How to buy – and care for – the perfect Christmas tree in six easy steps

Kayleigh Bell guides you to find the perfect foliage for you baubles

christmas-tree
The real thing… Photograph © Jo Naylor on Flickr
Nothing can beat the smell of real Christmas tree and the daily ritual of pulling pine needles out of your foot. It’s what Christmas is all about!

Buying a real tree also helps support the local, rural economy. But choosing one can be a tricky business, especially when there are so many varieties of species and size. Make sure you bring home the perfect Christmas tree this year by following our foolproof advice.

1. Size matters

The first thing to consider is the space in home where the tree will be standing. Measure the height, width and depth of the area in which you would like your tree to stand.

The size of a tree when it is outdoors can be deceptive and buying the wrong size is a common mistake. Remember that a tree stand or pot can add up to 15cm of height so make sure to account for that too.

2. What type of tree do you want?

three-christmas-trees
The Fraser fir, Nordmann fir and Norway spruce
So it turns out ‘Christmas tree’ isn’t an actual type of tree! Who knew?!

There are in fact lots of types of Christmas-style trees on the market with their own respective attributes and characteristics. Three of the most common species are the Nordmann fir, Norway spruce and Fraser fir.

The Nordman fir has a traditional pyramid shape, dense foliage and excellent needle retention. The Norway Spruce is also the sought-after pyramid shape but tends to drop needles.

The price of the spruce is much lower than a fir, which could suit a lower budget.

Those with a smaller amount of room might prefer a Fraser fir, which is slimmer in shape, although dense in foliage, and heavily scented.

3. How much should you pay?

There is always a big mark up on seasonal products around Christmas so we have researched some guide prices to ensure you don’t pay over the odds.

The pricings are all based on a 6ft tree and based on average retail costs.

The Nordmann fir is about £40-£45, the Norway spruce is around £20 and the Fraser fir is the most expensive with a price tag in the region of £50.

4. Try before you buy

Before you hand over the cash for your tree there a couple of tests you can use to establish the level of freshness and health.

A well fertilised and freshly cut tree will last a lot longer in your home over the Christmas period. Firstly check that the foliage is dark green in colour, not pale or brown, and ask the seller when the tree was cut.

Next lift the tree and tap it firmly onto the ground. If lots of needles fall this indicates that the tree isn’t very fresh and will therefore have a shorter remaining life span.

5. Be careful where you put it

Make sure you choose a well-lit spot to display your tree that is also safely out of the way of children, dogs and clumsy adults!

Avoid standing your tree near a fireplace or radiator, as direct heat will cause it dry out as well as posing a potential fire hazard.

6. Take care of that tree

It’s crucial to care for your Christmas tree properly to ensure it lasts through until the New Year.

When you first bring it home be sure to cut a couple of inches from the bottom of its trunk. This will encourage it to drink more water and as a result stay fresher for longer.

Place the tree in a water-holding pot or stand; again this will aid its wellbeing. The real key, however, is to water your Christmas tree regularly- ideally 1-2 litres a day.

And after Christmas…

Once the festivities are over and the decorations come down it is important to dispose of your tree responsibly. If you cut up your Christmas tree and place it in your green bin then York Council will collect it as part of an extra January collection.

If the tree has roots you also have the option to plant the tree in your garden for use the following year.