Picking Out a Real Christmas Tree

Now is the time to get that perfect Christmas tree so your family and friends have time to enjoy it.

Ron Hazelton has a number of helpful hints on choosing, transporting and preserving your real Christmas tree.

Choosing a cut tree: Find one that is the size and shape you want only shortly after its arrival at your local garden store or tree lot. Key signs of freshness are good color, needle retention, and fragrance. If the tree is fresh, you should be able to bend the needles around your fingers without breaking them. Though evergreens naturally shed some interior needles, a fresh tree keeps a firm grip on its outer needles.

To check needle retention, lightly grasp the outermost third of a branch and run your hand to the tip. Then, take the tree from its stand, raise it a few inches above the ground, and drop it to the ground onto its stump. The fewer needles that come loose or fall off the better.

Getting the tree home: The best way to transport a tree is in a space protected from wind. If you have van, that is ideal. The trunk of a car will suffice provided you bring blankets or a cover to protect the tree from wind. If you have to tie it to the top of the car, once again, protect the tree with a covering.

Setting it up at home: Cut the trunk at least one inch from the bottom before placing it in stand in order to open the veins and improve circulation. A fresh cut is crucial for water uptake and longevity. Keep the tree holder filled with water at all times while the tree is indoors. A good tree stand should have a large water reservoir. Without water, the tree will dry out and rapidly become a fire hazard.