Prep the ground early for a living Christmas tree

DDad planted trees, so did mom. I remember their many attempts to keep Christmas trees alive by purchasing them bundled in burlap bags and planting them later in the yard. One of those amazing trees is now so large, it dwarfs their two-story house.

There are also miniature pines which will stay fairly small over the years and are absolutely lovely in their appearance. Available from most plant nurseries, they make sweet Christmas trees when decorated and later, fabulous landscape features. Miniature pines are a big favorite of our family.

Fall is a great time to prepare a planting hole in colder climates, if you want a living Christmas tree. That way you'll be ready before the ground turns into a giant ice cube.

Christmas Tree

• Make sure you dig a hole not too close to structures. Full size Christmas trees can grow absolutely gigantic.
• Keep the soil in a plastic bag, with a few breathing holes, and place it back into the hole. Extra soil, compost, or mulch will also come in handy when tucking in a new tree, and will later provide nourishment.
• You can cover the hole and soil bag with straw or compost, if you wish, and mark the edges with stones or bricks for visibility.
• Buy the tree within a few days of the holiday so that it will be indoors as little as possible. Keep it well watered and misted while indoors.
• Before filling in around the root ball with soil, make sure you like the placement of the tree. I always turn a plant various ways to make sure it is seated nicely with respect to the landscape.
• Remove the burlap and gently massage the root ball before planting the tree to release the roots. Fill the hole with water before placing the tree in place, and water the tree on mild winter days if the weather is dry.

I love the idea of a new dwarf pine this year. I think I'll dig the hole this weekend!

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