Christmas Tree 101

By Nicole Germany

After the pumpkin patches disappear and the Thanksgiving china is put away, shiny garland and bright-bulbed strings of light begin to show their faces once more. They cling to evergreen pine branches and transform blank canvases into art. These works of art sparkle through windows and make the holidays complete, but what makes just the right Christmas tree twinkle for you?

When deciding on just the right tree, it’s important to know the signs of a healthy tree. Picking a ripe tree has a lot to do with smell and touch. Make sure it not only smells fresh, but looks fresh, too.

What to Look For

• When choosing a tree, grab a handful of needles — do they smell like Christmas? If so, it’s a keeper! If there’s no scent, move on to the next one.
• Test branches by holding them in your hand and pulling them slightly forward. If needles fall all around you, the tree’s life is almost up.
• Another way to test the freshness of a tree is by taking a needle and snapping it in half. If it snaps, it’s fresh. If it bends, it was cut sometime ago.

Depending on what you’re looking for, you can pick the right tree after reaching three conclusions:

Height — From floor to ceiling, what’s the height of the room the tree will be displayed in? Are you adding a topper?
Type — Fresh cut or fake? Fraser fir or balsam fir?
Shape — Short or tall? Skinny or bushy?

Top 3 Tips for Keeping Trees Fresh

• Get the base of the tree cut by about an inch so the tree is able to easily take in water.
• Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Just like us, trees need water to stay at their very best. Letting the water level fall below the base could prevent further water intake.
• Don’t add anything to the water; straight H20 is all that the tree needs.

Safety Tips for Trees

• Check strands of lights for any frayed or bare wires, and always make sure to unplug any lights before leaving the house or going to sleep.
• Place tree away from fireplaces, heaters, radiators and entertainment centers.
• Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
• Be cautious of children and animals getting too close to the tree. Always make sure little ones are supervised when playing around the Christmas tree.
• Don’t try to burn trees in fireplaces or wood stoves. Burning them could cause flames and sparks due to the sap from the tree.

What happens to fresh trees after the holidays?

Christmas trees are considered yard trash and will be picked up from the curb after the holidays. Limbs can be no longer than 5 feet, so you may have to cut your tree. If curbside pickup is not an option for you, then you can take your tree any of the Alachua County Rural Collection Centers. Visit Alachuacounty.us to find a location near you.

Screen shot 2016-12-12 at 2.06.04 PM