Live Christmas tree tips
’Tis the season for some tips on caring for a Christmas tree
Paper or plastic? Tinsel or stardust? You can put just about anything on a Christmas tree and it will look oh-so splendid. Choices abound when it comes to garlands and ornaments and lighting. Multitudes of products are available to provide a fragrant scent and artificial snow. Nevertheless, the frills are secondary when it comes to your tree's wellbeing. The number-one concern for those who insist on a live tree is how to help it thrive in an indoor environment. Some live Christmas tree tips are in order.
Some tips on selecting a live tree
Tree shopping is more than impulse buying. The decisions begin in the home. Will you want a small tree that can be placed on a table? Do you prefer a large tree that instantly becomes the focal point of the room? How wide are your doorways? How high are your ceilings? Where are the electrical outlets? Decide where the tree will be displayed and how much room for it is needed. Some pre-planning will guide your purchase and help you avoid falling in love with a bad choice.
Keep in mind that your vertical space is not solely occupied by the tree. Some of that vertical space will be claimed by the height of the tree stand at the bottom and the height of the tree topper—the angel, star or big Santa face that tops the tree. Those measurements count, so carefully determine the height of the space you wish occupied by the tree. Then, deduct measurements corresponding to the height of your tree-topper ornament, the tree stand and the height of any table or base upon which the tree will sit.
It's a safe bet to subtract six inches or so that will be sawed off from the bottom of the tree before placing the trunk end into its stand. The six-inch lopping does two things, if the saw cut is carefully done. It constructs a horizontal plane so that the tree stands properly in its base. It also exposes a new, fresh layer of wood that is better able to draw up water from the reservoir of the tree stand. The cutting will be easier if your saw is sharp. Other handy implements include garden supplies such as sturdy gardening gloves, shears, compact trimmers and green florists wire for securing strings of lights.
Some tips for recognizing freshness in a tree
A tree selected while it's still in the ground, growing on acreage owned by a reputable tree farm, will of course be fresh. Those trees are tended throughout the year. They are checked on a rigid schedule for pests and tree diseases. The safeguards are valued by customers who come to trust dealers that take pride in their stock. Tree hygiene is important.
Some years ago, the importance of tree hygiene was brought to the forefront when there were reported instances of people cutting trees in the wild and toting them home. These penny pinchers brought the winter-chilled trees indoors and set about decorating them. It was only when the trees warmed up to room temperature that legions of ticks began stirring. The insects were dormant until they were treated to a warm and cozy living room environment. Once awakened, they crawled off the trees and infested their newfound residences.
Therefore, a tree farm perhaps is the safest choice for ensuring quality and variety—pines, spruces, balsams and firs are popular choices. But not everyone can travel to a tree farm. Community sites offering trees spring up in neighborhoods everywhere—sometimes before Thanksgiving. Entrepreneurs drive a truck down south, gather up trees at a good price and travel back north to resell their wares. That's a tradition, especially in many parts of the east coast. It also is a convenience for area residents. Choose a tree that will last far past the holiday by closely looking at everything.
• Are the branches sturdy?
• Are the needles resilient?
• Are the needles well attached?
• Does the bark look healthy?
• Are there any bugs or webs?
• Is there any yellowing or mildew?
• Are there any worm holes?
• Is the color a vivid, healthy green?
• Is the tree well shaped?
• Is the top intact and attractive?
Think Santa. Think snow. Have visions of sugarplums. But always think safety. Supervise children who may want to touch ornaments suspended from tree branches on high. Educate them about the laws of gravity. Make sure electrical outlets are not overloaded. Keep pets away from the tree. A little forethought makes for a merry Christmas, indeed. Ho-ho-ho.