Few things in life are as warm and welcoming as the sight—and smell—of a live Christmas tree. But how do you keep your tree fresh and supple throughout the long holiday season? That’s an important question because a dry, brittle tree not only drops needles all over the floor it also poses a serious fire hazard.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are over 200 Christmas tree fires each year, which on average cause six deaths and nearly 15 million dollars in property damage. Fortunately there are three simple steps you can take to protect your home and family, and ensure that your live Christmas tree stays fresher longer.
1. Trim the Trunk—As soon as you get your Christmas tree home, cut approximately 3 inches off the trunk end of the tree. That’s necessary because when the tree is cut down, sticky sap seeps out of its pores and dries, forming a hard crust on the cut end of the trunk. And that crust prevents the tree from absorbing water, so it becomes dry and brittle in just a few days. By cutting the trunk, you expose clean, new wood that’s thirsty and ready to drink.
And keep in mind that the water-blocking crust starts forming almost as soon as the tree is cut down, so it’s important to trim the trunk regardless of whether you buy a pre-cut tree or cut your own at a local tree farm.
By the way, each year we get our tree from a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm, but rather than using the farmers dull, rusty bow saw, I bring along my WORX 20-volt cordless reciprocating saw. I equip the saw with an aggressive-cutting pruning blade and slice through the tree in just seconds.
2. Bore a Hydration Hole—Immediately after trimming the trunk, use a drill to bore a deep ¼-inch-diameter hole up the center of the freshly cut trunk. This hole creates a direct-access conduit and greatly enhances the tree’s ability to quickly and efficiently absorb water.
Next, and this is important, as soon as you drill the hydration hole, place the tree in the Christmas tree stand and fill it with water. Don’t delay or sap will seal the cut end and you’ll have to start all over again.
3. Water, Water, Water—The importance of keeping the tree stand filled with water can’t be overstated. A constant supply of water is vital to keeping the tree fresh and supple throughout the holiday season. And it’s especially important to check the water level during the first two or three days. It’s not unusual for a tree with a freshly trimmed trunk and hydration hole to drain its water reservoir dry every few hours.
After three or four days, the tree will become fully hydrated, and you may only need to add water once or twice per day. Just be sure the reservoir never runs dry. Happy Holidays!