Picking the Perfect Fresh-Cut Christmas Tree
Make your annual Christmas tree hunt more productive and more satisfying by following these simple steps, which will guide you to the right tree.
Step 1. Artificial or Fresh-Cut?
When picking a Christmas tree, remember that you have the option to buy an artificial tree if you don't take a liking to any fresh-cut tree. Before you decide if you're going to buy an artificial or fresh-cut tree, ask yourself some questions to determine which kind of tree is right for you.
- Do you prefer a pre-lit tree or one you can light yourself?
- If you get a fresh-cut Christmas tree, will you water it every day?
- Do you want to place your tree next to a fireplace, near a furnace or in the kitchen?
An artificial Christmas tree is right for you if you want a tree that is both easy to set up and can be placed anywhere in the house without resulting in a fire. Even though artificial trees don't retain the rich smell of fresh-cut trees, high quality artificial trees can last up to 10 years or more, offering more years of use and enjoyment than fresh-cut trees. If you prefer to purchase an artificial tree, Menards® offers a large selection of Christmas trees in numerous styles, heights and colors. However, if you don't mind giving a fresh-cut tree a little extra care and attention, a fresh-cut Christmas tree is right for you.
Step 2. Pick and Measure Display Location
Before you choose and buy a fresh-cut Christmas tree, you must first decide where you are going to display it in your home. Avoid placing the tree in spots near TVs, fireplaces and radiators; these "hot" spots will cause the tree to dehydrate quickly, resulting in rapid discoloration and wilting branches. Once you've decided where you're going to display your tree, measure the height from the ceiling to the ground with a tape measure (243-3507). Deduct one foot from this measurement so the combined total measurement of your tree, tree stand (287-3112, 3125) and decorative topper won't exceed your ceiling height. Also, measure the opening of your tree stand. The trunk of your tree must be smaller than the stand's opening so the tree will stand straight for the whole holiday season.
Step 3. Choose a Type of Tree
Now comes the time to look for your tree, but first, which variety is right for you? Although there are several readily available species of trees that make great Christmas trees, find one that will fit both your display location and your aesthetic taste. Here are four common varieties of trees to consider when choosing your tree.
Known for its beauty and stiff branches, the noble fir is an excellent Christmas tree. This species of tree is far different from other types of Christmas trees due to its distinctive deep green coloration and upward facing branches. If you like to decorate your tree with a lot of heavy ornaments and lights, the noble fir is the Christmas tree for you. This tree is one of the better Christmas trees for decorating because its branches are stiff and widely spaced.
The Fraser fir is a popular species of Christmas tree because of its wonderful fragrance, needle retention, vibrant blue-green color and uniform shape. This tree species also has an excellent Christmas tree shape due to its slightly upturned branches and pyramid-shaped frame. Therefore, Fraser fir trees are ideal for hanging multiple decorations, including heavy ornaments and multiple light strands.
The Scotch pine is the most commonly used Christmas tree species in the United States. Not only does this tree have a pleasant aroma and a bright green color, but it also has excellent needle retention; even if the tree is severely dehydrated, its needles won't drop, wilt or discolor. Consider purchasing a Scotch pine if you prefer to decorate your Christmas tree with minimal decorations. Although this tree is tough enough to support a few heavy ornaments, there is not enough room in between the layers of branches to decorate the entire tree.
The white pine is the largest species of pine tree in the United States. Unlike most Christmas tree species, the white pine has blue-green branches which contain long, feathery and pliable needles. Due to its slender limbs and fuller figure, the white pine cannot support a lot of decorations. However, this tree has no aroma, making it a great Christmas tree choice for people with allergies.
Step 4. Check the Freshness
Once you've decided which type of Christmas tree species is right for you, you're ready to find your perfect tree. However, you cannot simply pick a tree and bring it home without measuring it or checking how fresh it is. If the tree meets your measurement requirements, evaluate its freshness with either a drop test or a freshness test.
To perform a drop test, all you have to do is lift your prospective tree a couple inches off the ground and drop it on its trunk. If the tree drops only brown needles, it is fresh and perfect for purchase. On the other hand, don't purchase the tree if it loses more green needles than brown needles; not only is the tree severely dried out, but there is a good chance that it won't survive the Christmas season.
To perform a freshness test, all you have to do is inspect the branches and needles of your prospective tree. Gently grasp one of the branches and pull it toward you. Release the branch and look to see how many needles come off in your hand; if the tree is healthy, very few needles should detach. Then, break off some healthy green needles. Make sure these needles are moist and fragrant by touching them and smelling them. If your tree fails any portion of this test, move on and look at other potential trees.
Step 5. Ready Your Tree for Indoors
After you've found the perfect Christmas tree, examine the branches for any insects or insect eggs. To rid the tree of any loose needles and unwelcome insects, simply bounce your tree up and down a few times. Once your tree is free of pests, ask the attendant to bind it with a tree baler. Tree baling is avaliable at all Menards® store locations when you purchase a fresh-cut Christmas tree. This step is very important because it protects your tree from injury with netting while it condenses the shape of your tree for easy transportation. Then, to truly prepare your tree for your home, you must trim 1/2 - 1 inch off the bottom of the trunk with a handsaw (248-1905); this allows the tree the ability to freely access water throughout the entire holiday season so it will retain vibrancy and last longer.