RALEIGH — It still smells a lot like Christmas at Convenience Center 7 off Durant Road in North Raleigh, where Wake County is turning holiday greenery into mulch.
Across the Triangle, local governments and contractors are collecting and grinding the trees, wreaths and garlands that decorated homes last month. Through its Happy Trails Holiday Tree Recycling Program, Wake is turning the evergreens into mulch to spread on walking trails in county parks.
“It’s a good way to avoid people putting them on the side of the road,” said Roy Baldwin, Wake County environmental program coordinator.
The county has collected about 3,550 trees so far this year, Baldwin said, and expects to receive another 450 or so by the end of the collection period Sunday.
Blue Jay Point, Harris Lake and Lake Crabtree parks receive mulch from the program.
One of the benefits of the mulch is its festive aroma.
“People comment constantly on how nice it smells,” said Deborah Robertson, manager at Blue Jay Point park on Falls Lake.
The mulching program has been in existence for several years, but was renamed Happy Trails this year to let residents know where their trees are going.
“We wanted to put emphasis on the fact that the trees are being reused,” said Baldwin.
The City of Raleigh has a similar mulching operation, using trees it collects curbside. The trees are taken to the city’s yard waste recycling center on New Hope Road in Raleigh where they are chipped into mulch and sold to the public.
Edward Wright, yard waste and landfill operations superintendent, says the program keeps the trees out of the landfills, saving space for the “real garbage.”