place it inside the green waste bin, simply place the tree next to your green waste bin on collection day. 

People who live in multi-family homes of more than four units can drop their trees off at 19 locations citywide on one day only: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4.

Drop-off sites

Griffith Park
At Griffith Park, Junction Of
Golden State (5) & Ventura (134) Frwys
LA Zoo parking lot

Rancho Cienega Recreation Center
5001 Rodeo Road

Balboa Sports Center
17015 Burbank Boulevard

Cheviot Hills Recreation Center
2551 Motor Avenue

Sunland Park
8651 Foothill Boulevard

Westchester Municipal Building
7166 West Manchester Avenue

1192 E. 51st Street, 90011 - South Los Angeles
(213) 485-6221

11641 Corbin Ave., 91326 - Porter Ranch
(818) 756-9728

4029 W. Wilshire Bl., 90010 - Hancock Park
(213) 485-6229

1410 Cypress Ave., 90065 - Cypress Park
(213) 485-6244

10811 S. Main Street, 90061 - South Los Angeles
(213) 485-6264 

1801 E. Century Bl., 90002 - Watts
(213) 485-6265 

107 S. Beverly Glen Bl., 90024 - Holmby Hills/Bel-Air
(310) 575-8571 

9224 Sunland Bl., 91352- Sun Valley
(818) 756-8677

5769 Hollywood Bl., 90028 - Hollywood
(213) 485-6282 

5101 N. Sepulveda Bl., 91403 - Sherman Oaks
(818) 756-8688

4470 Coliseum St., 90016 - Crenshaw District
(213) 485-6294 

23004 Roscoe Bl., 91304 - West Hills
(818) 756-8606

12520 Mulholland Dr., 90210 - Franklin Canyon
(818) 756-8608

If you're wondering, the trees recycled trees will be chipped into compost and mulch.

All info above taken from the city's website here

If you live in L.A. County

Los Angeles County breaks down Christmas tree recycling rules by city.

For additional information regarding Christmas tree recycling programs, call 1(888)CLEAN LA between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

More specifically if you have a problem, here are names and numbers of various recycling contacts throughout the county.

If you live elsewhere

Orange County 

The county writes: 

In Orange County, trash haulers collect real trees from curbsides after the holidays, and process the green waste into reusable materials. They have requested that all residents remove tinsel, ornaments and tree stands from the tree. Flocked trees cannot be recycled but will be picked up.  

All cities in Orange County will collect Christmas trees for approximately two weeks following Christmas Day at no additional charge.

For more information about Christmas tree pick-up in your area, please visit www.oclandfills.com or call 714-834-4000. 

Riverside County 

The Press Enterprise writes: 

CR&R Christmas Tree Recycling Program is available at no cost to all their residential customers in Riverside County.

The annual program includes the cities of Temecula, Wildomar (west of I-15), Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Perris, San Jacinto, Hemet, Calimesa and various unincorporated county areas throughout Riverside County.

CR&R will pick up trees on regularly scheduled service days through Jan. 6.

More info here via the county's website. 

San Bernardino County 

From Barstow to Fontana, here's a rundown of what to do in your city via Sam Bernardino County.

Ventura County 

Ventura Star writes: 

Port Hueneme allows whole trees to be placed next to trash carts for free collection Jan. 5-8. Oxnard allows free whole-tree collection on regular days of garbage collection Dec. 29-Jan. 15, and unincorporated areas allow whole tree collection until Jan. 9. After those dates, those jurisdictions will join others in charging for collection of trees outside carts. For example, Oxnard’s charge will be $10 per tree.

Santa Barbara

The county offers a great breakdown of pick-up instructions, drop-off locations and what will happen to your tree. Find that all here. 

Have you recycled your tree? Did it go smoothly? 

Correction: We previously linked to an inaccurate event invite for the Christmas Tree Bonfire. KPCC regrets the error.