I know there are plenty of good reasons for artificial trees, and some faux trees are deceptively “real.” We’re lucky here in the Pacific Northwest; real trees are plentiful, reasonably priced and absolutely gorgeous. I prefer Noble firs. They cost a few dollars more, but there’s just something about the lush, bluish-green foliage and the full, layered appearance that I can’t resist.
As a child, our tradition was to hike deep into the woods and cut the prettiest tree we could find (most were Charlie Brown Christmas trees at best), then retreated to my Dad’s truck for a cup of hot chocolate.
The tree would require hours of work before my folks deemed it was ready for a living room appearance. The tree was usually shortened and the spare branches were used to fill out the bare spots, which was accomplished by inserting branches into holes drilled into the trunk.
Once the tree was ready, the next step was to drag boxes of lights from the basement, followed by the untangling of the strings. Today, Christmas lights don’t last more than a year or two, but those lights were OLD and they tangled easily. I remember my Dad getting a surprising level of enjoyment from this task. (He was a patient guy who loved puzzles!)
These days, we purchase a tree from our favorite garden center. If this sounds like you, read on for tips for picking the absolute best tree!
First, measure your space for both height and width before you go. That mid-size tree may be unexpectedly huge when you bring it into the house. For most spaces, 6 to 8 feet is about right.
Keep in mind that trees sold in Christmas tree lots may have been cut weeks ahead of time – often before Halloween, depending on where you live and how far trees are transported. It doesn’t hurt to ask if trees are delivered throughout the season, or in one single delivery at the beginning of the season. Obviously trees last longer if they are freshly cut.Look for trees that have been stored in the shade.
Brush your hand lightly over the needles to test for dry, loose needles. Bend a green needle between your fingers. If the tree is fresh, the needle will bend. If the needle breaks with a snap, the tree is dry.
Hold the tree by the trunk and bounce it a couple of times. It’s normal for the tree to shed a few brown needles, but if green needles fall out, the tree is probably too dry.
Be sure the base of the tree is straight. Look for trees with a base of at least 6 to 8 inches, which is enough to fit easily into a stand.