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Tips on how to buy a Christmas tree that’s just right and what to do with it when you get home

Christmas comes but once a year and picking out the perfect tree can be a great family tradition and knowing how to keep it green and fragrant once you get it home is really not that hard to do.  Following our some of our best tips on how to make the most out of your Christmas tree buying experience.

When is the best time to buy a tree?

Christmas trees usually arrive in our area from tree farms just before Thanksgiving.  The earlier you get out to buy a tree, the better selection you will have.  Waiting until closer to Christmas to buy a tree will not get you a fresher one, just one that’s been on the lot longer.  What will make the difference however is how long the tree is up in your house!  The longer the tree is in your house, the more it can dry out due to warmer temperatures, drier air and less water intake which then promotes needle drop.  With proper care, trees can last indoors for around four weeks.

Measure Twice, Buy Once – Before you come out to the farm, make sure you know what size tree will fit in your house. Measure the height of your ceiling and then subtract the height of your stand and the tree topper to get the maximum height tree. Also measure the space around where you want to put the tree to see how wide of a tree you can get. Trees have different girths so you want to be sure you buy one that’s too wide for the area.  Next measure the diameter of the hole in your tree stand with the bolts barely sticking through the sides. You want to be sure the trunk of the tree you buy will fit and that it’s big enough to keep your tree upright. Next measure the distance from the bottom of the water bowl to the top of the stand where the anchor bolts come through.  You’ll want to know this length when it comes time to trim any branches off the bottom of the tree.  Another option is to simply bring your stand with you to make sure of a perfect fit.  If you plan to buy a larger tree this year than last year, you may need to invest in a bigger stand.

What type of tree should I buy?

There are many varieties of Christmas trees and Burger Farm sells the ever popular Fraser Fir, known for its fragrance and superior needle retention and also Canaan Fir and Concolor Fir.  Each variety of trees has its own unique characteristics and they all have good needle retention, so in the end it’s all about personal visual preference.  All of our trees come fresh cut from our tree farmers and each variety is sure to provide good needle retention with proper care.

What should I look for when picking out a tree?

Check your tree for freshness – Grab any branch on the tree between your thumb and forefinger and gently squeeze and pull towards yourself.  If you end up with a handful of needles, look for another tree. It is perfectly natural for some dead needles to be on the inside of the tree due to cutting and transportation.

Check the trunk of the tree for straightness – Hold your tree upright and look at the overall straightness of the trunk.  A straighter tree is less likely to fall over once you’ve put it up.  Make absolutely sure the tree’s trunk will fit in your stand.   Caution – trimming bark off the tree to make it fit in the stand will strip the tree of its cambium layer, which absorbs water.

Overall shape and appearance – Look for a tree that has a shape that you like. Some trees are tall and skinny and some are short and fat.  Customers seem to always like the trees that are really full, but actually, trees with more open branches are better for hanging ornaments.  Word of advice – don’t fret over finding the “perfect” tree!  Once you get the tree home and decorate it with lights, ornaments and garland; every tree will look perfect.

We’ve found a tree; now what?

Once you’ve found the tree for you, let one of our associates help you with preparing the tree for transportation.  First, let the associate know if you plan on taking the tree home and putting it up in the next three to four hours.  If so, have them put a fresh cut on the trunk and then follow the directions listed below.  You also may want them to remove a few bottom branches so it fits in your tree stand.  If you plan to put the tree up later, take the tree home and store it somewhere outside, like a back deck or patio and leave it in the netting we put it in when you purchased it.  When the time comes to move the tree inside to decorate, do the following:

  • Give it a fresh cut on the bottom of the trunk; remove at least an inch
  • Place your tree stand in the selected location with the anchor bolts backed out
  • Place newspaper on your floor around the tree stand to catch needles that will fall once you remove the netting material
  • Place the tree in the stand in a vertical position and tighten the anchor bolts evenly. Once tight, make sure tree will stand by itself.
  • Gently remove the plastic netting by cutting it off starting at the bottom and working your way up. Allow the branches to unfold.  Check the stability of the tree in the stand; readjust anchor bolts and reposition tree if required.
  • Pick up the newspaper with any fallen needles and discard.
  • Immediately add water to the tree stand and make sure the bottom of the trunk is submerged. The tree can absorb a gallon of water in the first 24 hours and a quart or two of additional water over the next couple of days. The actual amount a tree will absorb will vary, but be vigilant the first two days, refilling the water when it gets low until the levels stay steady.

Proper tree care

Never let the water level drop beyond the cut end!  If you do, you run the risk of allowing sap to form which will seal off the tree’s ability to absorb water.

If your tree is located next to a fireplace, electric heater or furnace vent; these items can dry your tree out prematurely and cause needle drop.  Keep fires in the fireplace to a minimum and close the vent from the fireplace to help keep your tree from drying out.