Christmas tree watering device

We recently planned a one week trip over Christmas. We wanted to have a Christmas tree for a few days before we left, and to have it waiting for us when we returned.  We like Christmas trees a lot, and usually keep one for about two or three weeks.  When you keep a tree this long, you risk having a good fraction of its needles fall if you don't keep it well watered.  Poor watering also increases fire risk. Although we had a neighbour come in to check the house, we didn't want to burden her with the chore of watering the tree. Our solution was the device shown in the photo below.  It keeps the level of the water in the tree stand constant without attention for about 8 days. Having once used this device for watering the tree while we were away, we decided to use it every Christmas, whether we plan to travel or not.  It greatly reduces the attention and effort required to keep a Christmas tree well watered. If you let a Christmas tree stand get dry, so that the butt of the tree sucks air, you greatly reduce the subsequent ability of the tree to take up water.

The watering device has three components: a plastic bucket, a five US gallon/18 liter  plastic water bottle, and a five foot (1.5 meter) plastic tube. The photo below shows these components.   The plastic tube acts as a syphon to maintain the same level of water in the bucket and the tree stand. The water bottle acts as a reservoir which maintains the water level constant in the bucket.  When the syphon draws the water in the bucket below the level of the top of the inverted bottle, air enters the bottle and water exits the bottle to restore the water level in the bucket to recover the top of the bottle. Note the hole drilled or cut  in the bucket just below the point at which the wire handle attaches to the bucket.  This hole admits the plastic tube. There is another hole similarly placed on the other side of the bucket to ensure a free flow of air into the bucket

The first step in assembling the device, filling the plastic syphon tube with water,  is shown immediately below. Fill the bucket half full, immerse the plastic tube, and expell all air from it. Note the hole in the side of the bucket. The black line below the hole indicates the depth to which the top of the inverted bottle projects into the bucket, and hence the depth at which the bottle will maintain the water in the bucket. The hole must be above the surface of the water.

I used a plastic ear plug to plug one end of the plastic tube under water.

Here is the plug in the plastic tube:


Place the bucket and tube on a chair near the tree stand, or have an assistant hold the bucket a foot or so off the ground. Push the plugged end of the tube out of the hole in the bucket, being sure not to let any air into the other end of the tube. The tube is completely full of water. For clarity in showing the procedure, there is no tree in the stand, but you will probably want to assemble the device while the tree is in the stand.


Pull the tube down into the tree stand and unplug it when it is in the tree stand. An alternative to the plug would be to suck water into the tube from the bucket  when the tube is in position to be plunged into the tree stand.


Immediately lower the bucket to the same level as the tree stand. Be sure that each end of the tube is near the bottom of its container.


Now fill the water bottle and invert it into the bucket.

The device is now assembled and working. Refill the water bottle about once a week.

David Delaney, Ottawa, January 2003
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