There’s nothing like the look and smell of a freshly cut tree to evoke memories and the holiday spirit. And part of that tradition should include making sure the tree stays in good condition until it’s time to take it down. This becomes especially important in places like Denver, where there’s a tradition of leaving holiday decorations up until the end of the National Western Stock show, which extends into late January.
Here are some tips to keep your tree looking great and your family and pets safe.
- Choose your tree carefully
Some tree species tend to last longer after cutting. Fir and cypress can keep their needles for 4-5 weeks after cutting. Other species like pine and spruce start dropping needles after a couple of weeks, if not sooner.
Buy from a seller who knows their trees, choose a healthy-looking tree, and ask when the tree was cut. Try to get one that was cut within the week if possible. Tap the base of the tree on the ground or shake it a few times to verify that the needles stay attached.
When you’ve found your tree, ask the attendant to cut the trunk to expose fresh wood and have it baled for transport home to avoid damage in transit.
- Condition your tree before bringing it in
Once home, place the tree in its stand, put the tree in an unheated garage or other freeze-protected area, and fill the stand with plenty of water to hydrate it for about 24 hours. Larger trees may absorb as much as a gallon. Then cut another half inch or so off the trunk to encourage more absorption.
This is also a good time to apply an anti-desiccant spray before decorating if you plan to use one. Don’t use any additives in the water, though. They’re not effective and may even harm the tree. Clear tap water is all you need.
- Pick a good spot for the tree
Heat and dry air are your tree’s enemies. Place the tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, and furnace vents and avoid direct sunlight if possible. Make sure the tree stand is easily accessible for watering.
- Use LED lights to keep the tree cool
LED tree lights come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. They burn cooler so they will not add to the drying heat of other bulbs. They save energy and last longer, too.
- Keep children and pets safe
Cats see Christmas trees as toys, dogs like drinking from the tree stand, and toddlers are fascinated by lights and shiny parts. Put a layer of heavy aluminum foil around the base of the tree to discourage cats from climbing the trunk, and a Citronella or apple bitter spray may keep felines at bay altogether.
A baby gate may keep both toddlers and pets away from the tree, or set the tree up in a kiddie playpen where it’s protected from curious eyes.
- Don’t Push Your Tree Past Its Limit
When properly cared for, a cut tree will last around 4-5 weeks before it starts drying out. During that time, it’s important to keep it watered. A tree with a 2-inch trunk will absorb as much as a quart of water per day during its first week or two; larger trees will use even more. Trees should be put in a stand with at least a one-gallon water capacity and be checked several times daily at first.
After a week or so, check it daily and never let the water level drop below the trunk. If you got your tree freshly-cut a few days before Christmas, it might make it through the Stock Show, but don’t put your home and family at risk by pushing it past its limit.
As you approach the second week, check the tree daily for dropped and brown needles. If you notice more than a few, it’s time to remove the tree before it becomes a fire hazard.
Take down the lights and decorations and remove it from your house. Many communities offer curbside recycling for trees or you can take it to a recycling center on your own. Store the dead tree outdoors, away from structures and combustible materials until it can be hauled away.
- Turn OFF the Lights When You’re Asleep or Away
Even well hydrated trees can be fire hazards, and as they approach the end of their lives, Christmas trees become increasingly flammable. Tempting as it may be to have a lighted tree in the window throughout the night, there are too many risks in leaving the lights and tree unattended. Save your all-night lighting for outdoors and put it on a timer so you don’t waste energy when no one’s awake to see it.
Don’t Become a Statistic
Residential fires and electrical accidents increase every year during the holiday season and into the winter months. Dried out Christmas trees, improperly installed indoor and outdoor lighting, and overworked electrical systems are major contributors to the problem.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International and the pros at Allstar Electrical Services urge you practice electrical safety not only at the holidays but year-round.
The pros at Allstar Electrical Services want to extend our best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy, safe, and prosperous holiday season and new year. We look forward to serving your electrical needs throughout the coming year and many more to follow.
Give us a call or visit our web site, allstarelectrical.com, for any of your electrical needs, and for help on your projects in the coming year.