Do you want to remember this Christmas for many years to come? Would you like to help the environment at the same time? Then consider planting your Christmas tree after the holidays. We’ve pulled together some advice on how to do it the right way.
Start by choosing the right tree species; examples are Norway spruce, white pine, blue spruce, Scotch pine, Douglas fir, and cedar, among others. Study the space you have available inside as well as the planting location outside so you can select a tree that will fit well in both places.
It’s easier to deal with a smaller tree, especially when you take into consideration the weight of the root ball. It’s best to buy a tree with the root ball wrapped in burlap from a local nursery or tree farm. Be sure to handle it with care during transport to avoid damaging the root ball. Once you get the tree inside, place it in a galvanized bucket, and use a few large rocks to prop it up. Leave the burlap intact and put mulch in the bucket around the root ball to prevent it from drying out.
It’s best to pre-dig the planting hole, because the ground may be frozen after the holidays when you are ready to take the tree outside. Choose a location that is protected from wind, preferably behind an existing evergreen tree. Dig the planting hole at least twice the width of the root ball, but leave a pedestal for the root ball to sit on. Place the dirt on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow, and then bring it into a garage, shed, or other shelter. Put straw in the planting hole to keep it from freezing.
While it is indoors, situate the tree away from sources of heat and dry air such as fireplaces, kitchens or air ducts, and be sure to avoid direct sunlight. Instead of watering the traditional way, a better way that helps prevent damage caused by overwatering is to place ice cubes on top of the root ball. As the ice melts, water slowly becomes available to the roots. Avoid leaving stagnant water, which may cause root decay, in the bucket. Spraying the tree with an anti-desiccant can help keep the needles from drying out.
Be careful when placing lights and ornaments on the branches so you avoid damaging delicate tissue. Make sure you use low-wattage lights and drape them gently over the branches.
After the holidays, avoid shocking the tree by slowly adapting it to the outside climate. Bring it into your garage or place it by a sheltered, outside wall for a couple of weeks. If the prevailing winds in your area generally come from the west, for example, then an eastern wall is probably the best place. If the tree starts out in the garage, move it to a sheltered, outside wall for another week or two. Keep an eye on the long-range weather forecast. If there’s going to be a period of mild weather, plant the tree immediately.
During planting, remove the burlap that has been protecting the trunk and root ball. Position the tree in the hole you already dug and cover it with the dirt you stored.
In future years, you and your family can decorate your outside Christmas tree with lights and expand the Christmas cheer.