"Christmas just isn't Christmas without
a real tree," said Ron Wolford. "You can't beat the smell of a real
tree, but before purchasing one, you might want to consider the
recommends measuring the height of the ceiling of the room in which
the tree will be placed and subtracting 1 foot to account for the
"This will give you the maximum
height to allow for your tree," he said. "Allow space for that
tree-topping ornament. Choose a tree that fits where it is to be
"For example, if the tree is
displayed in front of a large window, then all four sides should
look as good as possible. If the tree is to be displayed against a
wall, then a tree with three good sides would be OK. A tree with two
good sides will work well in a corner. The more perfect a tree, the
more costly it will be."
Trees sold from retail lots may have
been harvested in early November, he noted. He recommended that
consumers buy a tree early, before the best ones are sold.
"Fresh trees will have a healthy
green color with just a few brown needles," he said. "The needles
should be flexible and stay on the branch if you run it through your
hand. Raise the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the
butt end. Just a few needles should fall off. Some brown needles in
the inner part of the tree are normal."
Cutting down a tree at a local
Christmas tree farm, however, solves the freshness question, and
consumers will also have a larger selection of trees to choose from.
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in this article]
"Some farms allow you to tag or
reserve a tree during the summer, helping to avoid having to find
the perfect tree in bitter cold weather," he said. "Dress warmly for
your visit to the tree farm, wear comfortable shoes and don't forget
a tape measure. Bring a camera to take that family picture of
everyone around your newly cut tree."
Most farms, he noted, will supply a
saw and will bale the tree to make transporting it home much easier.
Before cutting down the tree, make sure that the base of the tree is
straight and at least 6 to 8 inches long, so it will fit into the
tree stand. Cover the tree with plastic or tarp to keep it from
drying out on the trip home.
"If you are not putting the tree up
right away, store it in an unheated garage or some other area out of
the wind and cold -- freezing -- temperatures," Wolford said. "Make
a fresh 1- to 2-inch cut on the butt end and place the tree in a
bucket of warm water. When you decide to bring the tree indoors,
make another fresh 1- to 2-inch cut and place the tree in a sturdy
stand that holds at least one gallon of water.
"A tree can use two quarts of water
per day. Be sure to check the water level daily and keep it above
the base of the tree. If the base dries out, resin will form over
the cut end and the tree will not be able to absorb water."
Wolford said more information about
Christmas trees is available at U of I Extension's Christmas Trees
and More website at
[University of Illinois news