View Full Version : real christmas tree help

Red in Chicago
11-28-2007, 12:24 PM
I've never had a real Christmas tree before. Growing up as a kid, my grandma had the old aluminum type of tree and my parents had the artificial green one with the fake white snow on it.

When I moved out, I ultimately decided on the artificial type as well, though I really am sick of storing it every year. It's a rather large tree (9ft), so it takes up a lot of closet space.

Anyway, since I've never had a real tree before, I'd like to hear from some of you that routinely go and pick one out.

What is a typical cost for an average size tree? Are they really messy (losing needles) and how long should you expect it to last? When do you put it up and then take it down? Is it really worth it when you consider the time and effort to get it home? Just looking for some advice for next year so I may not have to store this tree again. Thanks.

11-28-2007, 12:28 PM
Some of my fondest memories as a youngster are of my family going down to our farm in Owen County and cutting down a tree. I remember my dad teaching me how you had to cut a notch in the side of the tree to control the way that the tree would fall.

Good times.

Needles were never too bad... dust bust 'em a few times a week. I remember ours using a bunch of water.

Not very helpful to your questions... but your thread made me remember it.

11-28-2007, 12:35 PM
And, oh yeah one more thing: Dunno whether or not you've got any pets, but they see it as another watering hole. :lol:

11-28-2007, 01:18 PM
Douglas Fir's are the tree of choice here.

Here's a list

1. Fraser Fir

The Fraser Fir may be the perfect holiday tree. Its attractive 1" needles are silvery-green and soft to the touch. Because there is space between the branches, the Fraser is easier to decorate than some trees. The firm branches hold heavier ornaments. The trees grow to almost perfect shapes, and as long as the cut tree is kept properly watered, the Frasier Fir has excellent needle retention.

2. Noble Fir

The Noble Fir is deep green in color and has unusually lovely branch shape. Boughs of this tree are often made into fresh wreaths. Its branches are sturdy yet the needles are not too sharp to decorate easily. Like the Fraser Fir, the Noble's branches have good spacing between branches so it's easy to hang ornaments on them.

3. Colorado Blue Spruce

A Colorado Blue Spruce has a nice pyramidal shape with strong limbs that can hold heavy ornaments. The Blue Spruce is known for its lovely blue foliage which can also appear silvery. If your decorating scheme does not include this bluish tint, this tree may not be right for your home.

4. Grand Fir

The Grand Fir has a glossy dark green color with needles that are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. This tree is soft to the touch and may not be able to hold heavier ornaments. It's a pretty tree htat grows as high as 300 feet and it's becoming more popular for homes.

5. Balsam Fir

The Balsam Fir is a beautiful dark-green color with airy, flexible branches that may not be able to hold heavy ornaments. It has an attractive form, it holds its needles well, and gives off a pleasant fragrance for your home.

6. White Fir (or Concolor Fir)

The National Christmas Tree Association notes that "Needles are usually 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch long, pointed or notched at the tip, bluish-green when young turning dull green with age.... As a Christmas tree, white fir has good foliage color, a pleasing natural shape and aroma, and good needle retention."

7. Eastern White Pine

Branches from the White Pine are often used in garlands, wreaths, and centerpieces due to their long, feathery, soft needles. Though it is a beautiful tree, branches can be a bit too flexible to support heavier decorations. Its lush fullness also makes it difficult to squeeze in ornaments. The White Pine needles last a long time when properly watered.
More Info

8. Douglas Fir

A Douglas Fir is beautiful Christmas tree with soft shiny green needles. It may be difficult to decorate if the branches have been sheared into a perfect conical shape, leaving too little space between branches to hang decorations. If this variety of tree is available, you might want to take an unbreakable ornament with you when you buy a tree to see if you can put decorations on it. Choose a Douglas Fir that is freshly cut and keep it well watered.

9. Scotch Pine
You'll want to wear gloves when decorating a Scotch Pine, since its needles can be sharp as pins! Also, due to heavy shearing, there may be little space between branches for ornaments. The Nat'l Christmas Tree Association notes "the Scotch pine is known for its excellent needle retention and good keepability. It resists drying and if permitted to become dry does not drop its needles."
More Info

10. Norway Spruce

The Norway Spruce is a beautiful tree but does not hold its needles well, and should be purchased just just a week or so before December 25th. The National Christmas Tree Association notes that the "overall color of Norway spruce is fair to excellent, but needle retention is considered poor unless the trees are cut fresh and kept properly watered."
More Info


11-28-2007, 01:52 PM
Tree's here run between $20 and $50 for the most part. The more you pay the better, fuller, larger tree you get. Some people like small 3 footers while others that will fit under a normal ceiling will go close to 8 feet.

We usually get a pretty big tree and spend $45 or so on it. Sometimes you can find deals where a high school band or the boyscouts are selling decent trees for around $25.

