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» Choose a Real Christmas Tree

How Did I Do It? > Holidays & Celebrations > Choose a Real Christmas Tree
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Many of us will select an artificial tree for our holiday tree, however some of us will choose to purchase a real tree, for the scent of the tree and the visions of outdoors and ancient holidays that it gives us.

One is truly no better or worse than another. My personal viewpoint is that the trees we purchase are by and large grown specifically for the holiday season and as such purchasing one of them for use during the holiday season is not truly a detriment to the environment as they were not gleaned from ancient forests, were planted simply to be cut and are in fact superior to the artificial tree in that they are at least biodegradable and able to be recycled as firewood, or compost.

Selecting a tree for use in your home is fun for the whole family, particularly if you are lucky enough to be able to go to a site where you can cut your own tree.

If your home is not near an area where you can go as a familiy to cut your tree and bring it home, then you will need to select one from those which are precut and for sale then certain considerations enter into play.

Buy only freshly cut trees:

This means that those which have been shipped from many hundred miles away are not an option for you. Ask where the trees were grown, and how far they were shipped to arrive in your area. Freshly cut trees are going to last far longer and are less likely to be a fire hazard than those which were cut a few weeks prior and shipped to your area.

Test the tree

To test for freshness, bend a needle or two very sharply in your fingers. If it is even slightly brittle, or breaks do not purchase the tree. A freshly cut tree will have the ability to spring back into its original position when bent between a thumb and forefinger. If it breaks or does not spring back, the tree is not something you want to take into your home.

Most real trees will shed needles as they begin to dry, and in fact, shed needles even in their natural surroundsing. From best to worst for shedding, pine, Douglas fir, spruce and hemlock, with hemlock being the one that will shed the most needles when used inside.

Setting up your tree

Prior to setting up your tree, cut off about an inch at the base of it. This is done because the sap has sealed the trunk and the water will by and large not be able to be absorbed, while if it is sawn freshly then the water can be absorbed and will keep the tree fresher longer.

Set your tree up as far away from a heat source as possible, to minimize drying and fire hazards, because of their high resin content, dried evergreens are highly flammable and you want to also mimimize this aspect of them.

When trimming your tree prior to decorating it, the branches you remove will make excellent mulch for your outdoor plants and shrubs. They can be mulched, or if you have no shredder, laid whole across the plants you are protecting.

One thing that has become popular is that instead of purchasing a cut tree, many families opt for a tree with an intact root ball, which, when the holidays are over, they plant outside. This is an ideal way to go in that it will serve in two or three ways, enhancing the earth and your landscape long after the holidays are over.

In cold weather sites, such as the north or mid west, when taking your live tree from inside to outside you will want to mulch the soil well before christmas, so that it does not freeze as hard and you are able to get the tree into the ground. One alternative is to dig the hole before the ground freezed, to mulch it well and then when the tree is planted, to use topsoil or bagged potting soil to fill the hole.

Before planting the tree, get it accustomed to going from inside to outside by holding it for a few days in an unheated shed or garage prior to actually planting it in the ground.

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