Christmas Tree Care

Christmas Tree Care

Trimming the bottom branches of a live Christmas tree

Prevent your live Christmas tree from becoming hazardous or catching fire as it dries out. Knowing how to keep your cut Christmas tree fresh through the holidays will keep your home cheery and holiday spirit safe.

toddsmariettatreeservices.com gathered information on how to select, care for, set up, and eventually dispose of your live Christmas tree.

Fresh Christmas Trees

The first measure of care for your live Christmas tree is selecting a fresh, vibrant tree. Consider the following when looking for the perfect tree:

Christmas tree selection and transportation
  • The tree’s needles must be fresh and resilient. Gently hold one of the branches about six inches in from the tip. Then, between your forefinger and thumb, pull your hand in so the branch slides between your fingers. Needles shouldn’t snap or fall off the tree. If they do, move on to the next one.
  • Lift the tree and lightly bounce it on the ground to ensure needles are firmly attached all around the tree. Check for any needles falling off. A tree is considered fresh if only a couple of needles come off after being bounced.
  • The tree should have a vibrant green color and a pleasant fragrance to it.
  • Fresh trees have more moisture and are therefore more fragrant with firmer needles, provided they are kept cool, out of the sun, and in stands with fresh water.
  • Limbs of the tree should be sturdy enough to hold your decorations and lights.

Note: Even if you cut down your own tree, you should take the time to verify its freshness and resilience before making the cut. Drought, disease, and infestation can cause a pine tree to dry out or become brittle.

Tip: When you search for the perfect tree, take along one or two of your heaviest ornaments. Hang them on a limb to “measure” the limbs’ sturdiness.

Ornaments to test a Christmas tree strength

How to Keep a Christmas Tree Alive

Before taking your tree indoors, you can give it the best possible chance of surviving the holiday season by addressing the following:

Tree Location – Go to the intended location of the tree and make sure that:

  • The tree will not be near any heat sources (fireplace, televisions, radiator, etc.)
  • There are no heating/AC vents directed at the location
  • There is enough space so the tree can stand without touching any surrounding walls
  • The location has “low to no” traffic
  • The tree will be in a cool and shaded location
  • Outlets can be easily reached

Note: In smaller homes with limited space, select a smaller live tree or use an artificial tree.

Tree Preparation – Before taking your tree indoors, there are three things to do:

  1. Vigorously shake or bounce the tree to remove any loose needles
  2. Cut a 1/2” disc from the bottom of the tree trunk
  3. Attach the tree stand with a water reservoir (minimum 1-quart capacity)

Tip: The tree trunk base should be submerged in water as quickly as possible after being cut. Waiting too long may result in the tree naturally “sealing” the wound, preventing it from taking up water.

Tree Watering – There are multiple myths and numerous concoctions regarding what a tree needs to stay fresh. However, if you have prepared the tree’s location and freshly cut the trunk base, plain tap water will help the tree stay fresh and vibrant. Consider the following:

  1. The reservoir of your tree stand should hold at least a gallon of water
  2. The tree must “drink.” If it is not taking up water, cut another 1/2” disk from the trunk and immediately return it to the water
  3. On the first day, the tree will likely consume one gallon or more of water
  4. Your tree will then consume around a pint of water per day (check it daily)
  5. Avoid using any additives to the water (plain water is adequate)
  6. Do not let the tree run out of water
Watering a Christmas tree to keep it fresh and vibrant

Water is essential, as it prevents the tree from drying out, needles from dropping off, and the boughs from drooping. Water is also the key to keeping your tree fragrant through the season.

Tip: Before leaving the tree lot or nursery where you bought the tree, make sure they will replace the tree if it does not take up water.

Lighting a Christmas Tree

How you decide to light your tree may have a tremendous influence on its ability to retain moisture and stay fresh.

Over the past few decades, tree lights have gotten smaller, more numerous, and safer. It is highly discouraged to use traditional incandescent bulbs (with a wire filament) on live trees as they heat up, accelerating the drying process.

LED (Light Emitting Diodes) Christmas tree lighting has surged in popularity for their durability and energy efficiency. These lights don’t have filaments, so they produce considerably less heat than traditional incandescent lights.

Christmas tree led lights to prevent fast drying

Read More about lighting your Christmas tree at toddsmariettatreeservices.com/choosing-lighting-christmas-tree/

Christmas Tree Disposal

When you’re finished with your tree or it has dried out, you have multiple options. Consider the following ways of disposal:

  • Start a new compost pile
  • Take it to a recycling center
  • Chip and use it as mulch
  • Submerse the tree in a pond
  • Ask your municipality if they offer pickup and disposal options
Dried out Christmas tree ready for disposal

Tip: Once you’ve removed the tree from your home, getting up all of those fallen needles may pose a challenge. Avoid frustration by using your vacuum’s hose (no attachment needed) to quickly draw up the needles.

Note: When pine trees are chipped and used as mulch, they lower the soil’s pH, making it more acidic.

How to Keep a Christmas Tree Alive

In this article, you discovered valuable information about selecting, caring for, setting up, and disposing of your live, fresh-cut tree.

When you invest the time to properly care for your live Christmas tree, you give it the means to stay fresh and vibrant throughout the holidays.

Not caring for your Christmas tree can result in the tree’s accelerated dying and drying, creating an extreme fire hazard potentially ending in catastrophic fire damage to your home.

Sources:
web.extension.illinois.edu/trees/selection.cfm
sdda.sd.gov/legacydocs/Forestry/educational-information/PDF/Care-Real-Christmas-Tree.pdf
extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/fnr/fnr-423-w.pdf
mncta.com/tree-care
goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/christmas-ideas/a24803/tips-to-keep-a-christmas-tree-fresh/

Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

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