only green when summer's here, but also when 'tis cold and clear," an
unknown poet wrote in 1820 in Berlin, Germany about the Christmas tree.
Long the center of the Christmas decorating tradition in most homes
throughout the region and beyond, the Christmas tree reminds us of a
baby born outside in a manger on a cold night. Once decorated, the
Christmas tree helps us to celebrate the birth of this baby who brought
peace and love to our world. It stands at the center of the gift giving
tradition as gifts are placed lovingly underneath its great branches in
anticipation of bringing Christmas joy to its recipient.
When the last horn of the New Year is blown and the party hats get put
away, however, many folks simply remove the ornamentation from the tree
and take this once cherished holiday decoration and simply dispose of
Perhaps it is left on the curbside for the special trash day set aside
for Christmas tree removal. Or maybe it is drug into the woods to simply
die throughout the coming year. Whatever the fate of the unwanted
Christmas tree it seems an unlikely end for the center of the
Folks should rethink Christmas tree disposal after the holiday and
consider this. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) says
that planting a live Christmas tree not only provides habitat for birds
and wildlife, it also replenishes the air with oxygen, increases soil
stability, and generally makes your lands more beautiful. Of course
there are always the sentimental reasons to consider as well. So, the
alternative to getting rid of it after the last ball is lifted off,
plant it in your back yard!
Planting evergreens in the wintertime can be a difficult proposition.
So, it is important to remember that proper preparation and care of the
tree are essential. In the fall long before Christmas arrives choose the
best site for planting the tree. It should be spacious enough for the
tree to grow and develop. (Keep in mind that the ISA suggests that most
species used for Christmas trees such as pine and spruce grow to be more
than 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide.) Prepare the planting site by
removing soil and placing it in a warm location. Then fill the empty
hole with straw and cover it with safety boar until it is time to plant
Once the annual tree selecting ritual has arrived make sure that
whatever species of tree your family chooses that it is a healthy one.
When purchasing a balled and burlapped tree, choose a tree with a sold
soil ball. Also remember the smaller the tree, the better the chance of
Once you get it home store it somewhere cool and away from the weather
such as in a garage. Make sure to keep the soil ball moist and that it
does not freeze. Before you bring it indoors, wrap the soil ball in
plastic or place it in a tub. Make sure that whatever spot you choose
for its final placement that it is not near a heat source such as a
fireplace or register.
The longer your tree stays inside the less chance it will have of
survival when planted outdoors after the holiday. The maximum you should
keep it inside is seven to ten days. If the tree is kept indoors for a
longer period, the buds may come out of the dormant stage. Then when it
is planted outside the new growths will be killed by the harsh, cold
Decorating can be traumatic for your tree. Be sure to carefully decorate
it. Ornaments, tinsel, and lights can be used but avoid artificial snow.
While it remains indoors make sure to keep the soil ball moist by
checking the soil daily and water as needed. When Christmas is over
remove the tree from the house and place it in a cool location. Make the
transition from indoors to outdoors a careful one by briefly allowing it
to stay in a cool garage or shed. This allows the tree to become
gradually acclimated to cooler temperatures. The soil ball should not be
allowed to freeze during this time.
Once a mild winter day arrives, and in Southern Maryland there are
usually many, remove the straw from the planting area and plant the tree
outdoors. Water it well and mulch the area heavily to prevent the soil
from freezing immediately.
Following all of these tips should ensure that your tree makes the
transition successfully. Then, for many years to come you can treasure
the tree that once stood in your home and will forevermore be a reminder
of a time when the kids were young and the joy of Christmas was
reflected in their twinkling eyes.