Torrey Pines Landscape Company

Torrey Pines Landscape Company
As featured in Ranch & Coast Magazine ( design by )

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If your conscience has ever felt the pangs of guilt of having a tree cut for your holiday use of just a few weeks...and an artificial tree doesn't suit your style, you may want to consider purchasing a living Christmas tree. A living tree comes with the roots intact for the purpose of planting it after the holidays pass. They are usually more expensive but they provide more long-term value and create less waste. A well selected choice not only enhances your landscape but it will make the memory of your holiday season linger and grow in your own yard. If your garden design doesn't need any more trees, a great option would be to donate it to a plant-a-tree organization. The usual fresh-cut varieties of Christmas trees like Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir or Blue Spruce are not suited to our climate zone here in San Diego. They are cut and shipped outside their natural areas. For San Diego, you'll have to select a tree that will: 1. thrive in our local zones and 2.Fit in your landscape design. For estates with lots of space, here are a couple of options: Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) or Incense Cedar (Cedrus deodara). For a smaller garden, you could choose a Blue Point Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Blue Point').
So here are some tips for opting for an 'Environmentally Conscious Christmas:
1.If your going to donate: find an organization before you purchase the tree. Living plants need care from the second you bring them home and you wouldn't want a lapse in care post-holidays to prevent a successful transplanting. If your going to plant it: 1) pick the spot wisely by researching how much space a mature tree will need and 2) dig the hole before you even bring the tree inside the house. (Next weeks blog- tips for planting)
2. Keep in mind a living tree is much heavier than a fresh-cut tree. A balled and bur-lapped tree with its roots and soil should be kept constantly moist. (a 5' tree can weigh about 200 lbs) You might want to go for a living tree sold in a container pot instead.
3. Selecting a tree that has moist soil, a firm root ball and flexible branches. A lot of needles shouldn't come off when you brush a branch gently. When handling and moving , lift it by its roots rather than trunk. Be gentle.
4. It's best to acclimatize the tree to its indoor debut. Store it under a covered porch or garage. Living trees can't stay inside for long, so wait to bring them in until the week of your celebration. The less time indoors the better. There are anti-wilting sprays that help keep the tree moist and prevent the loss of valuable moisture. Plan for about 5 days inside.
5. Locate in a cool area away from heat. A balled-in-burlap tree can be placed in a galvanized tub & straightened with rocks. Add about 3" of mulch to help aid in retaining moisture. Don't pile mulch directly on the trunk. The same, more or less, goes for a potted tree, put it in a pan & add mulch. You'll need to water the soil/mulch mixture often as necessary to keep the roots moist.
6.Decorating. Live trees can be decorated as long as you use care. Use small lights that DO NOT give off any heat.
7. Next week - the replanting guide for your Live Christmas Tree
If you're thinking, this is different than a fresh-cut tree. You're right. Having a live tree in your home is an 'eco-friendly' choice that is well worth any of the inconveniences that the differences may entail. Beyond the commercialism, lies the symbolism. Evergreens promote good cheer and hope while reminding us of the life just waiting to burst forth in the coming spring. What better way to honor life than to give your holiday tradition a future for decades to come.

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