The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Tree Care

It’s Christmastime in Philadelphia! The streets are decked in lights, presents are hitting the shelves and even our dear friend Santa Claus has set up shop around the corner from 3rd St. Hardware.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned pro, it’s good to remind yourself of the proper ways to handle your Christmas tree. Potential dangers are all around the sweet-smelling symbol of Christmas, and you’ll need to show it some holiday cheer in order to make the most of it. That’s why we prepared this guide to taking care of your Christmas tree from start to finish.

Don’t Base Your Choice on Looks Alone

Right out of the gate, there are several varieties of Christmas trees to pick from, including spruce, fir, pine, cedar and cypress. Each of the varieties also have their own species to pick from. These trees vary in weight, needle density, smell and strength.

With all these factors to consider, the three most important are allergens, weight and branch strength. Some of your family members may be allergic to pine, but not spruce. Or if you have to carry the tree up 3 flights of steps to your apartment, you might opt out of a 6-ft noble fir, for example. Finally, a good idea when shopping for your tree is to bring one of your heavier ornaments and see how the branches hold up when you hang it. You’ll quickly find out that balsam firs aren’t a good fit for ceramics.

Evict the Critters

Did you know over 25,000 bugs may be hiding in your fresh tree? This number sounds scary, but most bugs will never leave the tree. If you store the tree in a garage or another dry indoor space before setting it up, most bugs will die within 24 hours from the warm, dry air. You should also give your tree a good shake to loosen additional pests and needles before bringing it inside.

These simple and natural ways are the best methods of preventing an infestation. While there are some sprays advertised to de-bug your tree, we do not recommend these. The sprays can compromise the health of your tree and even cause it to become more flammable, not something you want around the Christmas hearth.

Trim the Tree. Literally.

In Center City, it’s likely that you’ll buy your tree from your local grocer or the Christmas Village rather than heading out to chop one down from a farm, so your tree will be mostly ready-to-go. Just remember, before setting your tree in the stand, you should cut off about ¼” of the trunk. This will help the tree absorb more water and stay fresh throughout the holidays.

Anchor the Tree for Stability

You might have seen this recent article about a company in Britain selling ‘top-only’ Christmas trees to deter pets from causing disaster, but a ceiling anchor will protect your tree without sacrificing the bottom branches. To anchor a tree, tie a fishing line around the top and attach it to a screw eye in your ceiling to prevent your tree from toppling.

Decorate Strategically

Minimize the risk of Christmas tree kerfuffles by adorning them strategically. Make sure your ornaments are hanging from branches and not the light cords. You should also keep any candy canes, popcorn garland, or cookie ornaments hung out of reach of pets or small children. Same goes for tinsel, which is a known choking hazard for pets and can get trapped in their digestive systems if swallowed.

Water It!

Regular watering is the most important part of caring for your Christmas tree. Unwatered trees will lose their needles quickly. They are also an extreme fire risk: an unwatered tree can become engulfed in flames in under 10 seconds. Protect your family and home by using a tree stand that can keep your trunk submerged in water. This will also help keep your tree stable and anchored.

Don’t Trash Your Tree

Keep your Christmas tree “green” after the holidays by participating in Philadelphia’s Christmas Tree Recycling Program in January. There are over 20 locations throughout the city where you can drop your tree off to be turned into mulch.

If you throw your tree on the sidewalk, it will be picked up by the streets department and placed in a landfill with your regular garbage. Doesn’t seem like a fitting legacy for something that brings you good cheer.

3rd St. Hardware also carries special bags to place over your tree for easy cleanup. This minimizes the mess of needles by keeping them in one place rather than letting them fall off everywhere as you drag the full tree through your home.

3rd St. Hardware carries a variety of tools to help you care for Christmas trees, including stands, watering cans and anchoring materials. If you’re not sure what the best option is for your tree, just ask our friendly staff, and they will help keep you joyous and safe for the holidays.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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