Tannenbaum Treasures: Cutting and Care
It was hard to miss all of those evergreens strapped to the roofs of cars over the weekend as holiday shoppers picked up their Yuletide frock. But before the decorating begins, here are some helpful tips to assure that your tree lasts through the Christmas season in style and doesn’t create a safety hazard for your home.
After the Tree is Home
If you are not going to set the tree up immediately in the house, store it in a cool, dark place, such as a garage. If the storage room is above freezing, placing the base of the tree in water will prolong its freshness.
Cut the base of the tree at a slight angle about 1 inch about the old cut, then place the base in the water. Before you bring the tree into the house, select the display location carefully. Do not set the tree over or under a heat vent, nor near a fireplace. A location away from a window also is preferred. Keeping the tree in a cool location will reduce water loss and extend the freshness of the tree.
Another important consideration is to have a good tree stand. Tree stands should hold at least a gallon of water to prevent the tree from drying out. It is not uncommon for a fresh cut tree to take up to 1/4 to 1/2 gallon of water a day during the first week and perhaps a total of 3 to 7 gallons over a four week period.
When the tree is brought in, cut the base of the tree about one inch above the original cut. The original cut is usually filled with pitch and will not readily absorb water. The new cut will open the pores and quickly allow water to be carried up to the needles. Once the tree is securely set in the stand, add water. The temperature of the water is not important. People once believed that warm water would be taken up quicker into the stem, however, studies have shown that there is no difference in uptake between cold, cool, warm, and hot water.
Maintaining a supply of water to the tree’s base is the most important way to keep the tree fresh. Studies have shown that a tree left without water will dry out in 8 to 14 days, while a tree with a constant supply of water can maintain fresh needles 30 days or more. However, certain trees, like spruce, may begin to drop needles after 3 weeks, even with good care. Sometimes people add aspirin or other preservatives to the water to extend the freshness of the tree. Most home recipes do not work, and commercial preservatives are not necessary.
After the Holidays
The use of a real Christmas tree is not over when the decorations come down. Real trees can be recycled into a number of different uses. Some people place the tree in the backyard and use it as a winter bird feeder. Groups often collect tree to put in lakes as artificial reefs. The trees also can be chipped and the chips used as organic mulch around shrubs and flowers.
Dealing With Dropped Tree Needles. The longer your tree is up the more needles it will drop, as it gets older and older, and drier and drier. Throughout the holidays you’ll need to habitually deal with dropped needles around the tree. Experts suggest that you sweep up as many needles as you can before you vacuum. Evergreen tree needles aren’t good for your vacuum so sweeping up first helps preserve your vacuum cleaner.
To minimize the clean up from needles during this job, you have two options:
- Use A Disposable Christmas Tree Bag. The first option is to use a disposable Christmas tree bag. This isn’t to be confused with a bag or other storage container that is designed to hold an artificial tree. Instead, it’s a really big and sturdy garbage bag that you pull up around your tree after Christmas is over to help you haul it out of your home without a huge mess resulting. To use one of these though you’ve got to think of it before you set the tree up and begin decorating, at the beginning, since you situate it around the base of the tree until it is used. If you choose a disposable bag, make sure you’ve gotten one that is big enough to fit the tree you’ve purchased or obviously it won’t work well.
- Use A Sheet. If you don’t want to use a disposable bag or didn’t think of it until it was too late, you can do something similar with a sheet. After siphoning the water out of the water reservoir ( use a turkey baster) you can lay the tree down on a sheet. Next, remove the base and then, with the help of a friend or family member, lift the tree, with the sheet wrapped around it, to take the tree outside to the curb for pick up, or into (or on top of) your vehicle to take to the recycling facility.
Dealing With Tree Sap.
Sometimes, when you’ve got a real Christmas tree, tree sap gets on the carpet or when moving the tree around, it might get on you. Have no fear! Check out these tips for how to remove tree sap stains. The problem with tree sap removal from items in your home is if dries, because then it is even more difficult to remove because it gets hard, and sticks very well to the fibers of your clothes, the upholstery or carpet.
If that occurs you will want to try to moisten the sap stain some before beginning stain removal. One way to do this is to moisten a white paper towel or white cloth and lay it over the stain for an hour or two. Once the sap is again moist be careful, however, during removal so you don’t spread it further, or grind it into the fibers.
Tree Sap Removal From Clothing And Fabric:
- Step 1: Scrape off as much tree sap from the fabric as possible, with a blunt knife, being careful not to spread the stain further.
- Step 2: Pretreat the sap stain with a laundry stain remover.
- Step 3: Launder in the hottest water the fabric will allow to get out the stain, and either chlorine bleach if the fabric will allow it, or color safe bleach if not.
- Hint: Make sure the stain is gone after washing, but before you place in the dryer or you may set the stain. Repeat if necessary.
If this does not remove the stain blot the stain with rubbing alcohol(being careful to first spot test this in an inconspicuous area to make sure this doesn’t harm the fabric) and then launder again.
How To Remove Tree Sap Stains From Upholstery or Carpet:
- Step 1: Scrape off any excess tree sap from the upholstery, making sure not to spread the stain further.
- Step 2: Mix a solution of two cups cool water and one tablespoon dishwashing liquid.
- Step 3: Using this solution, sponge the stain caused by the sap with a clean white cloth.
- Step 4: Next, blot at the stain until the liquid is absorbed.
- Step 5: Repeat steps 3-4 until the sap stains are removed from the upholstery.
- Step 6: Now that the stain is removed you should get plain cold water and a new white cloth and sponge the area to remove the cleaning solution, and then blot dry.
- Hint: Be sure to get the upholstery only as wet as necessary for tree sap stain removal.
If this stain removal method does not work you can try removing the stain with dry cleaning solvent. However, you should first test this cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area to make sure it will not harm your upholstery.