Selection and Care
To some, Christmas just isn't Christmas without a real Christmas
tree. The following are a few hints to help you select that perfect
tree whether you purchase it from a neighborhood lot or a Christmas
- Decide on where you will place the tree. Will it be seen
from all sides or will some of it be up against a wall? Be
sure to choose a spot away from heat sources, such as TVs,
fireplaces, radiators and air ducts. Place the tree clear
- Measure the height and width of the space you have available
in the room where the tree will be placed. There is nothing
worse than bringing a tree indoors only to find it's too tall.
Take a tape measure with you to measure your chosen tree and
bring a cord to tie your tree to the car.
- Remember that trees sold on retail lots in urban areas may
have come from out of state and may have been exposed to drying
winds in transit. They may have been cut weeks earlier.Buy
trees early before the best trees have been sold and where
trees are shaded.Ask the retailer whether his trees are delivered
once at the beginning of the season or are they delivered
at different times during the selling season.
- Choose a fresh tree. A fresh tree will have a healthy green
appearance with few browning needles. Needles should be flexible
and not fall off if you run a branch through your hand. Raise
the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the butt
end. Very few green needles should drop off the tree.. It
is normal for a few inner brown needles to drop off.
- Remember to choose a tree that fits where it is to be displayed.
For example if the tree is displayed in front of a large window,
then all four sides should look as good as possible. If the
tree is displayed against a wall, then a tree with three good
sides would be okay. A tree with two good sides would work
well in a corner. The more perfect a tree, the more expensive
- Make sure the handle or base of the tree is straight and
6-8 inches long so it will fit easily into the stand.
- Do a little research on different Christmas
tree types. Some Christmas tree varieties will hold needles
longer than others.
Some tips for your family's visit to a local choose and cut
- Most tree farms keep their fields very well groomed, but
there are some things that are beyond the farmer's control.
Be careful of fire-ant mounds, tree stumps, an occasional
blackberry vine, uneven ground and sharp saws.
- Go to the farm prepared for a day in the country. Wear comfortable
shoes and old clothes. Bring rain gear if the weather is threatening.
The "cutter downers" and the "loader uppers"
should also have gloves. Don't forget the camera. It's
best to leave "Rover" at home (many farms will prohibit
pets). But, if a pet is allowed and must come along, keep
him on a leash at all times. Please don't let him "mark"
other people's trees.
- Saws are usually provided by the farm operator.
- Some farms measure and price their trees individually, others
sell them by the foot. Ask about the pricing policy before
heading out in the field.
- Head into the field and select the tree that fits your predetermined
needs. Check the trunk to be sure that it is sufficiently
straight. Keep in mind that pines will usually have, at least,
some crook in their trunks. Also check that the tree has a
sufficiently long handle to accommodate your stand.
- In the fall of the year all pines drop, or shed, a certain
portion of their oldest needles. This is a normal part of
the life cycle of the tree. This phenomena occurs because
the tree is preparing itself for winter. Most farms provide
shaking or blowing services so that you will depart with a
perfectly clean pine.
- Cutting the tree is easiest as a two person project. The
"cutter downer" usually lies on the ground while
the helper holds the bottom limbs up. While the cut is being
made, the helper should tug on the tree lightly to ensure
that the saw kerf remains open so that the saw does not bind.
The tugging force should be applied to the side of the tree
opposite the cut. A back cut should be made first with the
final cut coming from the opposite side.
- Bring the tree to the processing area where it will be cleaned
and netted. Netting makes transporting and handling the tree
- When you are checking out, remember to pick up a tree removal
bag if available. It can be used as a tree skirt and then
pulled up around the tree to help keep the floors clean when
the tree is being taken down. (Source: National
Christmas Tree Association)
- Now that you and your family have chosen that perfect tree
it's time to bring it home. Cover your tree with a tarp or plastic
for the trip home to keep it from drying out.
The following are a few tips on how to keep your tree fresh throughout
the holiday season.
- If you are not putting the tree up right away store it in
an unheated garage or some other area out of the wind and
cold (freezing) temperatures. Make a fresh one inch cut on
the butt end and place the tree in a bucket of warm water.
- When you decide to bring the tree indoors, make another fresh
one inch cut and place the tree in a sturdy stand that holds
at least one gallon of water, or a rule of thumb is one quart
of water for every inch of diameter of the trunk.
- Be sure to keep the water level about the base of the tree.
If the base dries out resin will form over the cut end and
the tree will not be able to absorb water and will dry out
quickly. Commercially prepared mixes; aspirin; sugar and other
additives added to the water are not necessary. Research has
shown that plain water will keep a tree fresh.
- Check all Christmas tree lights for worn electrical cords.
Use UL approved electrical decorations and cords. Unplug tree
lights at night.
- Miniature lights produce less heat and reduce the drying
effect on the tree.
- It's a nuisance to water a Christmas tree once it's decorated
with a tree skirt and surrounded by presents. Here's an easy
solution, supplied by Gene and Marian Anderson of Guse Hardware
in Minneapolis: Buy a funnel and a 3 to 4 foot length of vinyl
tubing to slip over the funnel outlet.Fasten the funnel/tube
with a twist-tie or twine in an out-of-the-way but reachable
part of the tree. Extend the tubing down the tree trunk and
into the tree stand reservoir. Now you can water the tree
through the funnel without bending over or disturbing the
tree skirt or its ornaments. (Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune)
- Take down the tree before it dries out. Many fresh cut trees
if properly cared for will last at least five weeks before
- Recycle your tree after Christmas. Many communities will
pick up trees and turn them into chips. You might put the
tree in your back yard and place bread and suet among the
branches for the birds.
- To "uglify" live evergreens in your yard to protect them from theft or vandalism, try this mixture from Cornell University.