Click below to listen to KMZU’s Ashley Johnson speak with Missouri Department of Conservation Forester Lonnie Messbarger:

Lonnie Messbarger

While a living Christmas tree may take more time and effort than something plastic from the store, the long term effect improves your landscaping and helps in the going green initiative.  Although keeping the tree healthy while it’s indoors is a key factor.  “Sometimes what you can do is keep moist cloths or burlap around the actual root ball to keep the dirt from drying out to much” explained Messbarger, “What it’s kind of hard to do is after you do put it in a pot, if you put to much water in there it will soften the soil and it will make it really hard to get out of the pot at a later time.  So try not to keep it in the house any longer than you have to and keep wet or moist material around it.”

After the holiday season has come and gone, getting your tree outside should be done in a timely fashion.  “The best thing to do is move it directly from your house out to where you want to plant it,” Messbarger described the transitioning process, “Go ahead and plan tit at the proper depth and then give it a good watering.  When you put the soil back you want to make sure it’s watered in well.  That will help re-balance the moisture content of that tree.  Even though it is winter time, it does make a difference.”  A little tip from the wise, dig the hole for your tree before the ground freezes.  Frozen soil is not easy to cut through, especially if you have a good sized tree.

The community is also reminded of easy disposal tips for cut trees.  “Some folks use to use them as fish habitats in ponds,” said Messbarger, “If you do that, make sure you get all the tinsel and ornaments off, and put a weight on it to sink it.  They can also be used for brush piles for rabbits and other small animals out in the wild.  In order to get it out of the house easier, we usually remove all the limbs so you don’t have to shove it through the door and needles fall off.  You can place the trunk and limbs in a wooded area and that stuff will rot over time and turn into soil.  For people in town, a lot of communities have an option to recycle trees.”

For more information, visit the conservations website at