Family, Outdoors, Shopping

The search for the perfect Christmas tree

Sophal Nhim ties down a Christmas tree for a customer at Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton, Mass. in December 2016. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

Tips for picking the perfect tree from the National Christmas Tree Association


Measure your space

Be sure you know what size (height and width) you need before heading to the retail lot. Measure the ceiling height in the room where the tree will be displayed. The trees in the field look small when the sky is the ceiling. Don’t overbuy. Measure the width of the area of the room where the tree will be displayed. Most trees on tree farms are trimmed to an 80 percent taper. So, a tree that’s 10 feet tall will be 8 feet wide at the bottom. A tree that will fit in the room vertically might be entirely too big horizontally.

Think about what type of decorations you will be using

Some species have more open foliage, stiffer branches or longer needles.

Do a branch/needle test for freshness

Run a branch through your enclosed hand — the needles should not come off easily. Bend the outer branches — they should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry.

Look for other indicators of dryness or deterioration

Indicators might include: excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor, needle pliability and wrinkled bark. A good rule of-thumb: When in doubt about the freshness of a tree, select another one. If none of the trees on the lot looks fresh, go to another lot.

Safety first

Go to a retail lot that is well-lit and stores trees in a shaded area.

Ask questions about the trees at the lot

Ask the retailer when he/she gets the trees: are they delivered once, at the beginning of the season, or several shipments during the season? Often, a tree obtained soon after its arrival on the retail lot will be very fresh because it was cut recently. Also, ask the retailer which tree type performs best in your climate. Some types will last longer and remain fresher longer than others in different climates.

A family searches for the perfect Christmas tree at Chanticleer Christmas Tree Farm on Barker Road in Pittsfield, Mass. Berkshire Eagle File Photo
Dustin Manix, crew boss at Elysian Hills Tree Farm, in Dummerston, Vt., uses a bone saw to cut down a tree that he is bringing to the tree stand. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo
It takes the strength of four to pull a giant blue spruce through the netting machine at West Wind Tree Farm in Cheshire, Mass. in this December 2013 photo. Berkshire Eagle File Photo
Christmas trees at Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton, Mass. in December 2016. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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