Foraging for and cutting your own Christmas tree is a fun, rewarding experience for the whole family. If you have little ones, this can quickly become a new tradition. We have a few tips and tricks for finding the perfect tree this year.
Before you go
Boots: Dress warm and watch your feet. Once you hit the outdoors, whether it’s the woods or a Christmas tree farm, the ground can be unpredictable. Dry weather doesn’t mean it won’t be wet and muddy in the field and tractor lanes become muddy from heavy use.
Gloves: Always a good idea as both branches and trunk can be prickly.
Large piece of cardboard or plastic: If you’re cutting the tree yourself, you’ll be down on the ground. This will help keep you dry.
Bungee or rope and an old blanket: If you’re going to tie the tree to your car, you’ll need an old blanket and rope. Call ahead to see if you need to bring a saw or if the tree farm has those on hand.
Do your research
All evergreen trees are beautiful however if you are envisioning a specific type of tree, note the following:
- Short needles: Junipers, spruces, cedars and firs.
- Stiff, medium length needles: Scotch pines
- Long, soft needles: White pine
- Long needles: Red pines
Take the time to find your perfect tree
Take your time and walk the field. Most trees are traditionally shaped as they’ve been pruned regularly, but if you’re looking for an irregular tree, look long enough and you’ll find one. Remember, even the perfect tree will look smaller in the field than it will in the house.
Cutting your tree
Cut low to the ground and straight across. Leave enough trunk to fit in the tree stand. You can always trim off the lower branches later. To keep the saw from binding, have someone pull the tree slightly way from the side you’re cutting. It will make the work much easier.
Carrying your tree out
If it’s muddy don’t drag it. Wait for a wagon or bring one with you. If the ground is frozen, dragging it a bit won’t hurt your tree.
Taking your tree home
Shake your tree to remove loose needles. If the tree farm has a baler, it will make it easier to fit your tree in the trunk or truck, as well as bringing it through the front door.
If you’re tying the tree to the top of your car, an old blanket will help cut down on scratches. You don’t want the branches to catch the wind so aim the butt end forward and tie it securely so it can’t move. If you have a luggage rack, tie it twice to each side. Another option is threading the rope through the car doors or windows.
Bringing your tree inside
If you can’t put your tree up right away, place it a bucket of water in a cool place. When you’re ready to place it in the tree stand, saw a thin slice off the base. If your tree was baled, leave it in the netting until it’s securely in the stand. Your tree will soak up a lot of water in the first few days, so keep watch. You want your tree to stay green and full through Christmas day.