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Wheeler: Maintaining your Christmas tree this holiday season
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It is during this time of year when everyone is busy buying gifts for loved ones and friends, going to Christmas parties and enjoying the magic of the holiday season influencing their children and grandchildren. With all of this happening, it is easy to forget to keep an eye out on the condition of your Christmas tree. 

When you first get a tree, you will want to remove about an inch from the bottom of the trunk and place the tree in the tree stand.

Then you need to water it as soon as possible. This is the No. 1 thing you can do to keep the tree from becoming a fire hazard. Keeping the tree away from fireplaces and heat vents also will keep it from drying out too much.

Check the water level in the tree stand every day to make sure the level does not drop below the bottom of the trunk. If you find that this has happened, the tree’s ability to take up water is reduced, drying it out faster. 

Think of tree trunks as giant interconnected straws. As long as the water level is maintained, water will continuously be sucked up through the tree. But if the column is broken, an air gap will stop the flow even if you add water to the tree stand.

Another consideration is the condition of the lights on the tree. Look at them carefully and make sure they are in good condition. If you have any doubts, throw them out and get new ones.

If you have homemade paper ornaments, be careful they do not get hot from touching a light.

When the holiday season is over, do not just throw away your tree at the landfill. If you have a family member or a friend who has a good fishing pond, give it to them to use as a fish attractor. Fish love to use structure for cover or protection.

Another use for your tree is to take it to a chipper, so it can be used as mulch this spring. From Thursday to Jan. 31, you can take your tree to one of the county compactor sites or the Hall County Recycling Center (1008 Chestnut St., Gainesville) to have it chipped and used for mulch. Mulch is available on Wednesdays at the Hall County Recycling Center.

Make sure everything is off the tree before taking it to the chipper. The Bring One for the Chipper program is sponsored by Keep Hall Beautiful and Hall County government. If you have questions, call 770-535-8284.

Having a Christmas tree in the house is a great tradition that has been around for more than 500 years. It is something I always remember doing with my father and it really helps to mark the season. Take precautions this holiday season and stay safe.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears weekly and on