Not long now until the fat man with a red suit and a big sack comes down the chimney, but only if you’ve been good, and where does he leave the presents? Under the Christmas tree of course. And what would the festive Season be without a beautiful decorated tree in your house? It’s an age old tradition first used in this country when Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband) had one erected in Windsor Castle in 1841, and where many traditions have come and gone over the centuries, decorating the Christmas tree has remained one of the most significant must do’s at Christmas.
Real or Artificial
The big question though, is do you prefer a real or an artificial Christmas tree? For me, it’s got to be real! The smell of pine and the idea of bringing the outside in has always appealed to me. It’s also a much more environmentally friendly option. Sourced locally means no export pollution, and artificial trees are generally made from materials such as PVC which is non renewable or recyclable. And so every year in the middle of December, I and my family head out to a local farm to pick the tree that we will garnish with the glass ornaments and tree decorations that have been collected and cherished over the years.
Wherever you live there is bound to be local supplier of organically and locally grown Christmas trees. And depending on your budget you can get a great tree, ranging from just 3 ft right up to 10 ft if you have the space. It’s always worth doing your research before heading out and getting recommendations from other people about who to go to and what type of tree to get, so you know exactly what you are looking for. For example, do you want a tree that is potted? The advantages of a potted tree are that if you look after it over the festive weeks, the needles shouldn’t drop and you could even keep the tree in the garden for years to come. But remember, it will continue to grow until it is too big for the pot, and I have known people to plant their trees in their gardens and 20 years later have a giant spruce taking over.
Or are you looking for a tree that you can dispose of after the festive season. And how long do you want the tree to be in use for? If it’s not potted then at some point the needles will start to drop. You will still need to take care of it by giving it regular water. So getting your tree too far away from Christmas could mean that by the time you reach the big day your tree could look somewhat sparse. The type of tree comes into play here as well. The most popular over the last few decades has been the Norway Spruce. It is a good budget Christmas tree that is popular because of its colour and shape. But in recent years, the Nordman Fir has begun to take over because of the way it retains its pine needles.
Caring for your tree once you have chosen it is paramount. Your tree is a plant and like any other plant it needs water. The base of the trunk will naturally create a resin seal within 4-6 hours and this will prevent the tree from being able to absorb the water that it needs. So, when you get home, cut across the bottom of the trunk to create a fresh base and then place it into water. Your tree stand must hold enough water for the size of your tree and you should never let the water drop below the base of the trunk. If it does dry out you may need to make another cut across the bottom, which of course could be a problem if the tree is already decorated.
If you can, avoid putting your tree near to any heat sources to prevent it drying out quicker. Dried out trees also become a bigger fire hazard.
Recycling your Christmas Tree
When festivities are over, it’s time to take the decorations down for another year. For many in the gloominess of January, this is a somewhat reflective time, and every year I see sad looking Christmas trees dumped in the front garden and by the side of roads, waiting to be taken up the local waste disposal depot. But there is so much more that these trees can give yet and here are a few up-cycling ideas for what you can do if you don’t to waste the tree that has looked truly beautiful in your house for the last few weeks.
- If you want to put your tree to use in the back garden, stand it somewhere in the garden or place it in the ground temporarily to let the birds feed from it. Hanging bird seed balls, strings of popcorn or fruit on the branches is a great idea in the cold winter months. It can also be a great resting place for all sorts of creatures, including squirrels, insects and birds, providing a little shelter and allowing them to rest and feed off the cold ground.
- Large branches with some foliage still in place can be used by gardeners to protect some of the more delicate plants from ground frost and snow.
- The trunk of the tree can be used for firewood, if you have an open fire. Not the Branches however as these can pop and crackle.
- Or you could use the trunk as a base for a Bird feeder or the edging for a garden bed.
- Any needles that are left can be collected and used to make an aromatic Potpourri. Just strip the needles and store in brown paper bags. The smell should remain all year round.
- If there are any woodcraft hobbyists out there, they could use wood from the trunk to make all sorts of things from Candle holders to hanging shapes and if you’re looking for some Christmas Craft ideas take a look at one of our previous blogs >>> 12 Easy DIY Projects for Christmas
- And finally when you’re ready to finally dispose of your tree, you can have a bonfire, (remember to check local guidelines for bonfires) and then spread the ash in your garden beds. The nutrients from the ash will help to nourish the soil.
- If none of the above ideas grab your fancy you can of course take your tree to the local waste disposal site. Some local councils offer a tree collection service with convenient collection points around towns and villages including local parks where trees and chipped for use as mulch in local parks and gardens. Some garden centers also offer this service.
So there you have it, your tree can still be useful once the Christmas festivities are over. Recycling or reusing Christmas trees to make the most out of the natural resource can make a huge difference in so many ways if everyone was to do it. If you decide to do something creative with your Christmas tree in January, we would love to hear about it. From functional feature to something arty for the sake of art, send in your photos and if you’re happy for us to share them with our community of wood lovers, we might just do that.
So from everyone here at Wood Finishes Direct, we wish you all a very happy Christmas and a thoroughly enjoyable and safe New Year.