How to give your Christmas tree a second life in the dunes of the Outer Banks

How to give your Christmas tree a second life in the dunes of the Outer Banks

December 29th, 2022

With the holidays coming to an end, residents are reminded that there are differing polices regarding the disposal of Christmas trees depending on where you live.

And there are multiple ways to recycle your tree in a way that benefits the dunes along the Outer Banks, even if you don’t live close by.

Remember, all ornaments, lights, ribbons, tinsel and other decorations must be removed before the trees are placed on the curbside for pickup, dropped off at the appropriate recycling centers or taken to the beach for dune restoration.

You can drop off your trees for the dunes at some local businesses and locations. We’ll add to the list as more announce details.

If you are in Hampton Roads, drop off your tree at Chicho’s at 29th and Pacific at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. They will haul it down to the Outer Banks for you, and you can enjoy free pizza.

Along the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, trees can be dropped off at Fort Macon State Park and in the Town of Emerald Isle in Carteret County. Visit for more details.

State rules for using trees as sand fencing to help rebuild dunes
As the holiday season winds down, the N.C. Division of Coastal Management is providing guidance to property owners, organizations and towns that plan to accept natural Christmas trees for use in dune restoration and/or beach sand fencing.

Natural Christmas trees may be used for sand fencing but must be free of decorations and should be placed in a manner that meets the state’s rules for sand fencing.

Christmas trees should be placed as far landward as possible and should not impede existing public access to the beach, recreational use of the beach or emergency vehicle access. In addition, trees should not be installed in a manner that could impede, trap, or otherwise endanger sea turtles, nests or hatchlings when the nesting season returns in a few months.

For example, trees should be installed at an angle no less than 45 degrees to the shoreline, no more than 10 feet seaward of the toe of the natural dune, and no less than seven feet between trees.

If sand fencing is present, a seven-foot separation between trees and sand fencing sections must also be maintained. Rows should be single tree width and not installed in conjunction with sand fencing. Unvegetated beach berms, or created “starter dunes,” are not considered natural dunes. Trees should not be placed at the seaward toe of these berms, starter dunes, or on the open beach.

To ensure compliance with all of the rules that apply to sand fencing, please review the standards outlined in 15A NCAC 07K .0212.  If the proposed layout of trees along the beachfront does not meet these criteria, applicants should submit a CAMA Minor Permit application for review. For more information, please contact the local CAMA permitting authority or appropriate DCM district office.

If you just want to get rid of the tree instead, then here’s what to do:
Unincorporated Dare County
The Dare County Public Works Department will not pick up any Christmas trees that are left on the curbside within the unincorporated areas of Dare County.

Christmas trees should be dropped off at the Dare County Public Works Recycling Center located at 1018 Driftwood Drive in Manteo or at the Buxton Transfer Station, which is located at 47027 Buxton Back Road in Buxton. Trees that are dropped off at these locations will be recycled into mulch.

Unincorporated Dare County includes Hatteras Island (Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras Village), the Dare County mainland (East Lake, Manns Harbor, Mashoes and Stumpy Point), unincorporated areas of Roanoke Island including Wanchese, as well as Colington and Martins Point.

The Town of Manteo requests that residents place their undecorated Christmas trees from the curbside during the town’s regular Monday and Thursday sanitation runs so the Public Works Department can remove the trees.

Trees must not contain any ornaments, lights or tinsel in order to be picked up.

The Town of Duck will collect undecorated, tinsel-free Christmas trees from the curbside on Monday, January 2, 2023 and Monday, January 9, 2023.

The town asks that trees be placed on the curbside the night before residents’ scheduled collection date.

Southern Shores
Residents of the Town of Southern Shores may place their undecorated, tinsel-free Christmas trees in limb and branch piles for collection during the regularly scheduled pickup for their sector.

Please note that wreaths are excluded and will not be collected. To determine your sector, or to find more information regarding the town’s collection calendar, rules and regulations, click the button below.

Kitty Hawk
The Town of Kitty Hawk requests that residents place their undecorated, tinsel-free Christmas trees along the curbside right-of-way before Wednesday, February 1, 2023 where they will be picked up in a timely manner.

Kill Devil Hills
The Town of Kill Devil Hills will be collecting natural and undecorated Christmas trees that are placed along the curbside beginning on Wednesday, January 11, 2023. Trees must be placed on the curbside right-of-way adjacent to your property no later than Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

Nags Head
Nags Head residents are asked to place their undecorated, tinsel-free Christmas trees along the side of the road in front of their property, where they will be collected as part of the town’s monthly curbside bulk item/brush collection service.

The town also reminds residents to set their trees in a separate pile from the rest of any bulk items that need to be collected. For more information, contact the Nags Head Public Service Department at 252-441-1122.

Corolla and Currituck mainland
There is no curbside collection of Christmas trees. They can be taken to any of the county’s convenience centers and disposed of in the dumpsters marked for Brush.

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