Eco Christmas Tree 101: Best Practices for Live and Cut Trees
There is nothing like the smell of a Christmas tree. Once you bring it into the home, a Christmas tree will bring holiday joy when you add lights, decorations, and a beautiful star to top off the awesomeness. But to get the most out of the experience, you will need to learn how to take care of your Christmas tree.
And that’s true whether you purchase a cut tree or a live one.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Kind of Christmas Tree Should You Buy?
If you want a fresh tree, you have a couple of choices. You can purchase a cut tree and place it in a Christmas tree stand once you bring it into your home. The way you care for a cut tree is different from how you care for a live tree.
If you prefer to buy a live tree, it will typically come in a small pot with dirt. You will care for this type of tree much the same way you would care for a potted plant. And stayed tuned, because, in a bit, we’ll show you how to plant your live tree in your yard.
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How to Care for a Cut Christmas Tree
Taking care of a cut Christmas tree is simple, but these few steps will go a long way in ensuring that your tree stays fresh and doesn’t dry out. Start by acclimating the tree before bringing it into your home.
This is important because if you carry the tree from the cold retail store environment into your heated home, it could stress the tree and cause it to dry out.
And a dry Christmas tree could be a safety hazard. (Not to mention all the pine needles you will have to sweep on a daily basis!)
Place the tree in an unheated area of your home such as the garage or outdoor storage shed for one to two days before bringing it in the home. Next, cut about an inch off the base of the tree. Doing so will allow the Christmas tree to absorb more water.
Finally, fill the Christmas tree stand with water and secure the tree inside of it. Every week or so, check the water level to ensure that it hasn’t evaporated. Be sure to place the tree in an out-of-the-way spot so no one trips over the lighting plug or accidentally knocks over the tree.
How to Care for a Live Christmas Tree
Whether your live Christmas tree is small or large determines how you will care for it. If your tree is small, it is likely planted in a container with soil. In this case, you should check the soil every few days, and if it’s dry, water it.
If your Christmas tree is live, it likely has a root ball attached to it and is not planted in a container. This type of tree should be held up by a Christmas tree stand just as a cut tree is. The difference is that the root ball, as long as it stays moist, will keep the tree alive.
No matter which type of tree you have, it’s important to keep it moist so that it doesn’t become dry. Also, just as with a cut tree, place the live tree out of the way and far away from any heating devices or fireplaces. Be sure to turn off the lights on the tree before going to bed.
How to Plant a Live Christmas Tree
If you plan to plant your Christmas tree in your yard after Christmas, you will have to take some steps beforehand to ensure success. For starters, you should look for a Christmas tree with a root ball. If the root ball has already been cut from the tree, it cannot be planted.
Next, look for a smaller tree. Smaller Christmas trees have a better chance of taking root and thriving when you plant them. Once you find the tree, let it sit outdoors in the cold until you are ready to bring it indoors. The reason for this is that the tree is in dormancy when it is cold, and it needs to be in this state when it is planted.
Once you bring the tree to the heated indoors, it will begin to come out of its dormancy stage. That means the most you can keep the tree indoors for one to one-and-a-half weeks. Any longer than that will reduce the chances of a successful planting because the tree might not adapt to the outdoor conditions again.
Take the tree outdoors and allow it to sit in the cold for about a week so it will go back into dormancy. Then, dig a hole. Take the burlap covering off the root ball and plant the tree in the hole. Backfill it with dirt, cover the area with some good, organic mulch, and water the tree.
You should wait until spring to fertilize your newly planted Christmas tree.
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How to Properly Dispose of a Christmas Tree
If you bought a cut Christmas tree, you will have to dispose of it once you take down the tree.
You have several options when it comes to disposing of your Christmas tree. But before you make plans, you should remove all of the decorations, lighting, tree skirt, and anything else you used to adorn the tree.
Next, place a plastic bag over the tree before you haul it out of the house. Because the tree is likely drier than when you brought it into the house, the needles will fall off in mass. A plastic bag will reduce the number of needles on your floor.
After you’ve taken the wrapped Christmas tree outdoors, it’s time to clean up inside. Don’t use a vacuum cleaner to pick up the pine needles because they can clog your machine. Instead, use a broom and dustbin to gather the needles.
Finally, check for water damage on your floor where the Christmas tree stood. You were good to ensure the stand didn’t go dry, but now you will need to ensure that water didn’t overflow on your floor. Mop us any standing water and dry the area.
Now, it’s time to figure out how to dispose of the Christmas tree. Here are your options.
Recycle the tree
Trees are natural materials, which makes them perfect for recycling. Depending on where you live, you could contact the city or town mulch center, the forest department, or even the fire department. Check your local area to determine which organization accepts Christmas trees for recycling purposes.
Also, you can choose to recycle the tree yourself. Start by standing the tree up in your yard and allowing the birds to make a home in it. Then, as the pine needles begin to fall off and the tree becomes bare, you can put it through a wood chipper and use the chips to mulch your garden.
Another way to recycle the tree yourself is to cut it up and sink the larger branches and trunk areas in a pond. The fish will use the tree as a natural habitat. Eventually, the tree will decompose, but before it does, it will provide some wildlife with a safe place to live.
You can also use parts of the Christmas tree for crafts for now or next year. For instance, one way you can recycle part of the tree is to look for branches that aren’t yet dried out and use them to make wreaths and other pretty decorations. After all, Christmas decorations are often enjoyed well beyond the New Year!
You can also cut off the trunk in circles and use them for Christmas decorations next year. Simply cut the trunk so that you have circles and cut a hole in the top of each one. Now, you have a blank slate you can use to make unique decorations for next year’s Christmas tree.
Leave it out for pick up
Some municipalities offer to pick up Christmas trees from local residents. Call your city or town and ask if they provide these services. If so, you will leave your Christmas tree at the curb, and on a prearranged day, the city truck will pick it up.
Put it in the bin
If your city doesn’t provide pick up for Christmas trees, you can reduce the tree into manageable parts that will fit in your waste bin. Start by removing pine needles from the branches. Then, carefully cut off the bare branches into small pieces.
After you’ve removed all of the branches, cut the trunk into pieces that will fit inside your trash can. If your city offers recycling trashcans, be sure to place the cut-up tree into the one reserved for organic matter. Try to cut the pieces as small as possible to make the job of emptying it easier for the workers.
Call a nonprofit
Many nonprofits, such as the Boy Scouts, offer Christmas tree pick up services. While the service is free, many people offer a small “thank you” to the nonprofit for the service.
By using one of these organizations for your Christmas tree pickup, you can get rid of your tree and donate to your favorite cause in one swoop.
Christmas Tree Care Is Easy Once You Know How
Buying, decorating, and disposing of a Christmas tree involves a lot, but luckily, the entire process is easy. If you understand all of the factors before you purchase your tree, you can make better choices about which type of tree best suits your family.
Do you have a favorite? Let us know why in the comments below!
Last update on 2021-01-18 at 15:04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API