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thumb_DouglasAirhart2010Douglas AirhartConsider selecting a Christmas tree from a nursery this year with its root ball intact, then replant it in your yard after the holidays.

According to Tennessee Tech University horticultural professor Douglas Airhart, there are many beautiful choices for live Christmas trees. Selecting a live tree makes economical sense, too, because you can add your tree choice to your landscape to enhance the value of your property.

Airhart offers these tips for anyone planning to buy a live tree this year:

• Check with your local nursery now to see if a live tree selection can be reserved for shortly before Christmas Day. A live tree shouldn't be inside the house for longer than about two weeks before you return it outdoors.

• Once you've located a tree, ask the nursery for replanting instructions and ready the appropriate-size hole in your yard now. By January, the ground may be frozen and difficult to dig.

• Check for signs that the tree has been too dry. Gently rub your hand over a stem and needles. Any Christmas tree will shed some needles, but the shedding should not be excessive.

• Once your tree is inside the house, position the burlapped root ball inside a large tub, which will let you amply supply water. Even a small-sized white pine, for example, needs about a gallon of water a day to withstand the dry conditions inside a house. Keep the ball moist but not dripping wet.

• When you're ready to return the tree outdoors for replanting, select a sunny, relatively warm day to reintroduce the tree to the outdoor conditions.

Pines, spruces and firs are traditionally selected as cut Christmas trees for shape, color and ability to hold ornaments. But firs cannot survive our summer heat and are not good landscaping choices. Some non-traditional choices might work for you, especially if you want to enhance your landscape. Airhart suggests these trees might be workable choices: arborvitae, false cypress, Japanese black pine, deodar cedar, blue atlas cedar, Arizona cypress, Leyland cypress, Fat Albert or Hoops Colorado spruce.

Learn more about the care of live Christmas trees and other trees at the website TLC for Trees. View a video that explains how to select and care for a live Christmas tree here.