Living with a greener Christmas tree in Eagle County |

Living with a greener Christmas tree in Eagle County

Tom Glass
Eagle County CO, Colorado
Tom Glass

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” When it comes to carbon footprints, a Christmas tree installed in your house, lit up magically for a week or so, and then tossed to the curb for collection by a waste disposal company, leaves a dinosaur-sized imprint.

Considering how essential a Christmas tree is to the celebration of Christmas, it’s highly unlikely we’ll cut the tradition until the Earth has shuddered its last choking gasp. That’s probably as it should be; some traditions are none negotiable.

There are ways to reduce the collateral damages caused by this symbol of hope, peace, love and charity. Even green people, people wrapping themselves in environmentalism the Grinchiest of greens, concede that utilizing a living Christmas tree that is planted after the holidays is not such a bad thing.

The question is how do you put a live tree in your home for the holidays and then after the festivities keep it alive long enough to get it into the ground come spring?

Given the weight of a live tree, and the fact that a live tree is, well, alive, some adjustments have to be made. Start by budgeting more for the tree.

If you can find one, a live tree purchased in this valley costs, minimum, $30 a foot for a small tree, and can run as high as $75 a foot for trees taller than 10 feet. A cut tree comes in at around $15 a foot. With economies such as that, it kind of takes the happy out of the holidays. However, the price of a live tree isn’t the limiting factor in the preceding paragraph. Finding a live tree is.

Because we’re just coming out of our collective stupor when it comes to such things as erasing carbon footprints and improving the hue of our greenness, there are few trees available up here suited to being hauled into a house. Heretofore, there has been scant demand for live evergreens in homes, so few provisions have been made to make such a novel and responsible idea simple and easy.

If you can locate a tree and can get beyond the higher cost of the tree, budget more for delivery and set up for the tree. A six-foot live tree weighs in the neighborhood of 350 to 500 pounds. I once had a four-man crew haul three 6- foot trees up three flights of stairs, through a master bedroom and onto a deck in order to form a screen to block the view of some offending neighbors. It was a costly undertaking conducted across hardwood floors and carpets protected by plastic sheeting. The crew was uninjured only because they were young, strong as a matched team of draft horses, and tough as nails.

If you think you’re tough enough and plan to pickup the tree yourself, at least have a plan for the appropriate vehicle.

At the requests of consumers interested in saving a few dollars, using a skid steer I have loaded large trees into the backs of a Lexus SUV, a Hummer, a convertible BMW, and across the roof of a Mini Cooper.

To save on wear and tear, borrow or rent a pickup truck; better still, hire the work done. Spending another $100 to $350 for tree delivery makes more sense than the explanation you’ll have to contrive for an insurance adjuster about how a tree came to collide with the interior of your vehicle.

Which brings to mind the interior of your home. To eliminate carpet cleaning from your Christmas budget, you’ll need to find a tub large enough to accommodate the root ball of a tree. The plastic tubs in which trees are sold have drainage holes. You’ll need something that isn’t designed to leak. And, it will need to be large if you plan on having a tree taller than four or five feet.

The root ball of a six-foot tree typically measures 24 inches in diameter and is about the same in depth. A metal washtub is rarely accommodating enough. You’ll need something bigger that isn’t on the holiday decoration market yet. Or, you’ll need to wrap the ball in plastic sheeting. The latter option is not a sound horticultural plan, but you’ll probably get away with it for the short time the tree is in the house.

And to ensure the tree lives until spring, the less time it spends in the house the greater its chances for survival. A week is about all a tree gone dormant can handle before it confuses your fireplace-lit living room for an early spring. Haul your Yule-time treasure into your home as close to Christmas as possible and then back out into cold before the New Year. While waiting spring, pile the tree into a snowdrift out of the wind until the ground thaws enough for planting.

I caught a lecture by Thomas Friedman, columnist for The New York Times and author of two books ” The World is Flat, and Hot, Flat, and Crowded ” that contain his views of the coming economies that will shape our future. During the course of the lecture he predicted that adjusting to a new energy future would not be without its

If switching to live Christmas trees in place of cut Christmas trees is any indication, we’re in for some work. However, given the opportunity to adjust to a changing market, I predict evergreen nurserymen will come up with a better way to celebrate Christmas with a live tree soon.

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