Choosing and caring for a real christmas tree
5th December 2013
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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 local Portsmouth market or shop or a Christmas tree farm.

You will need to decide which type of tee to buy as they all have their own traits:

NORDMAN FIR-The original non drop tree with good needle retaining properties,soft,wide and flat dark green needles.The tree presents a wide conical shape and the branches are not too dense.

FRASER FIR-Similar to the Nordman fir in its needle retaining properties and its soft,wide and flat dark green needles.The top of the tree has more branches than the Nordman fir and the base is not as wide,making it an ideal tree if space is at a prenium.

DOUGLAS FIR-A light green colour,thin but still soft and relatively long needles which have a lovely citrus smell making this tree unique.Has good needle retention.

SCOTS PINE-The best needle retaining tree there is,it has very long needles and gives a lovely pine smell to any room.

BLUE SPRUCE-A low drop tree that often has a distinctive silver/blue colour and a smell reminiscent of christmas.


NORWAY SPRUCE-The favourite christmas tree in England.It has the shape,smell and tradition of christmas past.

OMORICA SPRUCE-Similar to the Norway spruce,perhaps a little darker with a narrower base,it takes up less space,allowing it to fit in the smallest locations.

+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 and radiators. Place the tree clear of doors.

+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 string or cord to tie your tree to the car.

+Remember that trees sold in markets or shops may have come from a long way away 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 cared for.Ask the seller whether the 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 your hands through the branches. Raise the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the bottom 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 it will be!

+Make sure the stem or base of the tree is straight and 6-8 inches long so it will fit easily into a stand. ⢠Do a little research on different Christmas tree types. Some Christmas tree varieties will hold needles longer than others. At the Farm Some tips for your family's visit to a local choose and cut your own farm.

+Most tree farms keep their fields in good order, but there are some things that are beyond the farmer's control.

+Go to the farm prepared for a day in the countryside. Wear comfortable shoes and old clothes. Bring warm wet weather gear if the weather is threatening. If you are expected to cut down your choice of tree,you should also have gloves. Don't forget the camera! It's best to leave the dog at home (many farms will prohibit pets). But, if a pet is allowed and must come along, keep it on a lead at all times. Please don't let it "mark" other people's trees!!

+Saws are usually provided by the farm operator if they expect you to cut your own tree although the seller will usually do this for you.

+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 twists in their trunks. Also check that the tree has a sufficiently long stem to accommodate your chosen stand.

+In the late autumn and early winter 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 occurs because the tree is preparing itself for winter. Some farms provide shaking or blowing services so that you will depart with a perfectly clean tree.

+Cutting the tree is easiest as a two person project. The person cutting the tree 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 cut remains open so that the saw does not stick. 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.Again,the seller will usually take care of all of this for you.

+Bring the tree to the processing area where it will be cleaned and netted. Netting makes transporting and handling the tree substantially easier.

+When you are paying for your tree, 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.

+Now that you and your family have chosen that perfect tree it's time to bring it home. Cover your tree with a net or plastic for the trip home to keep it from drying out. Keeping Your Tree Fresh The following are a few tips on how to keep your tree fresh throughout the christmas 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 bottom 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 a few litres of water.

+Be sure to keep the water level around 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 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 EU approved electrical decorations and wiring. Unplug tree lights at night.

+Miniature lights produce less heat and reduce the drying effect on the tree.

+It's a pain to water a Christmas tree once it's decorated with a tree skirt and surrounded by presents. Here's an easy solution: Buy a funnel and a 3 to 4 foot length of hose pipe to slip over the funnel outlet.Fasten the funnel/pipe with a twist-tie or twine in an out-of-the-way but reachable part of the tree. Extend the pipe 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.

+Take down the tree before it dries out. Many fresh cut trees if properly cared for will last at least five weeks before drying out.

+Recycle your tree after Christmas. Many communities will pick up trees and turn them into mulch. You might put the tree in your back garden and place bread and suet among the branches for the birds.

Have fun choosing and decorating your real tree!!

About the Author

Peter L

Member since: 4th June 2013

An owner of Thebestof Portsmouth, I have lived in Portsmouth and Southsea all my life, so I like to think I have a good idea about what makes us tick. I am passionate about all things Portsmouth and Southsea,...

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