Minimize live Christmas tree mess

A Christmas tree is often the centerpiece of holiday decorating. Trees come in many shapes and sizes, both real and artificial. Those looking for a more authentic tree gravitate toward real trees, with their rich, earthy smell and beautiful boughs of green.
While the sights and smells of real trees are what draw many people in, live trees do require more maintenance than their artificial alternatives. Falling pine needles and sap are part of the live-tree package, as is regular watering and some initial tree preparation. However, those who have their hearts set on a real tree can employ some strategies to minimize the mess.

Buy a fresh tree
Christmas tree lots may begin to crop up before Thanksgiving, meaning trees will have been cut and shipped weeks before. The tree you put up in your home may be at least two months old by Christmas Day. Also, trees that are open to full sunlight at tree lots can dry out prematurely.
When shopping, look for trees that seem freshly cut and have good needle retention. Grab a branch and see if the needles remain intact. Give the tree trunk a bump on the ground and assess how many needles drop to the ground. Look at the color of the tree and determine if it is wilting. These may be signs that the tree is old and on its last legs.

Choose the right variety
Some varieties of tree have more staying power after being cut than others. So-called “true firs,” such as noble, Fraser, Nordmann, and Turkish, usually last the longest. Douglas fir, Scotch pine, balsam, and grand fir trees also last long after being cut. Spruce trees, which are usually the least expensive variety on lots, may only last two to three weeks.

Wrap and transport
Ask the tree seller to freshly cut the bottom of the tree and wrap the entire tree in twine so it will be easier to move. Place the tree on the roof of your car with the trunk facing the front of the car. This way the wind will not fan out the branches and loosen up needles.

Choose the right location
It may seem like a good idea to put the tree right in front of a picture window, but if that window receives ample sunlight, the tree may dry out more quickly, leading to falling needles. The same can be said for putting a tree too close to a heating source, like a fireplace, radiator or heating vent. A cool, shaded area is best for keeping trees fresher longer. Fit the tree in the stand while it is still outdoors and wrapped up and then move the entire product inside to the right spot. This helps minimize dirt, bark and needles getting all over the room.

Time your removal
Removing a dried-out tree can be a cleaning disaster. It’s better for the tree to make its exit before it withers. A tree can drink a gallon of water per day, so make sure the stand reservoir is adequately filled. Over time, though, the tree may stop taking in water. When this happens, it is best to take down the decorations and get ready for removal. Hiding a tree disposal bag under the tree skirt can make it easier to get the tree out to the curb. Some people find there’s less mess by clipping off the branches and removing them in one lump, rather than navigating a full tree through small doorways.
Real Christmas trees can enhance holiday season ambiance and set the scene for the festivities to come. With the right care and prep work, homeowners can cut down on the mess associated with fresh trees.