With Thanksgiving leftovers gone, Columbia County residents are focusing on finishing their holiday shopping and stringing up holiday lights and decorations. And with the Christmas tree, the centerpiece of the yuletide festivities, many might be looking for ways to keep their tree fresh-looking and pine-scented.
Snowy Mountain Christmas Trees employee Reed Barrett helps Michelle Baker, of Edgefield County, choose a tree Friday from the tree lot in West Town Shopping Center in Martinez.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
The most crucial aspect of a great-looking tree is consistent moisture, said Glenn Brown, who owns Snowy Mountain Christmas Trees. For nearly 20 years, he has set up a lot in West Town Shopping Center and another in National Hills to sell trees from his Fraser fir farm in North Carolina.
"If it is a good fresh tree, cut fresh with plenty of water, it should easily last (all holiday season)," Brown said.
The first step to a lasting tree is choosing a moist tree, said Jenny Addie, nursery manager and horticulturist at Green Thumb West.
"Shake (the tree), bend a limb and run your hand down the limbs," Addie said, adding that dehydrated trees will easily lose needles and moist limbs will bend, not break. "Make sure you shake it and the needles don't come off."
Most tree lots will trim bottom limbs and make a fresh cut to the base of the trunk to ensure sap has not sealed it up, preventing water absorption.
"After you cut the bottom, the biggest thing is to get (the tree) into water as soon as possible," said Mike Hensley, of Plum Tree Farms, a Christmas tree lot owned by Calvin Burleson, who has been selling Fraser firs across from Club Car for 16 years.
If the tree is not going directly into a water-filled stand, it should be placed in a bucket of water in a garage or other area sheltered from wind, cold and direct sunlight.
A fresh cut to the stalk base might be needed before the tree is placed into a stand that holds at least a gallon of water.
"Trees do drink a large volume of water," Addie said. "They drink a lot in the beginning and then slow down."
According to the Georgia Christmas Tree Association, a tree will absorb as much as a gallon of water or more in the first 24 hours and one or more quarts a day thereafter.
Water is important because it prevents needles from drying and dropping off and the boughs from drooping. It also keeps the tree fragrant and full of color.
"Keep water in the stand at all times," Brown said. "Don't let it go dry."
A seal of dried sap can form over the cut stump in four to six hours if the water level drops below the base of the tree, preventing the tree from absorbing water, even if the stand is refilled. If a seal does form, another fresh cut will need to be made.
The association also recommends that trees be in areas away from heat and draft sources such as fireplaces, radiators, vents and televisions, which will further dehydrate the tree.
Be sure to test light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree. Do not use those with cracked insulation or broken or empty sockets. To reduce the risk of fire, never overload electrical outlets.
Plum Tree Farms
Location: Washington Road at Club Car Drive, Evans
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Trees: Fraser fir, 4 feet to 16 feet
Snowy Mountain Christmas Trees
Location: West Town Shopping Center next to Silverstein's Cleaners, Martinez, and Kroger
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday noon to 9 p.m.
Trees: Fraser fir, 3 feet to 16 feet
Prices: $19 and up
CSHC Christmas Tree Lot
Location: Christ's Sanctified Holy Church, 136 North Belair Road, Evans
Hours: Monday-Friday 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday noon to 9 p.m.
Trees: Fraser fir 4 to 10 feet
Martinez United Methodist Men
Location: Martinez United Methodist Church, 3614 Washington Road, Evans
Hours: Monday-Friday 3 to 9 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday noon to 9 p.m.
Trees: Fraser fir 5 to 10 feet
Prices: $39 and up
Young Life Christmas Trees
Location: In the Publix Shopping Center on Furys Ferry Road
Hours: Monday-Friday 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 8 p.m.
Trees: Fraser fir
Green Thumb West
Location: 110 Davis Road, Martinez
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Trees: Fraser fir; live (balled and burlap) Hemlock, Norway spruce and white pine; 6 to 8 feet
Greenbrier Nursery and Gifts
Location: 4749 Washington Road, Evans
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday noon to 7 p.m.
Trees: Fraser fir, 4 to 12 feet
Clarks Hill Christmas Tree Farm
Location: 39 Bennie Dorn Road, Clarks Hill, S.C. Take Fury's Ferry Road to Clarks Hill and follow the signs.
Hours: Monday-Friday 2 to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5:30 p.m.
Trees: Leyland cypress, Virginia pine, red cedar, Carolina Sapphire, Clemson Greenspire and Deodar cedar up to 30 feet
Prices: $28 and up
McCullough Landscaping's Christmas Trees
Location: Milledgeville Road Highway 78 next to gas station Jet BP, car wash, Harlem Speed Car Wash, across from Used Carz of Harlem. next to the car wash, Harlem
Hours: 4 to 8 p.m. Monday 9-7 Saturday; 1-6 Sunday.
Trees: Fraser fir, 6 to 8 feet
Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse of Augusta
Location: 224 Bobby Jones Expressway, Martinez
Hours: Monday-Thursday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Trees: Fraser fir, Balsam fir, Douglas fir, 6 to 10 feet
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