Not long until Christmas, so it’s high time to get a Christmas tree. Can you hit him yourself? Can you transport it by car? And how do you dispose of it? Read here what is allowed and what is not.

If you have conifers in your own garden, you could choose the “most beautiful tree” of the year from your own stock. Or?

Before felling trees on private property, you should check with your local council to see if they have a “Tree Protection Bylaw”. This regulates the conditions under which you may fell a tree in your own garden (e.g. trees with a certain trunk circumference are protected and may not be felled). A violation of the tree protection statute can be expensive.

On the other hand, if you want to fell your tree yourself, it is best to contact the local forestry office. There they can provide you with information on where the appropriate conservation areas are located in the municipal area on which the logging sites are located. Sometimes you have to submit a corresponding application – the forest administration will also explain this to you. The same applies to the costs incurred for cutting down trees. Appointments are usually offered on site with forest workers, who sometimes also help with the felling.

Under no circumstances should you cut down a Christmas tree yourself without the necessary permission in a “night and nebula action”. This is legally considered theft and can result in a fine. If the tree is worth less than 50 euros, it will only be regularly followed up at the request of the owner. The procedure is often discontinued against payment of a monetary condition.

If you damage surrounding plants and trees during your illegal tree felling operation, a possible penalty (e.g. property damage) will be increased. And if you even enter a fenced-off area, you are also committing a crime of breach of the peace. These principles also apply if it is a private forest.

Ingo Lenssen has been working as a freelance lawyer on Lake Constance since 1990. His main areas of expertise are criminal law and inheritance law. With his TV shows, Lenßen has been on the screen for many years. In his program “Lenßen live – Die Recht-Sprech-Hour” (SAT.1 Gold) he helps those affected live to solve their legal problems. Now there is legal life support from professionals in the guide book “Lenßen hilft!”.

The Christmas tree must be stowed and secured in such a way that it does not pose a danger to other road users. For example, it must not slip when braking suddenly. The following applies to transport in the trunk or on the car roof:

Whether in the trunk or on the roof: If the fir tree top protrudes more than one meter beyond the vehicle’s reflectors, it must be marked with a bright red flag, a cloth or a sign measuring at least 30 x 30 centimeters. Because the tree transport during the Christmas season often takes place at dusk or at night, a red lamp must also be installed. If you don’t secure the load properly or if the red flag is missing, you risk a fine.

If you want to set up the Christmas tree in front of the house, it must be secured and not interfere with the sidewalk. Anything that obstructs escape routes or poses a risk of fire has no place in the stairwell.

If someone stumbles over the Christmas decorations in the stairwell or if the escape route is not freely accessible in an emergency, the person who decorated it is responsible for the damage.

Outdoor decorations are to be secured against storms. For example, Christmas trees on the balcony must be adequately secured and must not be too close to the railing so that they cannot fall onto the street. Therefore, check the attachment regularly.

If you use wax candles on the tree, special care is required. Because a Christmas tree burns up quickly. Dried up needles act like a fire accelerator here. If the fire spreads to the home furnishings, household contents insurance usually compensates for the damage – regardless of whether it was caused by fire or extinguishing water. Damage to the gifts is also covered. Fire insurance covers damage to the house.

Note: If the insurer can prove gross negligence – for example, if you left real candles burning on the tree unattended – the insurance company can reduce its benefit according to the severity of the allegation.

You should refrain from simply throwing the Christmas tree out the window after Epiphany. This may be customary in Sweden, but in this country you can be prosecuted. For example, through negligent bodily harm when a passer-by is hit. You are also liable for any damage to property; if the tree, for example, damages a parked vehicle as a projectile.

Also, under no circumstances should you dispose of your Christmas tree wildly, for example by placing it in the adjacent forest. If you are caught doing so, you may face a hefty fine. In Bavaria, 50 euros are due for this.

As a rule, the municipalities collect the undecorated trees free of charge on certain days after the turn of the year. Pay attention to the announcement of dates and public collection points in the municipal waste calendar, in the daily newspaper or on the homepage of your municipality. Some municipalities also offer collection dates that can be arranged individually or refer to the (subject to a fee) drop-off option at the recycling centers.

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