How to choose, care for a real Christmas tree
If you've always had an aluminum or plastic tree, get ready for a treat!
By Matt HickmanSun, Nov 28 2010 at 10:32 AM EST Comments
Nothing says “holiday cheer” like packing up the family on a Saturday morning and heading deep into the woods (aka a U-cut Christmas tree farm or the parking lot of a local supermarket), carefully selecting the most majestic of firs (or pines or spruces), hauling it home, dressing it up all pretty and festooning it with lights and then dragging it to the curb four weeks later — only to be vacuuming up needles from your carpet well into March. It’s a cherished pastime that everybody tackles differently, although plenty of Americans actually bypass this ritual altogether and opt for a made-in-China vinyl tree that is resurrected from the garage or basement year after year.
Since we at MNN like to “keep it real,” we thought we’d pass along a few pointers on how to select, care for and dispose of non-artificial Christmas trees to those of you who may be doing “the tree thing” for the first time or making the switch from trees of the lead-shedding, PVC variety to the real deal.
Although tree farms may offer trees of different shapes, sizes and species (Douglas and Fraser firs and Scotch pines are among the most popular), most commercial tree farms aren’t like supermarkets that may have a separate produce section offering organic fruits and veggies. However, there are a growing number of trees farms that exclusively grow organic (some USDA-certified) trees that haven’t been treated with agricultural chemicals.
Organic Christmas trees will most likely cost you more, but if bringing home a chemical-free tree is a concern, check out this database of organic tree farms. Some lots may also specialize in organic trees.
Once you’ve performed a feng shui evaluation and secured your tree in a space in your home that’s a safe distance from direct sunlight and sources of heat or ventilation and that’s easy to access for watering purposes (fresh trees can absorb a gallon of water a day so if you have rain barrels, use ’em) it’s trimming time.
Start with the lights. LED lights last longer, will reduce drying of the tree and are more energy-efficient than incandescent light strands. Companies like HolidayLEDS.com even have Christmas light recycling programs that allow you to send in old incandescent lights for recycling and get a discount on the purchase of new LED lights.
When it comes to ornaments, if you already have a stash, use them. But if you don’t have an existing stockpile of glittering globes, try decorating the tree with ornaments found in nature like berries, pinecones, discarded bird nests, dried flowers and … stale popcorn. There’s no need to spend a fortune on decorations when a tree can look beautiful with items found in your own backyard. And if you’re DIY minded, whip out the glitter and the glue gun and make — and bake — your own ornaments.