By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Want a living Christmas tree that keeps on living for years to come? Consider buying a balled or burlapped tree ready for planting but use it in your home before making it part of your landscape. Planting the tree isn't the challenge; it's keeping the tree alive so it can be decorated and kept indoors before being moved outside for planting.
Climate and soil conditions vary around the country, so you'll get your best advice about a suitable variety of tree from a local nursery. When you've made your selection, measure the size of the root ball and ask for advice about what size hole to dig. Depending on where you live it might involve digging the hole for the tree before the ground freezes. Plan to protect the hole from heavy rain or snow with a tarp by filling it with leaves or mulch.
Store the tree in an unheated garage to keep the soil moist, and mist the needles every day so they don't dry out. A few days before Christmas bring the tree inside and set it in a sturdy container near a window; keep it far from heating ducts or a fireplace. Keep the root-ball moist and use cool lights and lightweight ornaments to decorate it.
If you live in moderate temperatures you’ll have the best chance of using a balled tree first in the house as a decorated tree and then planted outside. Carefully remove any decorations so you don’t damage the branches. Then gradually move it to the outside by storing it in a garage first for a few weeks and then moving it outdoors to its new home in the soil. Don’t take it outside until the threat of heavy frost is over and plant the tree in a well drained soil with good sunlight.
A nursery will charge $212 to deliver and plant a 6- to 8-foot high white pine tree with a protection of mulch. If you have a vehicle large enough to transport the tree and its heavy root ball, you can buy the tree and mulch for $95 and save 57 percent. If you plant it yourself, firm the soil around the root ball to eliminate air pockets, water it and protect the soil around the tree with mulch.
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From Mother Jones Should I Buy a Fake Christmas Tree or a Real One?
For environment-friendly ideas for holiday gifts and decorations, pick up a copy of the new book "I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas" by Anna Getty (Chronicle Books).
That sums it up. Knowing the average cost to plant a Christmas tree lets you compare doing it yourself with what you can expect to pay a contractor. To customize the cost to where you live add your ZIP Code in the cost box.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2019