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Choosing, Preparing and Caring for your Real Christmas tree

Published: 3rd December, 2014

Christmas treeMany people believe that Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a real Christmas tree. But real trees do require a little more care and attention than artificial ones. Here are a few tips on how to choose, prepare and care for your tree to ensure that you get maximum enjoyment from it into the New Year.

When choosing your Christmas tree, freshness is key. Look for a tree that is still a vibrant fresh green, without dead or browning needles. Before purchasing check the freshness of the branches by running your fingers along them. The needles should be firm yet flexible. Give it the ‘stump test’ by banging it gently on the floor. A few needles may fall, and this is perfectly normal, but you should not see a large amount of green needles falling to the floor. Henry Street Garden Centre has a huge range of fresh cut trees as well as pot grown trees and will be more than happy to help you select the perfect tree for you.

Having taken all that care to choose a beautiful tree, you’ll want to make sure that it stays looking fresh and gorgeous for the duration of the Christmas period.

If you are not going to use your tree straight away, keep it in a cool dry place such as a porch or garage until you are ready to decorate it.  Keep it standing in a bucket of water.

When deciding where to finally position your tree, choose somewhere away from any radiators or fires, as it will dry out and cause the needles to drop and branches to droop.

If you are going to be using lights on your tree remember to choose somewhere that has an electric socket nearby. (If you are going to need to use an extension lead be sure to have the cable safely tucked away where there is no danger of it causing trips.)

When you are ready to bring your tree indoors prepare the base by cutting about 3cm off the bottom with a small saw to aid water absorption and cut off any low branches that are browning or which will get in the way of it standing securely and safely in your Christmas tree stand.

Once your tree is straight and firm in its stand, you’re good to go with the fun bit – adding the decorations.

The key to a healthy tree is water. Keep your tree in plenty of water in its stand and feed it a minimum of a pint a day. In fact during the first day or so while it is establishing itself it will drink much more than that so top up as regularly as is needed. If you do allow the container to dry out a seal will form over the base of the trunk within a matter of hours and you’ll need to start from scratch. This is obviously a rather difficult and unwanted task once the tree is decorated!

There are all sorts of recommendations on other substances that can be added to the water to prolong your tree’s life. Some suggest a little sugar in the water will keep it fresher for longer, others add fizzy drinks and some even aspirin! But research does show that just good old fashioned tap water is really all that is needed. If properly cared for your real Christmas tree should last at least 4-6 weeks before drying out and turning brown.

Once Christmas is over and it’s time to say farewell to your room centrepiece ensure that you dispose of it responsibly. Most boroughs have a tree collection program as part of their recycling services. If you have a large garden you can hide it away in a corner until spring when you can chip it into garden mulch.

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