Another year has flown by, and the holidays
are upon us again. Time to pull all your old decorations out of storage and
start hanging up lights and garlands. It’s also time to start stocking up on
candy canes, sugar cookies, hot cider, and eggnog. For many people, though,
it’s the Christmas tree that’s their favorite holiday tradition, and with good
reason. It provides the perfect centerpiece to your cozy holiday home, it gives
off a welcoming pine smell, and it’s a tradition the whole family can participate
in, regardless of their ages, as you decorate together.
the Right Tree
What we call “Christmas trees” are usually one
of several species of tree and are selected based on price and personal
preference. Douglas fir is one of the most common, making up half of the
Christmas trees sold in the United States. This tree is popular for its size,
as well as its thick and full needles and its fresh scent.
Other extremely popular tree varieties include
the noble fir, which is a popular variety due in particular to its sturdy
branches and small needles, which make it perfect for hanging ornaments. Other
popular species of tree include the red cedar, the Norway spruce, and the
Virginia pine, among others.
There are several ways you can acquire the
tree that you want: visit a tree lot, harvest your own in the wild, or even
grow your own Christmas trees throughout the year.
Your Own Tree
One option that you might consider is
harvesting your own Christmas tree from the forest. Of course, if you decide to
do this, make sure you check the regulations in your area to ensure that you
can do this legally.
Finding the right tree is a matter of knowing
where to look. You won’t want to head into an area that’s too densely forested,
because if your potential tree hasn’t received the proper amount of sunlight,
it won’t form that coveted symmetrical conical shape. Instead, search for a
tree in an open space, one that receives plenty of sunlight and allows
individual trees to thrive.
You’ll want to choose a tree that has plenty
of space between the branches. After all, you’ll be hanging ornaments there!
Find a tree that fits the space you have available. The average size of a
Christmas tree is usually around seven to nine feet in height. Make sure the
tree you select has fresh needles; if they are brown or falling off, the tree
you choose won’t last long.
Of course, if you’re so inclined, you can also
grow your own Christmas tree. To do so, you’ll need to select a sapling well in
advance, sometimes even years before you intend to use it in your home. It
takes about eight years for most pine species to grow into the perfect size for
a Christmas tree. Of course, provided you have the space, you can grow as many
trees as you would like. You can also have them planted at various stages of
growth, so you don’t necessarily need to start with saplings. If you’re
interested in growing your own Christmas trees on your property, you’ll need to
contact a tree service, such as Mr. Tree, to plant them for you
and ensure they’re growing in a healthy manner.
Whether you’ve decided to harvest your tree in
the wild or grow it yourself, you’ll need to know how to cut a Christmas tree
properly in order to maximize its life span and ensure that you can enjoy more
Christmas trees for years to come.
First, you’ll want to ensure you have the
right equipment for the job. Start with a heavy-duty pair of gloves so you can
protect your hands from the sap, needles, and sharp branches. It’s also a good
idea to bring a tape measure—to make sure your chosen tree is the right size
for the space you’re using—and a heavy tarp to wrap the tree up in. If you’re
transporting the tree with your vehicle, you’ll need some twine to tie the tree
down, as well.
When harvesting a live tree, you’ll need the
right saw to do so. There are saws specifically designed for cutting live
trees. The one you use should be cleaned and sanitized so as not to risk
infecting the tree when you cut. Cut low to the ground, but leave a little of
the stump so that the tree can re-sprout. In a few years, you’ll have a whole
new Christmas tree.
Very carefully, begin sawing through the trunk
of the tree. Soon enough, the tree will begin to lean towards the ground.
Holding the tree firmly with one hand, finish cutting with the other. You
should avoid allowing the tree to drop over on its own, which can create
splinters and otherwise damage the tree and shorten its life span.
There’s more to the art of how to cut a
Christmas tree than simply harvesting it: you’ll want the tree to last as long
as possible. When properly cared for, a healthy tree can last for weeks. You’ll
want to start with a fresh cut as soon as you get the tree home. The stump
where you initially cut the tree down will have dried already, and a fresh cut
allows it to absorb water quickly and effectively. Set the tree up in your
stand and try to ensure it’s as straight as possible. If the tree leans over,
it’ll struggle to soak up water.
If you need to adjust the height of the tree,
trim from the bottom, not the top. Cut more from the trunk as needed, little by
little, until you achieve the height you want. Cut away any dead branches and
add some water to the stand. Soon, you’ll be able to begin decorating your new