Tree Care & Recyling Ideas from the National Christmas Tree Association
Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems.To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don’t cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does NOT improve water uptake.Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don’t bruise the cut surface or get it dirty. If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water.The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.Keep trees away from major sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.Use of lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying of the tree.Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set.Do not overload electrical circuits.Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.Monitor the tree for freshness. After Christmas or if the tree is very dry, remove it from the house.Visit the Tree Recycling page to find a recycling program near you.Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.
Important: Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove.
Other Recycling OptionsSoil erosion barriers: Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management. Here’s an example of just such a project, called “Balsams for Brookies.”Fish feeders: Sunk into private fish ponds, trees make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.Bird feeders: Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter. (Make sure all decorations, hooks, garland and tinsel strands are removed). Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper.Mulch: A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden.Paths for hiking trails: Some counties use shredded trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers.Living, rooted trees: Get a rooted (ball and burlap or containerized) tree and plant it in your yard. (It’s a good idea to dig the hole in the late fall while the soil is still soft, then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas.) Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates.Recycling GuideOur Recycling Manual is full of ideas, information and resources for you to start a recycling program in your area.
Removing Your TreeThe best way to avoid a mess removing your tree is to place a plastic tree bag (available at hardware stores) underneath the stand when you set the tree up. You can hide it with a tree skirt. Then, when the holidays are done, pull the bag up around the tree, stand and all, and carry it outside. Obviously, you will want to remove the stand before recycling the tree. If some needles do scatter inside, it is better to sweep them