How to care for a real Christmas tree

Tips to keep a real Christmas tree fresh and green

Having picked the perfect Christmas tree, you’ll want to make sure it stays fresh throughout the festive season. Knowing how to properly care for your tree can be the difference between it looking full and healthy or sad and bare. So here are our easy tips for looking after your Christmas tree this holiday.

For advice on choosing the right real Christmas tree for your home, as well as inspiration for decorating your real tree, check out our handy guides.

how to care for a real Christmas tree

Looking after your tree properly is a great way to make sure your tree looks its best for the duration of the Christmas season.

You might need

  • Your real Christmas tree
  • bucket
  • Panel saw (to trim the trunk)
  • A watering can
  • pot or a Christmas tree stand (check in store for availability) to place your tree in - make sure it can hold water without leaking

Step 1

Take the tree out of its netting as soon as you get it home to prevent mould and fungus growing in the damp branches.

Step 2

Before you set your tree up, it's a good idea to give it some water to avoid dehydration. Cut about 25millimetres (mm) off the trunk of the tree using a panel saw so that the cut base of the tree is fresh. Cutting the trunk means it takes in more water - like with fresh cut flowers.

If you're not setting up your tree straight away, securely place it in a bucket of water in the garden until you're ready to transfer it to a pot or stand. Keep it in a cool dry place away from wind and direct sunlight.

Step 3

When you are ready to set your tree up, shake the tree outside to remove any loose foliage or insects. You can also bang the bottom of the tree trunk on the ground to remove any dead needles.

Did you know?

When a Christmas tree is cut from its trunk over half of its weight is water.


Step 4

Stand your real tree in a stand or pot. If you need to, chop or saw off the bottom off the trunk so that it fits into your tree stand. Avoid putting your real tree in sand or soil as this can reduce the amount of water it can uptake.

Step 5

Locate your tree away from any heat source such as radiators. Heat will dry out the tree and it will lose its needles faster.

Step 6

Water your real tree every day to keep it looking plump and full. A dehydrated tree will start to droop and wilt very quickly, so moisture is the essential ingredient in looking after your tree. Add a minimum of 500millilitres (ml) of water a day. A real Christmas tree can drink 1 to 2 litres a day depending on its size and your heating.

If your tree is pot-grown, make sure you water the root ball. And if it’s kept outside on a porch, balcony, or in a garden it might need even more water to avoid it drying out.

how to care for a real Christmas tree

How to recycle a real Christmas tree

Once the New Year starts to roll around, it’s time to think about how to recycle your tree.

If your tree is cut:

  • Transport it to your nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre for recycling.
  • Find out if your local council offers a curbside collection service. You might receive a flyer or see a public notice with more details. If not, contact your council to confirm what recycling options they offer.

Did you know?

Recycled Christmas trees can be used as mulch in public parks and gardens, and to help prevent beachfront erosion.


If your tree is pot grown:

  • Transplant it into your garden.
  • Re-pot it into a larger-sized container, being careful to give the root ball sufficient space to expand and grow. If successful, you could bring indoors to enjoy next Christmas.
caring for real Christmas trees