43. Care and Disposal of Christmas Trees

Since so much time and effort is put into selecting the perfect Christmas
tree, it follows that similar consideration should also be given to giving the
tree the best possible care. Otherwise, there will be disappointment if needles
start to brown or turn yellow, or branches begin to break with days or weeks to
go before the season is over. Safety is also an important reason to take proper
care of your Christmas tree because a drying Christmas tree also presents a
grave danger as a fire hazard. The average Christmas tree should last for about
five to six weeks if the proper care is given to it.
After selecting a Christmas tree and getting it home, the first thing that
should be done is to make a fresh cut and place it into a stand with water. A
Christmas tree shouldn’t be mounted dry and the water in its stand should be
replenished regularly. A fresh cut is made by cutting about an inch off the
bottom in a slight diagonal shape to help the absorption of water. If a fresh
cut isn’t going to be made immediately after getting the tree home, it should be
placed in a container with water and left to stand in a shaded area that is away
from the wind.
If a fresh cut isn’t made and the Christmas tree is left exposed to air, the
vessels for transporting water can become blocked. If this happens, another
fresh cut can correct the problem and the tree would need to be immediately put
in a container with water.
Your Christmas tree should be secure in its stand and it should be placed
away from open flames or sources of heat such as furnaces, fireplaces and air
vents, all of which may dry it out. Decoration of the tree should also begin
after it has been mounted in its stand. Several decoration precautions should be
taken to lessen or avoid the Christmas tree being a fire hazard.
Ornaments that have an open flame or candles should never be used for
decoration. Christmas tree lights should be checked to make sure the bulbs are
working properly, the connections are intact and that no part of the cord is
damaged. If there appears to be any exposed wiring or bulbs that are not working
or which are working intermittently, that string of Christmas tree lights
shouldn’t be used.
A good Christmas tree stand should be selected since water is the most
important item to getting the longest life out of your Christmas tree. In
selecting a stand, find out the amount of water it can hold when a tree is
placed in it. Some water will be displaced from the space taken up by the base
of the tree so it is important that a selection is not made based on the total
volume of water the stand can hold.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the average Christmas tree
may absorb up to one gallon of water each day. It is therefore important to
check the water everyday and replenish it accordingly. To make sure your
Christmas tree gets enough water, the Association recommends that one quart of
water is required for each inch of the diameter of the tree’s trunk.
After Christmas is over and your wonderfully decorated Christmas tree has
provided much joy, it is important to remove it before it dries out. Options to
discard your Christmas will likely depend on the services offered by your
municipality. Some municipalities will pick up Christmas trees on particular
days, with a cut-off date. Some towns may require that residents take their
trees to specific locations, while in others Christmas trees will be picked up
with the garbage, again up to a certain date. But Christmas trees should never
be burned in the fireplace as it can cause the build up of creosote, a
colorless, oily substance.
There’s also the choice that you can continue to get a different use from your
Christmas tree by cutting it to pieces yourself and be environmentally sensitive
by using it for mulch.