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Outdoors: Oh, Christmas tree

By Melody Bell Wilkes
For the Salisbury Post
Christmas trees come in all sorts of varieties, but they all need the same care once you get them home.
Here are some timely tips to make the best of your cut tree so that it will last for several weeks.
The sooner you get a tree home so it can get a drink of fresh water, the longer it will last. If it is going to be a while before you bring it inside, store the tree in a shaded location with the trunk in water. Make sure you cut off an inch at the base so the tree can drink. Once a tree is cut, resin forms a seal at the base and will prevent water from being absorbed, so a fresh cut is needed.
Before purchasing a tree, try gently pulling on a few of the needles to see if they come off easily. If they do, then the tree is too dry; shop for another tree.
When you are ready to bring the tree inside, locate the tree in an area away from heat vents and fireplaces. Place the tree in luke-warm to cool water. The tree should be provided with a quart of water for every inch in trunk diameter. Additives are not necessary. Never allow the water to go below the bottom of the trunk or else a seal will form. Check the water level daily and fill as needed.
Before you decorate, check each string of lights to ensure that the bulbs are working properly. Inspect the cords to make sure they are not frayed. If possible, use LED Christmas lights to conserve energy and help keep down the heat so the tree doesn’t dry out prematurely. Turn off the lights when not in use to save energy and to lessen any potential for fire danger.
When it is time to take down the tree, remove all tinsel and other decorations. Your tree can be taken to a site that recycles Christmas trees. But for the best use of your old tree, place it outside to attract wildlife by stringing popcorn and berries on it. Another alternative is to cut off the branches and use it as mulch over perennial beds.
Have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy your tree!
n n n
Melody Wilkes is owner of A Walk in the Woods, an environmental education company that provides outreach wildlife programs. Contact her at 704-436-9048 or visit www.awalkinthewoods.us.

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