published Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

 Five tips for keeping your XMAS fresh


1. Select a tree with good color that is not losing its needles.

2. Cut the bottom of the trunk to allow water to penetrate.

3. Be sure to get the base of the tree into water within the first couple of hours and keep the tree bowl full.

4. Keep the tree away from heating sources.

5. Avoid broken lights on the tree, and don't overload circuits.

The lush green needles, the smell of pine. A live Christmas tree can help enhance the holiday spirit.

Caring for your tree is fairly easy, said Mike Tavares, manager of Tom Sawyer's Christmas Tree lot on Cherokee Boulevard.

When selecting a tree, he said, look for one that holds its needles well. If the needles come off too quickly, the tree might not be as fresh. Seeking a richly colored tree is also key. A tree that has lost its color is older and will likely not last as long as a younger tree.

Make sure you put a fresh cut in the bottom before you put it in water. Trees will sap over at the bottom. This can be done with a handsaw at home or with a chainsaw on the lot. Be sure to cut at least an inch.

The tree, he said, will be very thirsty at first and will likely soak up more than a gallon of water in the first 48 hours. Be sure to get the tree into water. After that, make sure the tree bowl is full.

The water supply is taken from the trunk of the tree, so there's no need to moisten the needles. "As long as the bottom's got water, that's good," Tavares said.

Keep the tree away from sunny windows or heating sources, because that will cause the tree to dry out faster. "Ideally, keep it away from radiators, stoves, fireplaces, obviously," he said.

The flexible branches are not damaged by Christmas decorations, he said, and will fare well as long as they are not broken. Broken branches will sap over, however, he said, so "it's no big deal." But try not to break them.

A fresh tree should last well into January.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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