Guilt-free Christmas tree
Oh, the guilt. How can we live with hacking down a healthy living tree for our short-lived enjoyment? Artificial trees—even without pink flocking—are just so, well, unnatural. Here is a hybrid that can solve the dilemma. A reusable “trunk” is drilled and studded with one or two evergreen boughs trimmed from a live tree.
An environmental bonus: Culling branches from the lowest part of trees can make them less vulnerable to forest fire. If you don’t have a forest in your yard, try asking for culled branches at a Christmas tree lot.
Making the tree is simple, but it helps to study the size, angle, and position of the branches from the tree before you take them. One or two boughs from a spruce, fir, or pine should be plenty for a three- to five-foot “tree.” A frond positioned vertically out of the top finishes it off and gives you a place for a well-deserved gold star.
The center “trunk” can be from a dead tree, last year’s Christmas tree, or a two- to four-inch wooden dowel set in a tree stand or rock-filled bucket. The trunk should be fairly thick all the way to the top to support the branches. This trunk and stand can be used again with new boughs for years to come.
Real trees have four or five branches that radiate from the trunk at four- to six-inch intervals. Drill holes straight or at a slight downward angle, using progressively smaller drill bits as you ascend. Insert branches. Masking tape wrapped on the insertion end of the branch can help it fit snugly.
The tree should be roughly a cone shape, tapering toward the top with smaller and smaller branches. Fill in sparse areas by drilling a new hole and inserting a branch. Your faux tree should last a few weeks, although it will drop needles over time. Use all the usual precautions you would with any tree to limit fire danger.