Christmas Tree Selection Guide: How to Pick a Christmas Tree
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means the holiday festivities have begun. One of the most popular and fun traditions of the Christmas season is finding the perfect tree for your home. And some of the best memories come from decorating your tree with ornaments, ribbons, lights, and more.
Figuring out how to pick a Christmas tree can feel overwhelming, but knowing the different types of Christmas trees and their advantages should make your choice much easier. Our Christmas tree selection guide is here to help you narrow down which tree is right for you this season.
Artificial vs. Fresh Cut
The first step in learning how to pick a Christmas tree is deciding between a fresh cut or artificial tree. You can find quality artificial Christmas tree collections in all shapes, sizes, and colors, allowing you to pick the perfect one for your holiday decor.
Fresh cut trees can be purchased at Christmas tree farms or greenhouses in your area. Most farms will have a number of popular Christmas tree species, in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some locations even allow you to cut the tree down yourself, making for a fun holiday tradition.
Artificial Christmas Trees
- You can reuse artificial trees for years, saving time and money in the long run.
- They don’t require any care or maintenance like watering or vacuuming fallen needles.
- Most artificial trees are flame-retardant.
- They don’t trigger allergies.
- They don’t release the natural aroma of a living tree.
- They are not recyclable or biodegradable.
- Artificial trees are often not as full-looking as living trees.
Fresh Cut Christmas Trees
- They’re naturally fragrant and keep your house smelling like Christmas.
- Real trees are unique and show more character in their appearance.
- They’re environmentally friendly and can be recycled.
- They are usually more full and sturdy than artificial trees.
- They require light maintenance like watering and cleaning up fallen needles.
- Live trees tend to be more flammable if not watered regularly.
- They may harbor dust or create issues for people with allergies.
4 Types of Christmas Trees
Learning how to pick a Christmas tree requires you to know the unique characteristics of each kind. There are several types, but when it comes to traditional holiday trees, there are four main choices.
1. Fraser Fir
The Fraser fir tree is known for its durability. It presents deep green, flattened needles and keeps its pyramidal shape no matter how it is transported to your home. This evergreen tree is similar to the balsam fir, but their geographic ranges don’t usually overlap.
2. Douglas Fir
The Douglas fir is often considered the most popular Christmas tree species. It presents full, bushy branches that are a bright green color, a pyramidal shape, and has a definitive fragrance that leaves homes smelling like the holidays. The Douglas fir is known for its durable needles and strong branches that make hanging ornaments easy.
3. White Pine
The white pine is a hardy tree that presents long and slender needles that grow in bundles. It has an oval shape with blue-green color and its needles are soft and flexible. Besides being one of the most popular choices to use as a Christmas tree, it grows best in well-drained, moist soils.
4. Concolor Fir
The concolor fir is a stately tree that presents long, soft needles. It has a symmetrical pyramidal shape with a beautiful silvery-blue color. It’s known for its striking winter color and popular choice as a Christmas tree. It has long hanging branches that can be pruned or left to cover the bottom part of the tree.
How to Pick a Christmas Tree
If you decide on choosing a fresh cut tree, there are a few tips and tricks you can try out before making your final purchase. Once you’ve chosen which tree species you like the most, you want to ensure that your specific tree is fresh and worth the cost.
Test the Branches
By grabbing one of the tree’s branches, you can check the freshness of the tree. Put the branch between your thumb and finger, gently press down and pull the branch towards you. If the needles come off easily then chances are your tree is already past its prime.
Crush the Needles
Crushing the needles of the tree in your hand allows you to check the tree’s scent. One of the biggest advantages of a living tree is its fragrance. If the tree’s needles don’t smell fresh or have a strong fragrance, it may not be worth purchasing.
Bounce the Tree
Lifting the tree a few inches off the ground and dropping it lightly will show you if any exterior needles fall off. Interior needles falling is normal, but loose exterior needles is a bad sign when checking the freshness of your tree.
Check the Size of the Trunk
Make sure the size of your tree’s trunk will fit your tree stand. Bring measurements of your stand with you to double-check before you make a final decision, that way you won’t run into any unforeseen issues once you bring your tree home.
When choosing the perfect tree for your home, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions people tend to have.
What size Christmas tree to buy?
If you’re debating how tall your Christmas tree should be, you need to remember to take into account your ceiling height and whether you plan on using a tree topper or not. You should leave about 6-12” of space between the top of your tree or tree topper and the ceiling.
How long is a fresh cut Christmas tree good for?
A living Christmas tree can last up to 4-5 weeks if it’s properly cared for. That being said, make sure you’re taking the necessary steps to keep your tree healthy and fresh looking.
How do I care for a living Christmas tree?
Watering is one of the most important steps in keeping your Christmas tree fresh and healthy looking. A Christmas tree can absorb around a gallon of water within the first 24 hours. After that, a few quarts of water a day will be sufficient. Make sure to keep your tree stand filled with water and above the base of the tree trunk.
What do I do with my Christmas tree when the holiday is over?
Recycling your Christmas tree is one of the best ways to dispose of it after the holidays. Learning how and where to recycle your Christmas tree requires some research, but offers many different options from curbside pick-ups to drop offs to recycling it by yourself.