Christmas Tree Care and Disposal

Caring for your Fresh Cut Christmas Tree:

So, now you are home with your fresh cut tree ~ how do you keep it fresh? Much of the weight if the tree is water, so, just like a vase of roses, water is what it wants. A cut tree trunk will seal over within 6-12 hours or so, but with a "fresh cut" it will soak up water. Following the tips below will maintain that just-cut look, feel, and fragrance.

  • If you purchased your tree at a choose & cut farm, put it in water as soon as you get it home (your stand or a bucket). If you bought it from a retail store or tree lot, and did not get a fresh cut at the time of purchase, you should make a "fresh cut", then put the tree in water.
  • To make a fresh cut, just saw about one-half inch off the bottom of the trunk. Do not make an angled cut, or remove bark above the water line. The tree needs its outer bark layer to adequately drink water. Drilling a hole in the bottom of the trunk does not help it drink.
  • Use a tree stand that is the appropriate size for your tree. There are many styles available, but things to look for are:
    1. how much water does it hold?
    2. how big is the opening for the trunk?
    3. how stable does it seem to be?
    These things become more important the larger your tree choice. (see Tall Tree Tips)
  • All Christmas tree varieties have a quantity of old, dry needles within the older branches of the tree. The bulk of these will fall off readily, and can be removed easily before you put the tree in its stand. Simply repeatedly drop the tree trunk on an outdoor surface until most of the needles have fallen. This will simplify cleanup during your holiday season. Fraser Firs needles rarely become dry enough to fall off throughout even a month of indoor display.
  • If you are not quite ready to set up your tree yet, you can store it for several days in a cool location, out of direct sunlight in a bucket that is kept full of water.
  • Location: avoid setting up your tree near heaters, any source of heat or flame, or in direct sunlight. Lower your room temperature during the holiday season. These precautions will slow the tree's drying process, and require less water.
  • Curious children or pets can cause trouble. Keep these things in mind:
    1. Sharp-needled species, such as many spruce varieties, discourage tender fingers or climbing cats
    2. use unbreakable decorations within hand or paw reach - keep your precious ornaments up high
    3. secure light and extension cords out of reach of small hands or tiny teeth
  • Water, water, water... check the tree stand daily to be sure the water level is above the bottom of the trunk. Preservatives or other additives are not needed if your tree was given a fresh cut.
  • Lights: Older models of tree lights give off the most heat, and will dry out surrounding needles sooner than the more modern miniature lights. But for a great compormise, try the new LED tree lights! They come in 2 or 3 sizes, have a birght color display, and remain cool to the touch. They also claim to use 1/30th the amount of energy as miniature lights, saving you money as well. Whatever your choice, inspect light strings for damage, take care not to overload your eletrical outlets, and keep cords out of harm's way.
    Always unplug or turn off your decorative lights before leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Signs of dryness:
    1. needles fall off easily when you run your hand along a branch
    2. a branch will snap like a dry twig
    3. Limbs will be droopy (esp in pines)
    Hint: choosing a Fraser Fir will ensure the longest display time for your holiday decorating. Studies show that the Fraser ranks high in needle-retention, and dries out more slowly than most varieties.
  • After the holidays, or of your tree has become too dry, remove it from the house, and find a convenient recycling method near you.

Have a safe a care-free holiday!


Tree Disposal or Recycling:

Real Christmas Trees are biodegradable, which means they can be easily reused or recycled for mulch and other purposes.
To learn about the many ways that Real Christmas Trees are being recycled and reused in communities nationwide, follow the links below.

This list courtesy of the NCTA

Tall Tree Tips:
Do you have room for a tall Christmas tree? Here are some suggestions:

  • Choose a tree stand with a wide base and a large water capacity. A good rule of thumb is one quart per one inch of tree trunk diameter.
    A stable base and more water provides a counter-balance to the wieght of the tree.
    Stands usually come with a tree height or trunk diameter rating.
  • If you can, inconspicuously tie off the tree to a wall, mantle, or staircase to prevent accidental tipping.
  • Is the tree trunk too big for the stand? Get a new stand the fits! Whittling the trunk only serves to remove the bark layer needed by the tree to absorb water.