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Agriculture & Natural Resources Updates for Fannin & Gilmer Counties

One of my favorite holiday memories was the first Christmas my husband and I spent together. As with many young couples, we were working hard to build a life together, so to save some money we decided to take to the woods at my parent’s house to search for the perfect tree.

Well, anyone who has taken part in a tree hunting adventure in the woods knows that while looking for a tree can be a fun activity, due to shade and other environmental factors, it’s nearly impossible to find a lush, well-shaped tree in the wild. Despite the challenges, my husband and I were able to find a lovely little eastern red cedar to decorate our home, but it wasn’t easy!

Over the years, we’ve shifted from stomping around in the woods to purchasing a tree from a local tree farm; however, one may also select one at Christmas tree lots and box stores. Pick-your-own farms provide the chance to pick out a tree from a local grower and many families enjoy taking their children to the farm, picking out a tree and having pictures made.

The Christmas tree market is comprised of pre-cut trees, pick-your-own farms, and artificial trees. While there are pros and cons to each, I want to provide some tips for keeping a live tree in your home this year.

First, have a good idea where you are going to place the tree before you bring one home. Trees tend to look smaller when they’re outside. That coupled with the excitement of the moment may lead to a purchase of a larger tree than what you need. Trust me, it’s easier to do than you think, so when you’re shopping try to remember that the tree needs to fit in the intended space.

Second, keep in mind that most tree toppers and stands can easily add over 6 inches to a tree, so that extra height needs to be included when you’re shopping for your tree. Also, look for a full canopy without empty pockets of branches.  Often a tree will be placed in a corner or against a wall providing an opportunity to hide any empty canopy pockets.

Thirdly, once you’ve made your selection and you’re bringing your tree home, it’s important to understand that a tree that has been cut down is still alive. All of the normal physiological processes of that tree are still happening, which means it’s going to need water! Keeping the tree hydrated is crucial to keeping it fresh looking through Christmas. So, when you get home, make a new cut about one-half inch above the original cut. This will expose fresh tissue allowing better absorption of water from the tree stand.

After purchasing your tree, make a new cut about one-half inch above the original cut. This will expose fresh tissue allowing better absorption of water from the tree stand at home.

Another tip for live tree users would be to place the tree in the shade until you are ready to bring it in the house. Give the tree several good shakes to dislodge dried up needles, insects and dust. Once the tree is inside the home, check the water level in the tree stand often and try to keep it topped off to full. It will surprise you how fast the tree uses water.

To prevent an accident, place your tree away from space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves. Electric lights and extension cords should be thoroughly checked for safety and defects prior to use. Frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections can all be a fire hazard. Do not leave tree lights on while the tree is unattended. If you have small children or indoor pets, keep them in mind when trimming the tree.

With a little planning and preparation, live Christmas trees can add a festive feel to your home during the holiday season. Looking for advice on where to find a tree or more tips for Christmas tree care? Give your county Extension office a call!

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