Friday, 9 December 2011

How To Pick The Best Christmas Tree

There's a perfect Christmas tree out there for everyone. From small tabletop trees to trees that nearly touch the peak of a cathedral ceiling, picking the right Christmas tree is all in the eyes of the beholder.

You cut or pre cut

 David Petts, co-owner of Haddon Nursery on Eddy Lake Road, has advice for people heading out in search of the perfect real Christmas tree. One of the first things a customer needs to determine is whether they want to cut down their own or buy a tree that has already been cut.


 Do you remember the scene from Christmas Vacation, where Clark Griswold takes his family out to cut down their Christmas tree? The family should have taken note of how tall their living room ceiling was, as well as to have grabbed a saw. Those heading out to buy a Christmas tree should assess how big of an area they have so they don't buy a tree too tall, wide or small.

Feel the needles

 When browsing amongst the available trees, feel their needles. Petts said you should not be able to pull off the needles. The needles should also be soft to the touch. Spruce trees drop their needles the fastest, about three weeks after being cut.

White pines

 Petts said white pines keep their very long needles the longest. However, decorating these trees can be challenging. Lightweight ornaments work better than heavy branch-bending ones.

Scotch pines

 Scotch pine trees are right in the middle, said Petts. These are popular because they are easy to decorate and the needles should stay put throughout the holidays, as long it's watered.

Fraser fir

 The Fraser fir tree is the most popular choice for many. Petts attributes this to the fact that it holds its needles quite well and its branches are strong. "It's good for decorating," he said.

 Regardless of which type of tree, pre-cut or freshly cut, the trunk needs to be sawed off about ½ inch from the bottom immediately before placing the tree in the stand. This step is crucial so that the pores, which have been sealed by the dried sap, is removed.

 By opening up these pores and removing the dried sap, the tree is free to soak up as much water as it needs.

Tree stands

 Tree stands come in a variety of styles. Petts said this is a personal preference of the tree buyer. For tall trees, stands that allow a rod to go up the center of the trunk offer great support. Most tree farms can drill this hole for their customers.

 When buying a tree stand, read the package instructions carefully, to see what size is appropriate for the particular Christmas tree. Some of tree stands readily available can hold tree trunks from 4 to more than 7 inches in diameter. Keep in mind how tall of a tree you have. The packaging will state how tall of a tree it can accommodate. The base needs to be wide and heavy enough to support a very tall tree.

 Tree stands that swivel or have their own watering system are also available.


 The most important thing to remember about Christmas trees and tree stands is to keep the stand filled with water at all times. Petts said if the stand runs dry, the sap on the bottom of the trunk will seal the pores again, preventing more water from entering. This situation will lead to needles falling off more quickly.

 Petts said he's heard of people claiming that sugar, aspirin and even bleach should be added to the water. From his experience, the best thing to use is plain, room-temperature tap water.

Living trees

 Petts said live trees with roots are becoming more popular, but because of their weight, smaller trees are the norm. These living trees, which are in containers or have their roots wrapped can be kept inside for about a week. The warmth of the home will prompt the tree to form buds. These trees can be brought in for up to 10 days at the most, and should be kept watered.

 Homeowners are advised to place a board or blanket over the area outside where this tree will be planted. When it's time to plant the tree outside, remove the covering to reveal fresh dirt and no snow to dig through.


 Some people switch to artificial Christmas trees due to allergies. Petts said although he has no scientific proof, some of his customers have told him that when they switched to a white pine, their allergic reactions lessened.


 With the first snowfall of the season on the ground, now is the time to pick out that Christmas tree. At Haddon Nursery, they sell between 350 and 500 Christmas trees every year, depending on the weather.

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