VIDEO: Here’s what to do with your Christmas tree with the holidays ending

When the holidays come to an end, residents of Dare County and its six municipalities are reminded that there are differing polices regarding the disposal of Christmas trees depending on where you live.

Remember that all ornaments, lights, ribbons, tinsel and other decorations must be removed from the tree. Any non-natural items left on trees could later become a hazard to animals and sealife.

And there’s an easy way for the tree to be re-purposed to help rebuild the dunes along the Outer Banks, with drop off locations at area businesses and local groups also collection trees.

State rules for using Christmas trees in dunes

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.

In particular, 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 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 rows. Unvegetated beach berms, or created “starter dunes,” are not considered natural dunes. Trees should not be placed at the seaward toe of these berms or starter dunes.

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.

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), as well as Wanchese, Colington and Martins Point. For more information about Christmas tree disposal in unincorporated Dare County, including hours of operation at the recycling centers, click the button below.


The Town of Manteo requests that residents place their undecorated Christmas trees next to their roll courts 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. For more information, click the button below.


The Town of Duck will collect undecorated Christmas trees from the curbside on its regular Monday and Tuesday collection routes on January 3, 2022; January 4, 2022; January 10, 2022; and January 11, 2022. The town also asks that trees be placed on the curbside the night before residents’ scheduled collection date. For more information, click the button below.

Southern Shores

Residents of the Town of Southern Shores may place their undecorated Christmas trees in their 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 Christmas trees along the curbside, where they will be picked up in a timely manner. For more information, click the button below.

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 12, 2022. Trees must be placed on the curbside no later than Tuesday, January 11, 2022. For more information, click the button below.

Nags Head

Nags Head residents are asked to place their undecorated 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, click the button below.

About Sam Walker 1512 Articles
Sam Walker was news director for, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.