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  • Writer's pictureKiersten

Caring for a Fresh-cut Christmas Tree is Easier Than You Think

We used to think having a fresh-cut Christmas tree would be a total hassle. I mean think about it, Hollywood hasn't exactly trained us otherwise. From Clark Griswold's squirrel fiasco to Buddy the Elf's famous jump to put the star on, it always seems like people get themselves into a pickle. But with a little patience and PROPER care from the moment you find that perfect tree, it's really quite easy! I say it's easy with PROPER care, because we learned this lesson the hard way in one of the first years we decided to swap our cheap artificial tree for a fresh-cut tree. Zach was always so apprehensive about a fresh-cut and claimed that he'd get too itchy setting it up and carrying it in like he was allergic. And didn't want to scratch the top of his car. But after I realized Earl May, our local garden center and nursery, would DELIVER the tree to your house for free - game changer. I finally got that fresh cut tree I was after and, like I said, after learning some hard lessons, realized it's really just 3 things you need to do as a beginner to set yourself up for success.

Now we feel like pros and Zach has even embraced bringing it home ourselves since we figured out we could get it INSIDE his SUV.

Family with christmas tree inside suv

3 Simple Steps to Caring for Your Fresh-cut Tree

1) Cut off the bottom of the trunk.

The key to success is to actually have a FRESH CUT tree - meaning the bottom inch or so of the trunk needs to be cut right before you get it in the house and watered. The tree saps over the cut so if you don't cut the tree right before putting it in water you risk it not being able to soak up any water. Not good. A dry, thirsty tree is a safety hazard and will likely not make it to Christmas Day looking very good. We have Earl May make a fresh cut right before bagging it up and loading it in the car. We live close enough and transporting it in the car seems to work. But for safety, until you have done this a few times, I'd make a quick cut on the driveway or in the garage before bringing it inside.

bagging up tree at Earl May

This was the lesson we learned the hard way. One of the years we had the tree delivered, we didn't realized we would need to cut the bottom before putting it in the house. It's wasn't a same-day delivery like we had before so we didn't know better. So we went on our merry way decorating the tree. A day or so later I realized the water hadn't gone down any which was a bad sign. Long story short, the tree, fully decorated had to come down, and Zach sawed the bottom off INSIDE the house leaving a huge mess of needles, decorations and now saw dust in the living room.

Zach cutting tree in living room

The aftermath:

tree needles and ornaments all over floor

2) Get that tree in water immediately!

Get the tree in the stand by putting it down on the pins with some force, screwing in the brackets while someone holds the tree straight and then filling it as full with water as possible.

bagged fresh cut tree in stand  in living room

For safety, I like to stop at this step for an hour or two to make sure the tree is drinking.

water in tree stand

When I know it is, then I take it out of the bag and let it settle in another hour before decorating. This process takes longer than throwing an artificial tree up, but it's worth the wait. The fresh-cut tree smells as wonderful as it looks.

tree in tree stand in living room

3) Water. Water. Water. Don't let it get dry.

I check water levels in the morning and evening for the first week and fill the base with a watering can. I also add a little bit of Tree Life Christmas tree nutrient to the water to give it an extra chance of looking fabulous longer. Picked this up at Earl May with the tree.

tree life and watering can on counter

After about the first week, you can usually go to a once-daily watering schedule. I'm sure the pros may have more to say about how to properly care for a fresh-cut tree, but sticking to these three tips you should be good to go until Christmas! Enjoy the holiday season!

tree fully decorated in living room


Need a fresh-cut Christmas fix? Here's what we used:

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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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