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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Live Christmas Tree Buying Tips

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

FIVE Tips for Buying Live Christmas Trees 

Fresh live Christmas trees usually go on sale in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex around the day after Thanksgiving. I was a little surprised and a lot excited to see live Fraser Fir trees for sale at the local Lowe's the Sunday BEFORE Thanksgiving. 

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Then on Friday, find your perfect live Christmas tree. 

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and I always get excited about all-things-Christmas, but nothing says it's Christmas like getting the tree. In November, I begin watching for signs of tree lots in all the usual spots around town. Watching for big tents to go up, for strands of bulbs strung from pole to pole, for stakes driven into the ground to support trees... My eyes light up, my face makes big smiles, I clap my hands, and I excitedly tell everyone in my family which spots have the prettiest and the biggest Christmas trees. 

As a diehard fan of real trees only for Christmas, I've spent a lifetime learning a few tips about buying fresh Christmas trees. 

Yes, they are messy. For me, the following pluses outweigh the minuses.
  • Artificial trees have become more life-like, but they still look and smell artificial. There is nothing as beautiful as a real tree. 
  • Real trees do not have to be stored. This is a big plus for me since my house has limited attic space, only over the entry and utility room. 
  • Cut live trees can be recycled, either as mulch chips around shrubs, or as composted wood to amend the soil, or as firewood, after drying, for next year's winter fires. 
  • Prices for real trees are much less than prices for the best artificial trees. True, artificial trees do not have to be replaced every year. The cost of a good artificial tree is about the same as the cost for live trees for ten years. Some years, you can buy a small real tree that brings the overall ten-year price lower for real trees. 


TIP #1: Buy your live tree early to take care of it. 

As soon as trees go on sale, go find your tree to buy. You don't have to put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but you should have it bought by Thanksgiving weekend. 

Take a look at that hard concrete surface those beautiful trees are standing on. The concrete reflects the Texas heat onto those trees, drying them out. 

Spraying water onto the trees helps a little to keep them fresh, but the tree trunks do not absorb much, if any, of the water sprayed on them. The trees definitely do not absorb any of the water puddled on the concrete. 

Buy your tree as early as possible, and get it home where you can take care of it. 
  • Immediately place it in a pail of water, and check the pail every day to make sure the tree has water. Spraying the entire foliage will help keep the tree fresh, but the tree absorbs water through its trunk. 
  • Keep it outside until you are ready to decorate it. The longer the tree stays outside, the longer the tree will last inside. Cool temperatures and high humidity outside are a tree's natural environment. Warm houses with low humidity dry out cut trees. 
  • Keep the tree in a shady area out of the direct sunlight. 

All of the trees available at your neighborhood tree lot are cut early and are shipped to your tree lot at the same time. 

You will not get a fresher tree 
by waiting until closer to Christmas to buy it. 

Just the opposite. The longer you wait to buy your tree, the more dry the trees on the lot are. 

Remember all those stacks and stacks of trees still bound in netting lying off to one side of the tree lot? Yes, those trees all arrived within a few days of one another. 


TIP #2: Buy your tree early to get the best selection.

Everyone has her/his own favorite style and variety of Christmas tree. Do you want a tall, slender tree or a short, full one? Do you like Fraser fir, Noble fir, Blue spruce, or a Scotch pine? 

You have the best chance to find your PERFECT 
tree the sooner you shop for a tree. 

Tree lots only get a specified number of each kind of tree and of each height of tree. Once the limited number of 9-foot Noble fir trees are sold, there will be no more this season. 


Tip #3: Buying early allows you to compare prices and available trees at more than one tree lot. 

Most lots in the same location sell the same varieties of Christmas trees since your location determines which kinds of trees do well in your area. However, prices can and do vary widely between different tree lots for the same variety of tree. 

If you wait too long, your favorite variety of Christmas tree may be available only at the high-priced lots. Shopping early gives you the freedom to look elsewhere without worrying your favorite tree style will not be available an hour later at the first place you looked. 


TIP #4: Ask your tree seller for any branches trimmed from trees sold earlier. 

Both Lowe's and Home Depot in my area give away the tree trimmings to anyone who asks for them. One nice thing about tree trimmings is you can get tree branches from several kinds of trees which makes your homemade wreaths, flower arrangements, and garlands nicer. 


TIP #5: Buy a 5-6 foot tree instead of a tabletop size tree. 

If you want a nice tabletop tree, cut the top out of a larger tree to create a tabletop size tree. Then use the lower branches to make wreaths, garlands, mantel decorations, or floral arrangements. 
  • Tabletop trees have gotten more expensive in the past 2-3 years, and now only cost a few dollars less than 5-6 foot trees. A small tree costs less than the combined costs of a tabletop tree and a wreath. 
  • Most small trees are fuller and have better shapes than tabletop trees. Not only do you save money, but you also get a prettier tree for your tabletop. 
View small trees with a critical eye for the top portion of the tree. Place your hand on the tree trunk at the desire height of a tabletop tree to visualize what just the top part of the tree looks like. Make sure there is a single main trunk, not multiple trunks that would not allow a tabletop tree. 

Now you know five tips for buying a live Christmas tree. I hope you can benefit from my experiences so it does not take you a lifetime to figure out tips for buying a live Christmas tree. 

With these tips you should find your perfect tree THIS year. 

🎄 🎄 🎄

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