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cutdown Christmas tree

The holiday season is over and it’s time to put away your decorations. You’ve taken down the lights, packed up the ornaments and deflated the snowman on your lawn. So far, so good.

But what do you do with your Christmas tree?

Preparing Your Tree for Recycling

First, remove all the decorations from your tree, including ornaments, lights, garlands, stands, etc. Once the tree is bare, there are several options for recycling:

  • Chip and mulch – You can rent or buy a woodchipper and process the tree. Store the mulch for a year to let it age.
  • Help the birds – You can place the tree in your backyard, giving birds a new place to nest and feed.
  • Feed the fish – If you have a pond on your property, you can submerge the tree in the water. Once submerged, discarded Christmas trees can provide shelter for small insects, snails, etc. This, in turn, draws insect-loving fish to the area.

Preparing Your Tree for Disposal

If you live in unincorporated Polk County and you prefer disposal over recycling, you have options:

  • If it’s a natural tree, once you’ve removed all the decorations, you can place the tree curbside along with the rest of your yard waste on your collection day. (To find your collection day, go to If the tree is taller than six feet, cut it in half.
  • If it’s an artificial tree, you can set it out on your Furniture & Appliance collection day. Or you can disassemble the tree and place it in your garbage bin.

Why Should I Recycle My Christmas Tree?

When you recycle your Christmas tree or dispose of it properly, you are giving back to the environment by creating a new use for the tree or by keeping it from clogging the landfill. By doing your part, you’re helping to make the end of the holiday season merry and bright.

If you have any questions about what to do with your tree, contact us at (863) 284-4319.

Source: How to recycle | National Christmas Tree Association (

What Do I Do with That Dead Christmas Tree?

illegal tire dumping in Polk County

Illegal dumping is one of the biggest obstacles in the effort to “Keep Polk County Beautiful” … Through the Waste and Recycling division, the county provides residents with reasonable options to get rid of residential and commercial waste. Despite this, some people choose to illegally dump their trash on roadsides, other people’s property or on Polk County’s natural lands.

What is Illegal Dumping?

Illegal dumping can be anything from regular trash to much more hazardous waste materials. Our county is often littered with things like unwanted tires, old appliances, dangerous chemicals and construction debris. You name it, and you can likely find it where it’s not supposed to be in Polk County.

If you need to find hazardous waste disposal near me, you can visit

Trash by the road from illegal dumping in Polk County Florida

Why Is It Important to Curb Illegal Dumping?

Polk County has many beautiful natural resources and parks, so when people leave trash and other debris, it impacts the natural beauty of Polk County. And, if one person dumps and it’s not immediately reported and cleaned up, more people will illegally dump waste where it doesn’t belong. This decreases property value and sometimes attracts crime. Illegal dumping also presents a health risk, as it becomes a breeding ground for insects and draws in disease-transmitting animals such as rats.

Polk County natural resources can also be directly affected. These environmental impacts include soil and water contamination. In a place like Polk County, where we take great pride in our lakes and protected environmental lands, this should concern every one of us. The animals and the birds, the trees and bodies of water we love so much depend on us to do the right thing.

What Can Be Done About Illegal Dumping?

First, don’t do it. Don’t be a part of the problem. And if you see illegal dumping, report it immediately at or (863) 534-6054.

Volunteers cleaning up trash from illegal dumping in Polk County

You also can get involved with the county-funded Keep Polk County Beautiful, Inc. (KPCB) program. KPCB is a non-profit organization that works with groups across the county to improve the aesthetic and ecological value of Polk through litter control and prevention, beautification, waste reduction, recycling and proper handling and disposal of solid waste. KPCB has recruited tens of thousands of volunteers and collected hundreds of thousands of pounds of litter and illegally dumped items through tire collection events, Adopt-a-Road programs, community and waterway cleanups, and more.

Visit or call (863) 875-8911 to learn more.

