Ottumwa Life Holiday 2018 - Page 25

Keep your centerpiece healthy and safe all season long BY TRACY GOLDIZEN In real estate, you have the mantra of “location, location, location.” During the holiday season, if you opt for a live Christmas tree, it becomes “water, water, water.” Angie Atwood, who has owned Atwood’s Christmas Trees with husband Jeremy since 2008, couldn’t emphasize enough that keeping your tree alive through the holiday season requires water in the tree stand. “The bottom will seal over and the sap openings will close if you allow the water to go dry,” she said. The first thing they tell their customers to do when purchasing a tree is to make a fresh cut on the bottom of the trunk. That allows the tree to take on water. She recommends an inch or two of trimming with a hand saw, chainsaw or whatever tool you have avail- able; it’s also a service they provide at their business. Next, she said, you want to get the tree into a stand as soon as possible, with water in it, to keep the fresh cut open. Atwood suggests a stand that holds a gallon of water. And if pets get into that water? “Drinking the water is not harmful to pets,” she says. However, if you were to use an additive to the water, such as a fire preventa- tive, it could be toxic. One danger with pets, though, is the pos- sibility that they could knock over the trees or climb on them. “That’s one reason why you need to make sure you have your tree in a secure stand,” Atwood advises. Beyond watering, Atwood named some other tips that can increase the lifespan of your holiday centerpiece. The lifespan of a tree, she says, “is all dependent on the environment the tree is in.” There are several factors that can cause a tree to dry out faster. Dry heat can impact the length a tree is fresh for Christmas. Atwood advises keeping your tree out of direct sunlight, especially a south-facing window, as that can dry the tree out faster. You also want to avoid placing it directly in front of a heat source such as a vent or space heater. A humidifier can increase the lifespan of your tree as well if the air in your home is dry. And there are safety precautions that need to be taken with the trees as well. “There’s always a risk with the trees drying out. You just need to take precautions. Don’t overload them with lights, don’t have any exposed wires, make sure your lights are working properly,” Atwood advises, adding that one precaution to take would be testing all your lights before stringing them on the tree. Placement is key, too. If you have items like a wood-burning stove or a fireplace, keep your tree away from them. This is where the watering comes back into play. If the tree begins to dry out, it can become a fire hazard. “Heaven forbid it would fall over,” Atwood says. Despite the extra precautions a live tree requires, Atwood thinks many people continue to use them because they make it a holiday tradition to pick out a new tree every year. “It’s a different look every year; you don’t always know what your tree will look like,” she says. The authentic look and the scent are factors in opting for a live tree over an artificial one, she says. When the lifespan of you tree has run out, there are several options for disposal. One popular option, Atwood says, is using it for a fish habitat in a pond. She says people that utilize this option take the trees out and toss them into their pond, and it becomes a habitat for the fish to live in. “Just make sure you have taken everything off of it,” Atwood says. She has also heard of the same concept on land, where people take the undecorated trees outside and use them as a bird habitat. If you live in a city, there’s usually the option of curbside pickup that is designated on a certain day after the holidays. Ottumwa’s program recycles the trees into HOLIDAY! 25