So you choose to do a live Christmas tree. I mean why cut down a tree when you don’t have too, right? And now that Christmas is over you are pondering what to do with that live tree sitting in your living room. Well, if you are thinking about planting it in your yard, you might want to think again.
As an early tree hugger, I planted a Christmas tree or two in my yard as an adolescent, so I understand the appeal. But there is actually a lot to consider and as good stewards of the trees, we have to highlight some of the more negative considerations below.
- The tree can’t go right back outside after Christmas. Before you purchased your lovely Christmas tree it was at the nursery, sitting outside in the cold. The tree, like it always did, sensed the season and went dormant. Once you bring the tree inside a warm house for more than a week, it thinks it is spring. Putting the tree back outside in the cold of the winter can shock it and possibly kill it.
- Typical Christmas tree varieties don’t make good yard trees. Most Christmas trees, given the opportunity to grow to their full potential, will grow big and wide and full, taking up an enormous amount of space in your yard. Also, if you are open to planting a large evergreen, the smaller and shorter-lived Christmas tree is going to be taking up a spot where a long lived evergreen could be planted and grow for 100’s of years, making a real impact on our urban canopy.
- The decorative pruning done to maintain a Christmas tree shape effects the long-term health of the tree. Christmas trees, even live ones, are often sheared on the side and on the top to give them a more attractive shape. Although this is good for ornament hanging it is bad for the long-term health of the tree. Trees sometimes never return to a good strong healthy structure after this type of pruning.
- It will probably need to be cut down sometime in the not-too-distant future. We here at Urban Forest Pro cut down a lot of these ill-fated Christmas trees very year. Once they have outgrown their space or become diseased and deformed you will need to hire an arborist for a minimum of $350 for the tree removal plus stump grinding to come and take it away.
Because we understand that you may have a young tree hugger at home, just like my poor mother and her backyard Christmas tree farm did, we offer you are few alternatives:
- Recycle this year’s Christmas tree but next year buy a tree from a reputable nursery and plant it tree outdoors, in your yard, in honor of Christmas. You can even decorate it if you want.
- Leave your live Christmas tree in the pot and if it doesn’t die of shock (keeping it on a porch for winter helps) save it to bring inside as your Christmas tree for next year. This tree will never be able to be planted permanently but you could get a few years out of it.
Regardless of which path you choose, we understand your desire to be kind to the live trees around you. It’s what we do every day and why we love our work. If you have any questions at all, even about the live Christmas tree you’ve now got sitting in your living room, feel free to call us here at 503-226-7143.