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Make It A Greener Holiday!

There's just something wonderful about bundling up the family and heading out to a tree farm to look for that perfect holiday tree. Experts agree that live or cut trees are the best choice for protecting our environment. Tree farms stabilize soil, protect water quality and provide refuge for wildlife. Also, growing trees absorb harmful carbon dioxide and emit fresh oxygen. In fact, just one acre of Christmas trees produces the daily oxygen supply for 18 people. Real Christmas trees are also recyclable. Be a Conservation Crusader today and follow these important cut Christmas tree care tips for a safe and environmentally friendly holiday.

Selecting a tree

Get a healthy tree - Don't buy a tree that is losing green needles, or has dry, brittle twigs or a sour, musty smell.

Size of the tree – Decide where your tree will be placed in the home and measure the space. Trees look larger at tree lots and tree farms with the sky as their ceiling. Take a tape measure and measure the tree before you purchase or cut. It is a common mistake to buy a tree that is too large for the space. You can distort the balanced shape of a tree by removing too much of the bottom if you need to reduce the size because you purchased a tree that is too large.

Shaking the tree - When purchasing a tree from a choose-n-cut farm, have the producer mechanically the tree, if possible. Otherwise, shake the tree prior to putting it in the stand. This will help eliminate dead, loose needles.

Transporting the tree

Wrap the tree - It is best to wrap the tree in a tarp, or carry it in an enclosed camper or the back of a pick-up. But if you must transport the tree on the top of your car, put the bottom of the tree aiming forward to protect the needles from being blown off.

Tie it securely! - If the tree is carried on the outside of a vehicle, tie it securely.

Storing the tree before bring it in the house

Keep out of the sunlight - Do not leave a cut Christmas tree lying in the sunshine for long periods of time, especially if air temperatures are warm. Fresh trees dry rapidly in those circumstances.

Keep it in water - If a tree cannot be immediately displayed in water, make a fresh cut on the base of the trunk, and stand it in a bucket of water in a cool, shaded location, either indoors or outdoors.

Setting up the tree in your stand

Cut off a disk of wood about 0.5 to 1 inch (1.25 to 2.5 cm) thick from the base of the trunk immediately before putting the tree in the stand. Do not cut at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree plumb in the stand, and reduces the amount of water available to the tree. Do not bruise the end of the trunk or get it dirty.

Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not affect water uptake. The use of drilled/pin type devices to supply water directly to holes drilled in the tree is not as effective as displaying the tree in a more traditional type of stand.

Use a stand that fits your tree. Some stands have circular rings at the top, so the ring must be large enough so the trunk goes through the hole. Other stands are open, which allows more range in trunk size. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed. Use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity (one gallon if available) for the tree. Check the tree often and maintain water in the stand. If the stand goes dry and is subsequently refilled, water uptake may stop or be severely limited, leading to premature drying.

No chemicals – Only COLD water. Do not use chemicals in the stand to prevent evaporation. Evaporation from the surface of water in the stand is negligible, compared to the loss from transpiration. Do not use additives in water, including floral preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks, aspirin, honey, or other concoctions. Do not use water holding gels in the stand. They reduce the amount of water available to trees. Hot water will not make a difference in water uptake. Clean water is the only requirement to maintain freshness.

Decorating your tree

Keep away from heat - Keep displayed trees away from point sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, and direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow drying, resulting in less water consumption.

Lights - Use only UL approved lights and electrical cords and devices on trees. Check electrical cords and lights for damage prior to placement on the tree.

Placement of ornaments - Hang all ornaments that are breakable, have small, detachable parts or metal hooks, or that look like food or candy on higher branches where small children can't reach them.

Pets - Keep pets out of the room in which the tree is placed, if you can't be there to supervise. Cats are known for leaping onto Christmas trees, especially when pursued by another pet. Use a ceiling hook to keep the tree from toppling. Both cats and dogs can knock down and break glass ornaments, and then cut themselves on the pieces. Pets may also gnaw on electrical cords for Christmas tree lights. So hide them when possible, or help prevent injury by purchasing a pet-proof cover for the wiring.

Turn off tree lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

Disposing of your tree

Recycle or compost your tree when the holidays are over. For more information on recycling or composting your tree contact your local county soil and water conservation district.

Information gathered from National Christmas Tree Association and the Pick Your Own Christmas Tree Association.

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