Even though the Christmas tree you bought from a retailer looks as though it's perfectly cut along the bottom, it needs to be cut again. Cutting a slice off the bottom or base of the tree helps the tree absorb water once you place it in the Christmas tree stand.
Real trees, including cut Christmas trees, need water to stay fresh throughout the holiday season; otherwise, they'll dry out and become a greater fire hazard, plus they'll drop needles all over the floor or the Christmas tree skirt.
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1. Cutting your Christmas tree
The longer the Christmas tree base or bottom sits after being initially cut at the tree farm, the more sap develops along the cut area. Pine tree sap is thick enough to clog the pores of the wood on your Christmas tree. If the base of the tree trunk is clogged, the tree won't absorb water very well. It's like trying to drink a beverage through a straw with something wedged in the bottom end; some liquid may come up, but not much.
Even if you put your new tree straight from the car into a tree stand full of water, that sealed-up cut at the bottom hinders the tree's ability to stay hydrated. Unless the tree retailer cut the tree just hours before you purchased it, that base of the tree needs another slice removed.
2. Choose a saw
If you already own a hand saw, that's probably all you need to make a fresh cut at the base of the tree. A basic hand saw works well, and a bow saw, which comes in handy for general tree maintenance, also does the trick. If you're dealing with a small Christmas tree with a trunk diameter less than the length of a reciprocating saw blade, feel free to use a reciprocating saw with a wood blade to cut a slice off the tree bottom.
3. Cut the Christmas tree
Once you have the Christmas tree stand in place in the location you wish to display your holiday tree, position the pine tree horizontally, ideally outdoors. Ask a friend to hold the tree somewhere in its center as you cut it, as this helps keep the tree from moving. It's a good idea for you and your friend to wear heavy-duty work gloves and long sleeves for protection. Slice 1/2 inch off the base of the pine tree, or perhaps a little more if the tree is a bit on the tall side. Make the cut perpendicular to the sides of the tree trunk so the tree may sit straight up in the Christmas tree stand.
4. Insert Christmas tree in stand
Enlist your friend to help you carry the pine tree indoors. Set the base of the tree into the Xmas tree stand, slowly angling the tree upward until it stands completely upright. Enlist another friend or family member to tighten any screws around the rim of the tree stand to keep the tree completely upright. Add about 1 gallon of water to the tree stand reservoir.
5. Add the Christmas tree collar
Place a hinged or openable Christmas tree collar around the tree stand; the collar is essentially a Christmas tree stand cover, and the type that is hinged allows access to the watering port. If you aren't using a collar, a Christmas tree skirt works just as well, and it fits just about any size of tree stand.
6. Decorate the tree
Add your Christmas tree decorations, such as holiday lights and a tree topper, to your new Christmas tree. Choose LED Christmas lights for added fire safety, as these emit less heat than the old-school holiday lights, which get too hot for drying pine needles. Add nonbreakable Christmas ornaments instead of the glass kind if children or pets might otherwise break them. Enjoy your beautiful Christmas tree.
7. Water the tree
Remember to water the pine tree on a daily basis. A fresh-cut tree may use more water in the first few days than it does beyond that, so check the water level in the tree stand's reservoir before bed each night and again when you wake up, especially at first. Make sure the bottom of the tree is always submerged in the water.