Illegal Dumping is a Significant Problem in Polk County

Polk County Commissioners Chairman Bill Braswell

As chairman of the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, I’m inviting you to connect with your commissioners. After all, as residents, you elected us to represent you. So, it only makes sense that we’d want to hear from you on important issues, right?

Is There a Better Way?

You may already attend the bi-monthly county commission meetings in Bartow and address commissioners about issues that concern you. That’s a great start.

I’d suggest, though, that there’s an even better way to do things; a way that will be more helpful to you, the commissioners and our community.

What Happens at a Board Meeting?

When you show up to speak at a board meeting, you are limited to three minutes at a podium. You can certainly speak your mind, but there’s no back and forth between you and the commissioners. The structure of the meeting does not allow for any kind of question-and-answer session.

Simply put, if your first time speaking about an issue is at the board meeting, it can be a little late in the game.

Bill Braswell

The Best Time to Get Involved

Why not, instead, reach out to the commissioners earlier in the process? For example, if you see a land use notice that may impact you, or if there’s an upcoming agenda item that effects your community, that’s the best time to get involved.

I’m not suggesting that residents stop coming to board meetings. I’m saying that by also initiating a conversation earlier, your perspective can be part of the information-gathering process.

This may not necessarily sway things toward the outcome you want, but your voice will be heard.

So, I’d love to connect with you if there’s something county-related on your mind. Call my office at (863) 534-6050 to set up an appointment.

Connect With the Board of County Commissioners

Polk County land development and planning

It’s no secret that Polk County is growing. The question is how does Polk County Land Development manage that growth? How do we make sure it’s done in a way that is beneficial to residents? The Office of Planning and Development manages community development and helps to maintain growth through land development regulations and construction codes.


Planning and development tools Polk County, Florida
Photo by Pedro Miranda on Unsplash

Planning and Development Tools for Managing Polk County, Florida Growth

Planning for future Polk County growth all starts with a document known as the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan combines multiple plans to address everything the community needs to thrive, from affordable housing to a sustainable water supply. For more information about Polk County’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code, you can view the Municipality Library.


The Plan guides Polk County’s growth and change by establishing goals, objectives and policies that are tailored to our physical characteristics and development for the betterment of our communities. Developing a comprehensive plan is a complex process, but the idea behind it is simple: Create a guide to orderly development Polk County.

Construction workers in Polk County Florida
Photo by Fox 13 Tampa Bay


With cooperation from other county agencies, Polk County Land Development staff implements the comprehensive plan by reviewing all proposed development, ensuring it will grow the community within the plan’s guidance. But the comprehensive plan is about to change.

Help Shape the Future of Polk County

Polk County has grown and changed significantly since the original plan was created in 1991. We are embarking on a new journey to evolve the plan for a new future. We hope you will participate as we reimagine our plan over the next year and a half.



Staff hopes to welcome public participation in Spring 2024. Please check for further information, or call Chanda Bennett at (863) 534-6484.

Planning for Our Future: Polk County Land Development

health insurance form

As the end of the year approaches, you may be scrambling to renew or find health coverage for the coming year. Depending on your needs, private insurance, employer-offered insurance, Medicaid, Medicare or Florida’s healthcare marketplace insurance may be options for you.

Or, if you do not qualify for Medicaid, the Polk HealthCare Plan may be available to assist you.

 Hundreds of thousands of Florida residents have been disenrolled in Medicaid due to the end of the COVID 19-related public health emergency, leaving them without health insurance.  Also, Florida’s minimum wage recently increased, but many Polk County residents are still facing more financial demands than they can handle.

The Polk HealthCare Plan is not insurance and members do not pay annual deductibles, monthly fees, enrollment fees or submit claim forms. It offers eligible Polk County residents access to healthcare. Members only pay small copays for doctor visits or filled prescriptions.

The Polk HealthCare Plan partners with licensed medical providers in the county to connect low-income Polk residents with the care they need in the areas of primary and specialty care, urgent care, emergency services and behavioral healthcare.

Learn more or see if you’re eligible at

Is the Polk HealthCare Plan An Option?

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