Dispose holiday greens and Christmas trees correctly to protect trees

Published 8:00 pm Friday, December 25, 2020

Holiday greenery brings joy and delight, but is there a humbug lurking in your décor? Trees and boughs can provide diseases and invasive species the perfect ride into our landscape.

Pests of concern include elongate hemlock scale, a small insect established in the eastern U.S. where many decorative Fraser firs are grown. Feeding damage from this invasive insect can cause the needles of hemlocks, firs and spruces to yellow and prematurely drop. Also, boxwood blight and Oriental bittersweet, sometimes found on wreaths and centerpieces, can endanger native trees and other landscaping. More information on these threats can be found at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture  website at www.mda.state.mn.us/holidaygreenery.

To protect the environment, the state of Minnesota is asking residents to properly dispose of greenery and trees after the holiday season.

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At the end of the season, please remember these guidelines:

The best option is to use a curbside tree collection or bring to a designated drop-off site. Check with your waste hauler, city or county to see what services are offered in your area.

Do not toss trees and greenery into backyard woods or your residential compost pile which could allow hitchhiking pests to escape.

Wreaths and other decorative greens can be disposed in trash cans.

If your city or county does not have an organized pick-up or drop-off, the last resort would be to burn the greens. Always check with local ordinances first and follow them.

If you suspect your greenery or tree may be infested with an invasive insect or disease, contact the MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us.