Christmas Tree Care
There’s nothing like the scent of a fresh and fragrant Christmas tree to put you in the holiday spirit. While a live tree is slightly higher maintenance than an artificial one, as long as you take care of it, the natural tree will provide authentic holiday cheer for the whole season. Keep reading to find out how to best care for your Christmas tree.
Stop by your local True Value hardware store for all the tools, products and expert advice you need to start right.
Step 1. Choose the Right Tree
Selecting the perfect tree is essential when it comes to decorating for Christmas. Get the best tree you can to ensure it lasts and looks great the entire holiday season. There are a lot of Christmas tree options out there from which to choose. Here are some examples of the most common trees that are out there, at both Christmas tree lots and tree farms:
- Douglas Fir. These are the most common trees available. They are usually the most inexpensive as well. Their needles are short, soft and bluish-green. These trees are also infamous for losing their needles quickly. They need plenty of water to avoid shedding.
- Scotch Pine. Another common tree type, they are usually more expensive than the Douglas Fir but they also retain their needles better and last longer. Needles are dark green.
- Blue Spruce. These trees have stiff needles that are a silvery green color. When watered adequately, these trees can last for a month and still look great.
If you are cutting your own Christmas tree, there are likely many tree farms in your area that will allow you to choose a tree and cut it down yourself. If you’ll be cutting your own, be sure you leave the house with a hand saw, some twine, a blanket for when you strap the tree to your vehicle and some gloves to protect your hands.
If you will be buying a pre-cut tree, make sure it is freshly cut. Touch the needles and branches to see if a significant amount comes off in your hand. Lightly bang the base of the tree on the ground; if an excessive amount of needles falls off, the tree is not fresh. Test the limbs to see if they are sturdy enough to hold the weight of ornaments. Also, if the tree is fresh, you should be able to smell the tree’s fragrance easily. The tree should be a dark green color all over with no areas of brown needles. Check to be sure that the bottom of the tree trunk is sticky with resin. Needles should not break when bent between your fingers. As when cutting down a tree yourself, bring twine and a blanket for strapping the tree to the top of your car, if you don’t have a truck or similar vehicle with the room to stow the tree for the trip to your home.
Step 2. Find the Right Spot
A little forethought will help avoid any problems once you have your tree and start decorating for Christmas. Take the time to measure the dimensions of your room. Use a measuring tape to check the height, bearing in mind the dimensions of your tree stand. It’s a good idea to leave at least 6" from the ceiling to the top of your tree. Don’t forget to ensure that the room is wide enough for the size of tree you want if you’re going to place the tree in a corner or alcove. Write these measurements down. Take your tape measure with you when you go to purchase the tree to be sure that the Christmas tree you select will fit.
When you get your new tree home, be sure to put it into a bucket of water as you prepare to erect it. Don’t place the tree in high-traffic areas where it could get knocked over by children or pets or where your family could trip over tree light electrical cords. Trees are usually best placed in a corner or in front of a window for optimal effect.
- Never place your Christmas tree near a heat source, such as a radiator or fireplace, as this can present a fire hazard.
- Consider anchoring the tree to a wall with a thin rope or heavy-duty string and an eyebolt as an added safety feature to help stabilize the tree. You can use this safety feature and easily hide it so that it doesn’t detract from your tree’s appearance.
Step 3. Give It Water
Keep your tree alive and fresh by giving it water daily. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times. The average tree can soak up to a gallon of water a day. When choosing a tree stand, be sure to find out how much water the stand holds when a tree is in it. Consider using Tree Preserve, a water additive that extends the life of the tree, keeps it greener longer, and helps prevent the needles from drying out. Remember, a thriving tree stays green longer and it makes it less of a safety hazard, as water keeps the tree moist and more fire-resistant.
- A dry tree can be a fire hazard. Before stringing lights on the tree, make sure the bulbs and the light string itself is in working order and intact without fraying or tears. Use lights rated for indoor use only.
- When the tree is plugged in, be careful when watering to avoid electric shock.
Step 4. Decorate It
Here’s the fun part! Decorate the tree the way you want. When adding lights to your Christmas tree, work from the inside, close to the tree trunk and out toward the tips of the branches. When you reach the tip of a branch, wrap your way back toward the trunk. Mini lights and C7 Christmas lights are typically used to decorate indoor trees. Ask the experts at your local True Value hardware store for assistance in choosing the right bulbs for your tree.
- Consider using LED holiday lights. They’re more efficient than regular light strings and don’t put off as much heat.
Step 5. Recycle It
After the holiday season, don’t just throw out your tree with the trash. Dispose of it properly by recycling or mulching it yourself. Many municipalities have recycling centers where you can take your tree or have it picked up for recycling. Check with your local officials to see what options are available.
Happy holidays! With good care, a Christmas tree can easily stay fresh for a month or even longer.