How to Keep Your Christmas Tree “Ever Green” (Tips for Buying a Live Root Ball Tree)

Live Christmas Trees, Live Root Ball Tree
Live Root Ball Tree at the Christmas Tree Farm

Several years ago, we bought a live root ball Christmas tree. (These are real trees with the root balls still attached so that you can plant them after Christmas). It was an experience that was both surprisingly taxing and awesomely wonderful. In fact, after dealing with our live leviathan evergreen that year, I swore I’d never buy a live root ball tree again. But you know what they say about saying never. And besides, what nature lover can stay away from a holiday practice that lets you enjoy the benefits of a live Christmas tree (they smell great and look charming), support local tree farmers, AND lets you save the tree? Viewed from that perspective it sounds like the real question should be: What doesn’t everyone buy a live root ball tree every year? Well, great as they are, buying them every year is unrealistic for most of us. If you’re debating a live root ball tree for this year (or want to consider something new for next year), read through my tips. Then you can decide if it’s worth it.

1. Make sure you have somewhere to plant it after. Sounds obvious, right? But you need a big yard or someone else who will let you plant the tree on their property after the holidays.

2. Measure the space in your house where you want to put the tree. Don’t just eyeball it. Get out the tape measure! Trees always look smaller at the farm than in your house. (And, if your husband and kids are like mine, they will gravitate toward the biggest, tallest tree imaginable. There are only two ways to combat this sort of holiday romanticism: cut a hole in your ceiling after you get home and realize your tree is too tall – or – while you are still at the farm, use hard numbers to convince them the “smaller” tree is the right buy). Remember to include the root ball in your measurement of the tree. Live root ball trees will not have as much tree as a regular Christmas tree because the root ball at its base will likely be a good 1 1/2 ft. tall.

3. Make sure you bring someone strong to the Christmas tree farm with you. This is not a joke. Unless you are a competitive body builder, you will need someone who can lift something that is between 100-200 lbs.

4. At home, make sure you’ve got a dolly and a huge metal tub. You’ll use your strongman to put the tree in the tub and then use the dolly to move the tree where it needs to go.

5. If it’s been super cold out, acclimate your tree in the garage first. I’ll admit, we skipped this step this year. But that’s because it’s been unseasonably warm where we live. Usually though, the best practice is to gradually introduce a tree that’s been living outside to the inside by keeping it in your garage for a few days before finally bringing it into the house.

6. Haul that monster in the house. The strongman and dolly make a reappearance here. You will need them! That sucker is heavy and hard to maneuver!

Live root ball Christmas tree
It looked tiny at the tree farm, but at home, it’s the perfect size.

7. Wrap a skirt around it and throw on some lights and ornaments. Voila! “Instant” live root ball Christmas tree!

live root ball Christmas tree
Over the years, we’ve collected tons of ornaments. Each one has a story and they all get put on the tree.

8. After the holidays, reacclimate it to the outside. This step is basically step #5 in reverse. If it’s really cold out, stick it in your garage for a few days to get it used to the new temperature. No living thing would welcome going from a nice, cozy sixty-eight degrees to a sub-zero one. This tree is no different.

9. Dig the hole. If you think your ground will freeze before this step, consider digging the hole before the holidays.

10. Plant it! Get your dolly, strongman, a shovel and a camera. This is the moment you’ve been working toward! Don’t water it, just pack soil around the root ball as tightly as possible.

This is our live root ball tree from years ago.

11. Enjoy for years to come. Our last live root ball tree is still with us, alive and well. Although we haven’t yet, you could also decorate your outdoor Christmas tree in years to come with edible garlands for the animals. Who knows? Maybe that will be our Christmas project for next year… 😀

Do you celebrate Christmas? If so, do you have your tree yet? Have you ever bought a live root ball tree? Think you might next year? Let us know in the comments!

Evergreens aren't the only thing in our yard. :-)
Evergreens aren’t the only thing in our yard. 🙂

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

2 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Christmas Tree “Ever Green” (Tips for Buying a Live Root Ball Tree)

  1. Though I’ve never used a live tree, I’ve always liked the idea. Planting a tree in the yard was never a viable option for me. Either there were too many already or the yard was too small. I found that just driving around the neighborhood until I found a house with an appropriate tree was much better. That way you can return in the middle of the night and remove the tree without all the hassle and costs that are usually involved. Besides, the neighbors appreciate helpful impromptu landscaping services, despite anything they may say to the contrary.

    1. Impromptu landscaping? I dunno, Shamus, sounds pretty risky. If someone tried that in my yard, I’d call the police. 😉 Warm wishes to you and Michelle for the holidays.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.