McALLEN — Christmas is over, but the city of McAllen is undertaking a recycling endeavor intended to give the pines a second life.

The city is accepting natural Christmas trees, which Composting Supervisor Liza Valdez says will be turned into a special pine mulch that should be available for purchase in early spring, as long as the city receives enough trees to make the product.

“The past few years we haven’t been able to collect enough trees to make enough mulch to be able to sell, so we just put it in our regular piles,” she said.

Valdez says the mulch is organic, affordable and it smells like Christmas trees.

“It’s a benefit, because you can use this mulch in a garden, you can use it for trees; it’ll help retain moisture in a garden or vegetable bed, and it’ll deter some insects as well, especially the pine. And it smells really nice when it rains, especially the pine,” she said. “People are wanting to be more eco-friendly and environmentally friendly now with all this climate change and everything that’s going on, so it helps, it really does. It’s all organic, no chemicals. We don’t put anything but green materials and green waste into our products.”

The city needs about 1,000 trees to make the mulch. So far, it’s received about 500.

“Mainly the retailers are bringing them in, Home Depot, Lowes, H-E-B, all the trees they weren’t able to sell. Plus we get whatever the recycling center collects,” Valdez said.

The program was started about six years ago.

“It’s a method to keep these trees from illegal dumping sites, keep them from being thrown in the trash and going to the landfill,” she said. “They were just being dumped on the side of the road and in alleyways because they don’t fit in a regular trash can.”

Valdez says she believes the program is achieving that goal.

“We have noticed that we don’t see as many trees being dumped. There has been a slight reduction, it’s not 100%, but as far as I know, yes, it does help with those illegal dumpsites,” she said.

The city will be accepting trees through late January or early February, Valdez says. As long as they get enough trees, the pine mulch should be available for purchase by the end of February.

“So it’ll be ready for a lot of these people who during Spring Break want to do gardening and planting and stuff like that,” Valdez said.

To sweeten the deal, Valdez said that individuals who drop off a tree at the composting facility are welcome to take a free bag of compost with them.

Trees must be free of decorations, lights and tinsel, but the city will accept trees that have been flocked. McAllen is accepting trees from all Rio Grande Valley residents at two locations:

McAllen Recycling Center

4101 N. Bentsen Rd.
Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Composting Facility

15201 N. 29th Street (Rooth Road)
Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.