Learning from Experience—Planting a Live Christmas Tree

During the month of December, families around the world celebrate many traditions—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, to name a few. In my home, we celebrate Christmas. For me, one of the things that sets me in the mood for the holidays is the fresh scent of live pine trees. Several years ago, I wanted to do something for the environment by purchasing a live Christmas tree to plant after the holidays. Didn’t think much of it in advance. Just bought a nice size tree with the burlapped root ball and took it home. Placed the tree in a corner not far from the fireplace. Kept it decorated well after the holidays since I was in no hurry to plant it. As it was starting to warm up, planted it in the front yard. Well, those of you who know more about trees than I probably can anticipate the outcome. That tree did not survive my care, unfortunately. Little did I know at the time that I was doing everything wrong.

First of all, a live tree should not stay in your warm living room for more than ten days. After it has served its purpose as a Christmas tree, you should move the tree to a cool area like your garage or shed in preparation for planting. Since you want to plant it as soon as possible, it is advised to plan ahead. You might want to dig the hole in your yard even before the ground freezes so that you will be able to expedite the planting process at the right time.

I must note that after my first experience, I did some research and was determined to have a live Christmas tree again. The second time I followed correct procedures. The outcome—a pine tree that has been living for over eight years in my back yard and which we have decorated during subsequent holidays. Might not be the most beautiful tree, but it definitely has a special value for our family.

So here are some tips for those who wish to give a gift back to nature during the holiday season. There are many ways to be green during the festivities. Which traditions do you celebrate in your family?

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies