Caring For A Christmas Tree

Nothing says Christmas quite like walking into a room filled with the fresh scent of pine needles. To keep your holiday tree fresh and looking its best throughout the New Year, follow these simple tips for Christmas tree care.

Care Tips For Cut Trees

1. Think of your Christmas tree like a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers. Once you get it home, you need to trim the "stem" and get it into water as soon as possible. Before placing it in the stand, remove a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch disk from the base of the trunk. Don't angle the cut or you'll only make it difficult to secure the trunk to the stand, and avoid removing the outer layers of bark. This is the layer that takes up water most efficiently.

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2. If you can't get your tree into a stand right away, place it into a large bucket of water (room temperature is fine) and store it in a cool room like the basement or garage for a few days. This is also a good idea if your tree came home snow covered and you need to let it thaw out a bit before bringing it indoors.

3. Choose a stand with adequate water capacity that is the right size for your tree. Stands should be able to hold a minimum of 1 gallon of water. The rule is to provide at least 1 quart of water per inch of trunk diameter.

4. Check the water level of the tree stand daily. Don't let the water line fall below the bottom of the trunk or it may seal over and be unable to take up water. If this happens, you'll need to saw off a new disk from the base of the trunk.

5. Don't add anything to the water. Christmas tree producers will tell you that the best way to keep a tree fresh is to give it plenty of clean water. Skipping the additives will also prevent Fido or Fluffy from getting sick if they happen to sneak a drink while you're in the kitchen baking cookies.

6. Use a tree skirt. This will help slow water evaporation from the stand and help keep needles, sap (and Fido) out of the water.

7. Position your tree so that it's away from heat ducts, wood stoves, fireplaces and space heaters, which can not only be a fire hazard, but can dry out your tree prematurely.

8. Use low-heat lights to help prevent needles and branches from drying out.

Care Tips for Living Trees

1. Before you purchase a living tree, make sure to select a species of tree that will grow successfully in your zone.

2. Until you bring your tree indoors, store it in an unheated basement or garage or an area that is sheltered from the sun, wind and freezing temperatures.

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3. Keep the soil consistently moist during the tree's stay indoors.

4. Keep the root ball secure. Do not unwrap the root ball or remove the tree from its container. If the tree has been secured with plastic straps, they may be safely removed.

5. Carefully decorate the tree only using lightweight ornaments and lights that do not emit any heat.

6. Don't keep the tree indoors any longer than necessary. Most experts recommend that living trees be planted outdoors after 8 to 10 days.

7. Allow the tree to transition back to outdoor temperatures and light by moving it to a cold garage or basement for a few days before planting it outside.

8. To reduce transplanting time, try to pre dig the hole before you remove the tree from its container. Use dirt dug from the hole as backfill and mulch heavily over the top of the planted root ball to prevent it from freezing.

9. If necessary, protect the tree from damaging winter winds by anchoring it with stakes for the first season.

Important Safety Tips

1. Don't burn pine boughs in your fireplace or woodstove. They can cause creosote buildup quickly in your chimney.

2. Shut off Christmas tree lights before going to bed at night and when leaving the house.

3. Hang fragile and breakable ornaments on higher branches out of the way of pets and children.

4. Do not leave pets home unsupervised with the Christmas tree. If necessary, crate them or keep them in a separate room while no one is home.

5. Avoid artificial snow and sprays, which can be a lung irritant when inhaled.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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