They aren't really all that messy if you get one that isn't dry when you buy it. Give it a shake and if all kinds of needles don't come falling off you should be good. So long as you don't place it next to direct heat it will last into January inside. Any tree you bring in your house is going to have droppings. But they vacuum up easy and they don't stain anything.

Real trees smell really good too. They are a bit of a pain, getting them into their holders and through doors but it is part of the whole experience.

We are getting ready to go our tree. It won't come inside for another couple of weeks but if we wait all the good ones will be gone. If you get one early just leave it outside and it will be perfectly fine. That is all the folks who are trying to sell them are going to do with it. It doesn't need water or special care from some tree expert. They just hang out outside until you buy it anyway. I would just try to put it in somewhat full shade instead of direct sun if you do this.

Just keep the basins full of water when inside. Then it won't dry out if it wasn't dry to start with.

11-28-2007, 02:44 PM
A couple of other things to help out with a live tree...make sure you buy a tree stand that swivels like this one:
It makes it infinitely easier to straighten up your tree once you get it inside. Here's an example. (http://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Innovations-XTS3-Swivel-Straight/dp/B0008F78J8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=garden&qid=1196274511&sr=1-2)

Also spend a couple bucks on a big tree bag then put the tree and stand on top of it so that when you're ready to take the tree back outside you can just pull the sides of the bag up over the tree. That helps with the cleanup quite a bit. Like others said, shake it well before you bring it in and keep it watered; especially when you first get it.

We load up the kids and the dog and go cut our own at a Christmas tree farm too. The tree seems to last a lot longer than one you get pre-cut that's been waiting around who knows how long with no water. Plus it's good fun. :thumbup:

11-28-2007, 05:42 PM
If you do get one which has been pre-cut make sure you cut an inch or so off the bottom before you put it up as this will help the tree take in water. My understanding is that once it has been out of water for a bit the cut seal up and prevents the tree from taking on water as easily. The fresh cut will allow it to take water and will help it last longer.

11-28-2007, 06:19 PM
What kind of tree you can get depends on what part of the country you're in. Longer needles tend to stay on the tree pretty well, but not every region has lush, long needle Christmas trees in large numbers (easy to find in VA, not so much in Boston).

A few basic suggestions:

Make sure you've got a nice, wide base before you get your tree. You can still buy bases with that narrow, elevated red ring, but a lot of trees are too wide around the bottom for it.

Know how much clearance you've got. You should have enough room for the tree to sit in its base and still have room for a tree topper. Man Rule: The perfect tree takes all of that into account and leaves no more than 1" of clearance below the ceiling.

There's invariably a good tree place near where you live, ask some neighbors where they go.

Make sure to get a fresh cut on the base of the tree when you buy. You might also want them to prune a low branch or two (you need enough clearance to fit the tree into the base) and trim a bit off the top. The fresh cut is important to help the tree drink after you buy it.

Don't buy a tree that's all wrapped up and assume it will look all right. Take a good look at the tree you're going to buy.

Wear a sturdy pair of gloves when you pick up the tree. Go base first through doorways.

Don't buy your tree too early. I've known people who get swept up in the holiday hysteria and buy right after Thanksgiving. Sometimes they've got a tree shedding brown needles all over the place by the time Christmas rolls around. Give it at least another week before you get the tree.

Put some sugar (1/4 cup or so) in the water the first time you water the tree. Use hot water. Top off the water every day (you might have to do it twice a day at the start if you get a thirsty tree).

Wait a day before you decorate the tree just to see how the branches settle and to make sure you've properly anchored the tree.

11-28-2007, 06:24 PM
I have the exact base BuckWoody posted a picture of and it works like a champ. Had it for probably four or five years.

It comes with a jug that detaches so you can fill the water at the sink instead of having to pour the water into the base. It connects to the base and distributes the water as needed. It is spillproof which is nice.

George Anderson
11-29-2007, 11:02 AM
Pay special close attention to the lower part of the trunk when you pick one out. One year we picked a tree where the lower trunk was very crooked and it was a nightmare to get the tree to both look straight and sit in the stand evenly without falling over.

12-01-2007, 11:22 AM
I know this gardener who recommends spraying your tree off with a hose and some dish soap prior to bringing it in your home, he says most tree farms use a huge amount of chemicals, since the product isn't being consumed. Thus the tree can be covered in pesticides and be harmful to you , your kids or pets.

Spray it down and let it sit out and dry, before bringing in.

12-01-2007, 07:12 PM
Some of my fondest Christmas memories as a child was when we went out as a family and got the tree. I carried that same tradition with my kids. But they are now pretty much grown so we got a nice artificial one.

But I'd recommend, if there are any nearby, going to Christmas tree farms where you can pick out the tree and have it cut down. They'll live/stay fresher, a lot longer.