It seems that even the tree knows when Christmas is over—ever notice how those pine needles fall off at a faster clip after the holidays? Yep, all good things must come to an end. But even more pitiful than a bare Frasier Fir is a bare Frasier Fir leaned against an outdoor trash bin for days (weeks?), gathering dust and potato chip wrappers. Read on for dates, times, and tips on giving your spruce the send off it deserves.

6732876763_e401098e2f_zPhoto: Jonny Hughes via Flickr

How to Say Goodbye to a Christmas Tree (No Tears Allowed)

  • Remove all of the lights and ornaments (including the ones that kiddo hid deep inside the tree).
  • Don’t bag the shrub. Most recyclers don’t want the plastic, just the tree.
  • If your little one asks “where does it go?,” explain that the tree will be chipped and composted to help flowers grow in the spring. Who knew you’d be teaching Junior about the circle of life just by chucking the tree?

D.C.: Holiday trees and wreaths will be picked up during regular trash pickup between Jan.14-Feb. 2. Trees picked up during these dates will be composted and made available to residents for free.

Fairfax County, VA: Trees are collected during the first two weeks of January.

Arlington, VA: Christmas trees will be scooped up on your regular trash day, between Dec. 31-Jan. 11. Trees picked up during these dates will be turned into mulch available to residents.

Prince William County, VA: Drop off your tree anytime at one of four spots—Prince William County Ladnfill, Balls Ford Road Compost Facility, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC), or Leesylvania State Park (where they’ll be used for wildlife habitats at the park).

Alexandria, VA: Put your tree on the curb during regular pick-up times. The trees will be turned into mulch, which is available in the spring for residents on a first come, first served basis.

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Loudoun County, VA: Between Dec. 26-Jan. 20, strip your tree of all its bells and whistles and drop it off at one of these recycling locations: Loudon County Landfill Dropoff Center, South Riding Town Hall, Claude Moore Park, Game Protective Associating in Lovettsville, or Franklin Park.

Montgomery County, MD: MoCo residents who like to hold onto their Christmas tree for-like-ever are in luck—Christmas trees are accepted year-round in the county’s curbside yard trim collection. Just leave your fir on the curb by 7 am.

Howard County, MD: Tree collection is available through Jan. 19. Residents with yard trim collection can place their trees on curb by 6 a.m. on the day off service.

Prince George’s County, MD: Through Jan. 28 you can leave your Christmas tree out (before 6 am) to be picked up with yard waste. Bare pines can also be dropped off at the Brown Station Road Public Container Pad and Recycling Center or the Missouri Ave. Solid Waste Acceptance and Recycling Center.

Frederick County, MD: Re-gift your tree to one of these area parks (where they’ll mulch it up): Reichs Ford Road Yard Waste Recycling Site, Ballenger Creek Park, Middletown Park Recycling Center, Kemptown Park, Eyeler Road Park, Point of Rocks Ruritan Club, or Heritage Farm Park.

—Ayren Jackson-Cannady