Take good care of live Christmas trees

Johnson City Press • Nov 25, 2017 at 12:00 AM

It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which means many local residents will begin decorating for Christmas. Some folks will be hanging their favorite ornaments from the branches of live trees.

Celebrating the season with a real Fraser fir or spruce pine helps bolster Tennessee’s Christmas tree industry. The National Christmas Tree Association says there are a few things you should know before buying a live Christmas tree. There tips include knowing what size tree you need before heading to the retail lot or tree farm.

You should also:

• Go to a retail lot that is well-lit and with trees stored in a shaded area. Some species last longer and remain fresh longer than others in different climates.

• Do a freshness test on the trees. Green needles on fresh trees break crisply when bent sharply with the fingers. Look for indicators of dryness, such as excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor and wrinkled bark. 

• Ask the retailer about opportunities to recycle Christmas trees in your community. Many areas host a “Chipping of the Green” in January to turn Christmas trees into mulch for landscaping. The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has teamed up with the city of Johnson City to place Christmas trees in area lakes to create “habitat improvement structures” where fish can hide and find food.

• Involve the whole family in the selection of a tree and plan fun things for everyone to do during the trip. Take a page from Clark Griswold’s book on decorating for the holidays and make finding the perfect Christmas tree a true family adventure.

There also are some things to remember to do once you’ve gotten that tree home and are ready to decorate it. The U.S. Fire Administration says it is important that you take the following steps to make sure your live Christmas tree doesn’t become a fire hazard:

• Don’t place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat or flames.

• Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

• Inspect all Christmas lights annually for frayed wires, bare spots and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. And use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

• Never leave Christmas tree lights on unattended. Thirsty needles and hot lights could spell disaster.

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