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A healthy Christmas tree is the first step to decking the halls By Savannah Colbert

As temperatures drop and Christmas carols begin playing on the radio, the time to search for the right tree is here. People have been buying and decorating trees to celebrate Christmas for more than 500 years. Almost 30 million live Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year. UGA Extension experts share these tips for choosing the right tree.

Planning ahead:

  • Moorhead said to “check the height of your ceiling before leaving the house,” and buy a tree a foot shorter than this to be sure it will fit comfortably inside.
  • Think about the taper and fullness you need, based on the room you are putting it in.

Picking the tree:

  • The freshest trees will be available at choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms. Buying trees from farms also supports local farmers.
  • Shake the tree before you buy it. Lots of needles falling off is a bad sign that can indicate a dead tree.
  • Check for insects and dead needles around the middle of the tree as these could also indicate a dead tree.
  • Be careful not to pick a droopy looking tree, this probably means it’s gone too long without water.
  • Pick a tree with a straight trunk that is between six and eight inches long. This will make it easier to cut the base and put it in a stand.

Caring for the tree:

  • When you get home with your tree, cut an inch off of the base and immediately put it in water.
  • The tree should go in a stand that holds at least one gallon of water.
  • Plain water, without sugar or fertilizer, is best for the tree.
  • Make sure to check the water supply for the tree, especially when you’ve just gotten it because “the first couple of days the tree will go through a lot of water,” Moorhead said.

Options for recycling your tree:

  • Use the main stem for firewood.
  • Create a fish attractor by weighting the tree and sinking it to the bottom of a pond.
  • Grind the tree for mulch.
  • Take it to a box store that will chip the wood and donate it.
  • Donate your tree to “Bring One for the Chipper,” a Keep Georgia Beautiful program that recycles Christmas trees by making them into mulch for use in community projects.

(Savannah Colbert is a communications intern with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Freshly cut Christmas trees
Freshly cut Christmas trees

Freshly cut Christmas trees lined up for purchase at the Lowe's Home Improvement store in Griffin, Ga.

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Freshly cut Christmas trees lined up for purchase at the Lowe's Home Improvement store in Griffin, Ga. Download Image
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