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.
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.