5 tips for keeping a Christmas tree alive in an NYC apartment

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Few things feel cozier around the holidays than coming home to a Christmas tree, but keeping your festive foliage alive can be a particular challenge in small New York apartment. If you haven't done your tree shopping yet and hope to keep your tannenbaum fresh and healthy through the new year, read on.

  • When transporting the tree, keep it covered. If you're not having your tree professionally delivered, it's best to make sure your tree is netted or roped up before you schelp it home, the better to ensure that pine needles don't get all over your building's common areas, says Scott Lechner, sales manager at Soho Trees. And if your building has staff, as we've written previously, it's best to give them a heads up before you haul your tree home, so that they can either arrange for you to use the service elevator or make sure fixtures in the hallway are protected in the not-so-unlikely event that your tree hits a wall in transit.
  • Choose your location—and tree type—wisely. Besides the obvious considerations of aesthetics, what type of tree you buy and where in your apartment you set it up will be key factors in its longevity, as well. And in often-overheated New York apartments, the further your tree is from the radiators, the better. "Place the tree in its most ergonomic position, usually against a nook, cut-out, or wall space where it can be admired, but not tripped over," Lechner recommends. As for recommended varietals, says Lechner, "We like to put a Fraser fir in a small NYC apartment. They shed their needles less, and are relatively climate tolerant." Fraser firs also happen to be one of the most common options you'll find at most tree stands, and has a slightly slimmer profile than most, making it an easier fit in apartments that are short on space.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Trees are always thirsty, and in an apartment with an overactive heater, this is especially true. (As the New York Times notes, trees can guzzle up to a gallon in their first two days, so keep a close eye on the water level in your tree stand.) "New York City apartment dwellers, because of their lifestyles, have to be more conscientious about hydrating their trees, since they tend to spend more time out of their apartment," reminds Lechner.
  • Let in some natural air. "The best thing you can do for your Christmas tree is to crack a window open," says Lechner. "An overheated apartment can dramatically reduce the shelf life of your tree. By making sure that the tree has plenty of water, not placing it near a heat source, and cracking a window open, your tree will last the whole holiday season."
  • Keep four-legged roommates from turning the tree into a toy. While Lechner notes that real trees are non-toxic, and don't pose health issues to pets, if you're worried that your cat or dog might do a little impromptu "tree trimming" of their own, the Seattle Times recommends putting citrus scents (such as orange or lemon-scented air fresheners, or some natural tee tree oil) near the base of the tree, or using a ScatMat, which emits a low-level electrical pulse to keep pets away from unwanted areas. Or, says Lechner, "To dissuade your pet, perhaps you can position an occasional treat on the opposite side of the room."