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Join the Mulchfest magic: Recycle your Christmas tree in Queens starting Dec. 26

Residents can bring their Christmas trees to city parks and gardens to be turned into mulch during the annual Mulchfest. (Photo from the HPPC Mulchfest in 2018)

Dec. 21, 2023 By Kirstyn Brendlen

It’s the mulch wonderful time of the year!

Mulchfest, the city’s annual Christmas tree “tree-cycling” program, is returning to Queens starting Dec. 26.

From Dec. 26 to Jan. 7, residents are invited to take part in the tradition by dropping their live Christmas trees off at one of 15 Mulchfest locations across the borough. From there, Parks Department staff will lovingly turn each tree into mulch, which will be used in parks and garden beds all over the city.

Parks is thrilled to be kicking-off this year’s Mulchfest!” said Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue in a statement. “Last year, New Yorkers went above and beyond in their tree-cycling efforts, setting a new Mulchfest record of more than 58,000 trees.”

people chippinh trees at mulchfest

More than 58,000 trees were turned to mulch during Mulchfest 2022 – a new record. File photo courtesy of NYC Parks

According to the city’s Parks Department, mulch deters weeds, adds nutrients to the soil and allows the soil to maintain moisture, and keeps plant roots warm in chilly weather – so all those old Christmas trees help make the city’s parks and gardens healthy and resilient.

Plus, mulching is one of the most eco-friendly ways to dispose of a live tree: like any organic waste, Christmas trees won’t decompose properly in a landfill, and are likely to end up sending more hazardous methane gas into the atmosphere.

kid and parent at mulchfest

A father and son carry their tree to the chipper in Marine Park in 2017. File photo by Jordan Rathkopf

The highlight of Mulchfest is Chipping Weekend, when New Yorkers can haul their trees to a designated chipping site and watch it get mulched — then take home a back of fresh mulch to use in their own gardens.

Mulching nurtures soil health and allows the community to get involved in sustainable practices, creating a shared sense of environmental stewardship,” Donoghue continued. “Here’s to breaking the record again at Mulchfest 2024!”  

Before heading out to a Mulchfest location, be sure to remove all ornaments, lights, plastic netting, and wires from your Christmas tree.

mulchfest bags

During Chipping Weekend, bring your tree down to a chipping site in exchange for a bag of fresh mulch! File photo courtesy of NYC Parks

Don’t fret if you can’t or don’t want to drag your tree to the chipper — the Department of Sanitation will also pick up and compost trees and wreaths curbside on your regular compost pickup day. Remove any decorations, lights, and wires and set your items out at the curb the night before your scheduled compost day, and your greenery will be picked up and either composted or chipped. Trees and wreaths with decorations still attached can’t be composted, and will be thrown with the regular trash.

Queens Mulchfest Locations 2023

Location Address Service
Astoria Park* 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue *Chipping
Captain Mario Fajardo Playground Kissena Boulevard at Booth Memorial Avenue Drop-off only
Cunningham Park* 196th Place and Union Turnpike *Chipping
Forest Park* Forest Park Drive and Woodhaven Boulevard *Chipping
Francis Lewis Park* Third Avenue and 147th Street *Chipping
Hunter’s Point South Park* 51st Avenue and Center Boulevard *Chipping
John Golden Park 215th Place and 33rd Avenue Drop-off only
Juniper Valley Park* 80th Street between Juniper Boulevard North and South *Chipping
Queensbridge Park Vernon Boulevard and Queensbridge Park Greenway Drop-off only
Queens County Farm Museum 73-50 Little Neck Parkway Drop-off only
Rockaway Beach 94th Street and Shorefront Parkway Drop-off only
Roy Wilkins Park* 177th Street and Baisley Boulevard *Chipping
Travers Park* 78th Street and 34th Avenue *Chipping
Torsney/Lou Lodati Playground Skillman Ave and 42nd Street Drop-off only
Windmuller Park at Lawrence Virgilio Playground 34th Drive and 54th Street Drop-of
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