Min­i­mize live Christ­mas tree mess

The Observer (Sarnia) - - HOMES -

A Christ­mas tree is of­ten the cen­ter­piece of hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing. Trees come in many shapes and sizes, both real and ar­ti­fi­cial. Those look­ing for a more au­then­tic tree grav­i­tate to­ward real trees, with their rich, earthy smell and beau­ti­ful boughs of green.

While the sights and smells of real trees are what draw many peo­ple in, live trees do re­quire more main­te­nance than their ar­ti­fi­cial al­ter­na­tives. Fall­ing pine nee­dles and sap are part of the live­tree pack­age, as is reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing and some ini­tial tree prepa­ra­tion. How­ever, those who have their hearts set on a real tree can em­ploy some strate­gies to min­i­mize the mess.

Buy a fresh tree

Christ­mas tree lots may be­gin to crop up be­fore Thanks­giv­ing, mean­ing trees will have been cut and shipped weeks be­fore. The tree you put up in your home may be at least two months old by Christ­mas Day. Also, trees that are open to full sun­light at tree lots can dry out pre­ma­turely.

When shop­ping, look for trees that seem freshly cut and have good nee­dle re­ten­tion. Grab a branch and see if the nee­dles re­main in­tact. Give the tree trunk a bump on the ground and as­sess how many nee­dles drop to the ground. Look at the color of the tree and de­ter­mine if it is wilt­ing. These may be signs that the tree is

old and on its last legs.

Choose the right va­ri­ety

Some va­ri­eties of tree have more stay­ing power af­ter be­ing cut than oth­ers. So-called “true firs,” such as No­ble, Fraser, Nord­mann, and Turk­ish, usu­ally last the long­est. Dou­glas fir, Scotch pine, bal­sam, and grand fir trees also last long af­ter be­ing cut. Spruce trees, which are usu­ally the least ex­pen­sive va­ri­ety on lots, may only last two to three weeks.

Wrap and trans­port

Ask the tree seller to freshly cut the bot­tom of the tree and wrap the en­tire tree in twine so it will be eas

ier to move. Place the tree on the roof of your car with the trunk fac­ing the front of the car. This way the wind will not fan out the branches and loosen up nee­dles.

Choose the right lo­ca­tion

It may seem like a good idea to put the tree right in front of a pic­ture win­dow, but if that win­dow re­ceives am­ple sun­light, the tree may dry out more quickly, lead­ing to fall­ing nee­dles. The same can be said for putting a tree too close to a heat­ing source, like a fire­place, ra­di­a­tor or heat­ing vent. A cool, shaded area is best for keep­ing trees fresher longer. Fit the tree in the stand while it is still out­doors and wrapped up and then move the en­tire prod­uct in­side to the right spot. This helps min­i­mize dirt, bark and nee­dles get­ting all over the room.

Time your re­moval

Re­mov­ing a dried-out tree can be a clean­ing dis­as­ter. It’s bet­ter for the tree to make its exit be­fore it with­ers. A tree can drink a gal­lon of wa­ter per day, so make sure the stand reser­voir is ad­e­quately filled. Over time, though, the tree may stop tak­ing in wa­ter. When this hap­pens, it is best to take down the dec­o­ra­tions and get ready for re­moval. Hid­ing a tree dis­posal bag un­der the tree skirt can make it eas­ier to get the tree out to the curb. Some peo­ple find there’s less mess by clip­ping off the branches and re­mov­ing them in one lump, rather than nav­i­gat­ing a full tree through small door­ways.

Real Christ­mas trees can en­hance hol­i­day sea­son am­biance and set the scene for the fes­tiv­i­ties to come. With the right care and prep work, home­own­ers can cut down on the mess as­so­ci­ated with fresh trees.

METRO CRE­ATIVE GRAPH­ICS PHOTO

Face a tree’s trunk to­ward the front of the car to pre­vent nee­dles from be­com­ing loose and fall­ing off in your home.

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