Author: Paola Salustri

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Thursday, November 28th, 2013 at 7:31 pm
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Homes and Gardens

Christmas Trees Are Green

Nothing beats the smell and look of a real Christmas tree. Some people worry about the waste of a real tree but in actual fact they are not necessarily unfriendly in environmental terms, provided you buy a locally grown tree.

If you are able, the most sustainable thing to do is to plant a tree out of doors and buy outdoor lights. That way you don’t have to disturb it each year, and you are benefiting the environment by planting a tree which absorbs carbon dioxide and other gases and emits oxygen.

Your second best option is to buy a tree with roots which you can plant in the garden and dig up to bring indoors each year. You will inevitably damage the roots each time but your tree should certainly last until it is too big to fit indoors! Buy a container grown tree or a bare root tree – look out for trees sold in Garden Centres around this time that appear to have roots but actually don’t – and when you replant it on 12th night, give it a little compost.

Or how about buying a dwarf conifer that will remain in a planter permanently.

If you do buy a cut tree, try to source one locally and watch out for information on how and where to recycle it on 12th night. Most Local Authorities collect trees for shredding in January.

When you look at a tree in the open air it isn’t easy to get a feel for its height and spread. Before you go shopping or hunting for your perfect tree, measure both the ceiling height and the maximum diameter. Remember to add the height of the tree stand as well as the treetop decoration. Also, measure the maximum diameter for your sturdy tree stand.

christmas tree decoratedTrees with shorter needles, such as Fraser or Noble Fir, are often easier to decorate than others, as they offer some space between branches for decorations as well as some stronger stems to hold heavier ornaments. Keep in mind that a tree looks better when the ornaments hang straight. Many trees today are groomed to be lush and full, so be aware that ornaments may hang at an angle on these sheered trees. For ornaments to hang straight you should look for a tree with some space between the branches.

Your perfect tree should have needles that look shiny, green, and fresh, not dry or brown. Check the resilience of the needles by holding a branch and lightly pull your hand toward you allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Most, if not all, of the needles need to stay on the tree.

Indoors, avoid placing it near a heat source, so keep it away from sunny windows, radiators and fireplaces. For safety reasons, try to place the tree where it cannot easily be bumped into or overturned, or where someone might trip on light cords.

Once you are home, cut off at least half an inch from the bottom of the trunk so the tree will begin to soak up water immediately. However, depending on your ceiling height, you might want to cut more off the bottom of your tree so it fits perfectly in your space. If you’re not going to display the tree inside your house right away, stand it in a bucket of warm water in your garage or on a sheltered patio out of the sun.

Always keep your fresh tree in a stand that holds lots of water. Check the water level daily. For the first few days, you may even need to refill the water every few hours.

Every acre of Christmas trees grown produces the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people. As most Christmas trees come from sustainably managed forests, which means that they are replaced when cut down, this is an ongoing solution.

Upside down treeP.S. If you are very short of space, you could consider an upside down tree, which is suspended from the seiling or in a stairwell. Perhaps not for the traditionalist, but love it, or hate it, the upside down tree saves space, has more room for placing presents at the base, allows decorations to hang freely, keeps delicate baubles out of reach of small children and pets – and what a conversation piece!

The upside down Christmas tree first became popular amongst New York apartment dwellers because it frees up floor space with a smaller ‘footprint’. Yet, although it may seem radical, the ‘upside down tree’ has its roots in the Middle Ages, coming from the pagan tradition of spreading evergreen boughs across the floors, windows and hearth in order to keep evil spirits from invading the home.

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