How to Care for and Dispose of Your Live Christmas Tree

Father and son carrying a Christmas tree out of a farm

While faux Christmas trees may offer convenience and ease, there is nothing quite so classic and heartwarming as a live Christmas tree in your home for the holidays. Not only do live trees bring a little life, heartwarming scent, and holiday cheer into your home, but they are also more environmentally friendly than mass-produced plastic Christmas trees. Whether you’re a seasoned live Christmas tree-er or you’re making the transition from faux to fir, here is all you need to know about caring for and disposing of your live Christmas tree.

Getting Your Tree

A little girl smiling and laying in the trunk beside a christmas tree

Once you’ve picked your tree and brought it home, it’s important to get it into the water as quickly as possible. Especially during the winter months, when the air is often very dry, getting your tree into water as soon as possible will do wonders towards extending the freshness and life of your tree. If you can’t put it up in the house yet, then keep it somewhere cool, like a garage or porch in a bucket of water, until you’re ready to bring it into the house. Make sure it stays out of the wind and sun to keep it fresh.

The only tool you need for a live Christmas tree is a Christmas tree stand. These stands are what your tree will sit in and will allow it to stay upright and draw up the water it needs. Choose a special place in your home for placing your Christmas tree, but also keep in mind that it should be away from too much direct sunlight, any heaters or sources of heat, and, ideally, in a cooler part of the house. This will all ensure that your tree lasts longer and stays fresh. If the stump has been sealed over with sap, you will want to give it a fresh cut before putting it in the tree stand to ensure it can pull up the water it needs so that it doesn’t droop.

Caring for Your Tree

Person using a small white watering can to water their christams tree

Caring for Christmas trees is really quite simple. Like any other cut plant, it just needs some water. Since Christmas trees are bigger than your average bouquet, you want to be sure to check the water every day as fresh trees tend to be very thirsty. A freshly cut tree can drink up to a gallon of water a day in the first days. If the water level gets too low below the stump, the tree will create a film of sap that seals the stump, meaning you’ll have to cut a fresh opening. Maintaining the tree’s water supply will ensure that you have a fresher cheerful tree for longer. If your tree dries out too much, it will droop and drop its needles.

Disposing of Your Tree

A christmas tree laying by the curb with snow on the ground

When the holidays are long over and it’s time to move your drooping Christmas tree out of the house, you may be wondering how best to dispose of your tree. Luckily, there are many options, depending on where you live. In cities or suburban areas, people tend to bring their trees out with the trash. Your area may also have a tree drop-off, where old Christmas trees can be sustainably disposed of.

Chop It Up

Woman wearing ear and eye protection while chopping up a Christmas tree

You can also get crafty with disposing of your tree. If you have a wood chipper or would like to rent one, you can put your tree through the wood chipper to create a nice pile of fresh wood chips. This is perfect for adding to the compost, laying on walkways, or mulching gardens. If you opt for the latter option, don't forget to use the dried needles from the tree, as they add top nutrients to the soil and decompose well into garden beds. Or take some branches or needles from the tree to make wreaths, potpourri, or other crafts that could use a fresh pine scent. Finally, consider turning the wood into a DIY or creative project, such as woodwork or even pine boards for grilling your food within the summer.

Return to Mother Nature

Frest of pine trees, lush green grass and blue skies with mountains in the distance

Bringing your Christmas tree back to nature is another great way to dispose of it. If you live in an area with woodlands or lakes, a dead tree makes the perfect home for wildlife and can become a whole living ecosystem of its own. Drop your tree in the woods for the perfect way to give back to nature. You could also dispose of your tree by making a bonfire from it. A nicely dried Christmas tree will make a beautiful crackling bonfire for the whole family to enjoy — and it'll smell nice too!

Let it Grow

A couple smiling and holding each other while the man has a christmas tree tucked in another arm ready to take home

Some Christmas tree farms allow you to buy a Christmas tree, rootball to take home with you, and plant in the summer. This is a wonderful way to let the joys of your Christmas tree live on for years to come, even after the holiday season is over. Dispose of your tree by simply planting it nearby. Alternatively, some Christmas tree growers give you the option to bring back your Christmas tree for the year. You may even be able to come back and pick up the same fresh tree again next year. The perk is, it comes in a pot, so there's no need for a Christmas tree stand! Finally, if your tree is freshly cut, often the growers will let you bring the tree back to them so they can sustainably dispose of it.

Bring some greenery and life into your home this Christmas with a live and low-hassle Christmas tree that everyone in the family is sure to enjoy.