When it’s time to tackle the annual chore of taking down the Christmas tree, do you know what to do with the empty evergreen? Here are five ways to recycle your Christmas tree. No matter which method you choose, make sure you've removed all ornaments, lights, garland and other decorations first.

1. Bring it out to the curb. If your town will pick up your tree along with your trash and recycling, lucky you! Haul that evergreen down to the curb for pickup, then wash your hands of it. (Perhaps literally, as tree sap is messy.) The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) says there may be limits to how large a tree a town will pick up, so check with yours first. Most towns collect trees during the two weeks following Christmas.

2. Bring it to a recycling center. If your town doesn’t offer curb-side pickup, you can take your tree to a recycling center. The NCTA says most counties have free drop-off locations that usually don’t charge for a tree (or even two).

3. Call the Boy Scouts. In many communities, local Boy Scouts of America troops will collect Christmas trees for a donation of $5.

4. Put it in your yard waste. Cut the tree down into small enough pieces to fit into your yard waste containers, then leave those near the curb for collection.

5. Mulch it. Christmas trees are biodegradable. If you have a mulcher, or if a friend or neighbor has one, you can turn that tree into mulch for your landscaping or garden.

Related: 9 Things You Probably Didn't Know You Can Recycle

Looking for more creative ways to reuse your tree? The NCTA says some communities use old Christmas trees as soil erosion barriers in waterfront communities. And if you drop one into your private fish pond, it makes a great place for fish to feed and hide.

What not to do with your tree

“Don’t lean it against your house or put it in the garage because it’s fuel for a potential home fire,” says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for UL. Also, don't keep it on your porch.

And don’t burn the tree in your fireplace. “Your fireplace is intended to burn well-seasoned hard wood. It’s not intended to burn dried evergreen branches,” Drengenberg says. The needles will burn quickly and may shoot sparks out of the fireplace.

Related: Plastics: Can I Recycle That?

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Angela is a Pulitzer Prize-winning digital editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and information to audiences worldwide. Prior to joining SafeBee, she was the features editor for Boston.com at The Boston Globe, overseeing health, travel, entertainment, business and lifestyle coverage. Before moving to features, she was the news and homepage editor, covering stories such as the Boston Marathon bombing, Red Sox World Series victories, presidential elections, a papal inauguration, and more. Her favorite safety tip: Clean your phone! The average cell phone has 18 times more germs than the toilet handle in a men’s restroom.