Magazine article Sunset

Life with Monster Christmas Trees

Magazine article Sunset

Life with Monster Christmas Trees

Article excerpt

Sunset readers tell how to support, decorate, and water big cut trees

CERTAINLY, WE'D ALL like to identify with the living tree article on page 62. But the cold facts are, many of us prefer plantation-grown, shaped or sheared Douglas fir, Monterey pine, Noble fir, Colorado blue spruce, or Scotch pine cut at a tree farm or whisked home from the corner lot.

And, boy, do we ever like 'em BIG.

Home buyers see a vaulted living room ceiling in July and envision a majestic, decked-out tree reaching its ridge in December. Remodelers install double front doors to make getting the monster into the house a simpler task, or raise the roof and push out walls to accommodate a big tree. Those two-story entry halls are just the places for big evergreens.

How do we know this? Scores of Sunset readers told us last December when they responded to our question "How do you put up a really big tree?" According to our respondents, a big tree isn't just a tradition. Choosing one and setting it up is a family adventure and a quest, for some even an albatross.

How do you get one indoors, set it up, and keep it up? Here are answers. Our readers have learned a lot of lessons over the years, and we share their tips.

FINDING YOUR BIG TREE

Hard-core big tree folks cut their own, particularly in the Northwest's timber country, where there's access to larger, less expensive trees than elsewhere. Beyond timber country, expect to pay a king's ransom for a big tree, especially if you have it delivered. For a more reasonable price, you may be able to find an unwieldy ugly duckling at a Christmas tree lot.

The challenge is to buy a big tree that's just the right height. Several readers lug to the lot a pole the height of the tree they want, to make sure they're not off on their eyeballing. "We've learned since the first tree to measure before we bring it inside," one sensible reader wrote.

GETTING IT SET UP

Our respondents are a creative bunch. To steady big trees, they wedge them into washtubs, or set them into rock-filled 5-gallon buckets or in oil-changing pans mounted to plywood bases.

To protect floors from water spills, they put a covering such as a plastic drop cloth under a plywood square attached to the stand. One reader cut the corners off the plywood--tree skirts are a lot more likely to cover an octagon than a square.

Are these solutions inventive? Yes. Trustworthy? Not always. We read too many letters relating the heart-breaking year the tree toppled and the heirloom ornaments were shattered. …

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