Stores, malls and online retailers are already trying to get you in the spirit of the season, but nothing marks the beginning of the Christmas holiday more than putting up a fresh-cut Christmas tree. Thanksgiving is days away and many folks will put up their tree on that day or the day after. If you use a cut tree, there are several tips for keeping your tree green, festive and safe from the time you put it up until you have sung the last Christmas carol.
1. Choose a tree that will fit in your home easily. Consider height and width available for the tree inside your home. You really don't want to pull a Clark Griswold on this one.
2. When you bring your tree home, cut off the bottom inch of the trunk and immediately place the tree upright in a bucket of water. Store it outdoors, out of bright sunlight and protected from the wind to allow it to take up water and get well hydrated before you bring it inside.
3. Before you bring the tree in to decorate it, check your lights. Test lights and inspect all connections before placing them on the tree. Replace lights if they are worn.
4. Make sure your tree stand is large enough to accommodate your tree and that it can hold enough water to supply the tree. Some trees can use up to a gallon of water each day.
5. Position the tree away from heat sources including heat vents, heaters, fireplaces and direct sunlight. These will all cause the tree to dry out more quickly and can make your delightful holiday decoration into a fire hazard.
6. Once the tree is up and in place, be sure to check the water level in the stand daily. Do not let the water level fall below the cut surface of the trunk. If it does, the cut surface will form a seal preventing water from being drawn up the trunk. If this happens, make a fresh 1 inch cut to be sure that your tree can still take up water.
7. Turn the Christmas tree lights off when you leave home and when you go to bed at night.
8. Do not overload your electrical circuits.
9. Monitor the tree for freshness and if the needles become dry, dispose of it.
10. Speaking of disposal, when the holidays are over and you are ready to get rid of the tree, Keep Paulding Beautiful invites you to Bring One for the Chipper on Jan. 7, 2012! Trees that are recycled in this program are later used as mulch or fish habitats. For more information on this program, check the Keep Paulding Beautiful website.
Remember that the most important thing that a cut tree needs is water! Keep your tree safe and hydrated and enjoy your holidays. Contact the Paulding County Extension office at 770-443-7616 if we can be of assistance to you, or check us out online at www.ugaextension.com/paulding.