Ask the Experts, Tree Care & TrimmingTips for Trimming, Choosing, and Caring for Your Christmas TreeDecember 21, 2021Proper shearing and pruning create a high-density, symmetrical, and cone-shaped Christmas tree. There are a lot of methods on how to shape the festive tree, however, the basics are relatively similar. Caring for your Christmas tree properly stimulates new buds to form, encourages branch growth, and controls the shape and foliage for a denser tree.If you are a beginner when it comes to caring for your Christmas tree, here are some important pointers.Tools needed for pruning and shaping:Pruners in various sizes (small ones for fine-tuning, big ones for large branches)Garden shearsPipe cleaners and floral wires to reinforce a weak stem or connect branches together if there’s a gapTwine (if you find it helpful to visualize the tiers)Tips for trimming:Keep in mind that Christmas trees do better and respond well if you snip back the growing tips regularly in summer or fall.When trimming, always start from the top.Remove any upward-growing stems that are competing with the leader trunk (where you put the star).Use your shears to remove wayward stems and shoots that get in the way of achieving a nice pyramid shape.Remove damaged or dead shoots.Do not prune back further than this year’s growth. Remember that old wood will not produce new growth.Before creating a tier, examine the tree carefully to ensure that the area has even branches.Take a step back and check from all sides before moving on to the next tier.If you happen to cut a bit excessively that you leave a gap, you can close the gap with the use of a floral wire. The green pipe cleaner will also come in handy if you need to wrap around a weak stem that you might need to shape the tier.Choosing a tree:While there is joy found in growing your own Christmas tree, others prefer the convenience of purchasing one. If you want to buy a commercially-available tree, remember that the freshest trees are the ones that are harvested closer to Thanksgiving. Choose a variety that can adjust to indoor conditions well, and do not forget to make the environment conducive for a fresh tree before you bring one home.To check for a tree’s freshness, make sure that the needles are flexible enough that they remain attached when you tug on them. If they pull out easily or if the color is off, it’s very likely that the tree is already past its prime.Keeping your tree freshWhen it comes to maintaining freshness, maintaining a high moisture level is key. You can accomplish this by keeping the water level above the tree’s base and through the use of water holding stands. Other tips for maintaining freshness are:Make sure that your tree gets enough water.Keep your tree away from heat sources like direct sunlight or fireplaces.Be sure to use a tree stand that is capable of holding ample water, ideally 1 quart of water for every inch of stem diameter.Refrain from using additives like putting commercial tree preservatives, floral preservatives, sugar, molasses, bleach, aspirin, soda, or honey in the water. Clean water will suffice.Check your tree for dryness. If the needles break easily when you run your fingers across it, the tree is dry, and it’s best to remove it.There is nothing like trimming, picking out, and caring for your Christmas tree to kick off your holiday season. However, after the holidays, do not be in a hurry to dispose of your tree. They can serve as mulch for your perennial flowering plants or placed near bird feeders to serve as shelter for ground-feeding birds.