It’s an iconic Christmas scene: a family driving home from the tree lot with a real Christmas tree tied to the top of their SUV. Artificial trees are practical, but nothing beat the scent of fresh greenery in the living room. Let’s pick the perfect tree for you and your family.
The real Christmas tree you bring home from a lot wasn’t grown in a forest, so you’re not depleting woodlands or harming the environment by using one in your home. Instead, your tree grew on one of America’s many Christmas tree farms, which grow millions of trees year-round. The average tree matures in seven years, and for every tree a farm cuts, as many as three seedlings are planted.
After the holidays are over, don’t throw your real Christmas tree out with the wrap, ribbons and boxes. Instead, recycle it. Many municipalities will haul your discarded tree away to convert it to mulch, and big-box stores such as Home Depot also offer this service.
Types of Trees and Their Features
The types of real Christmas trees available to you may vary depending on where you live. Here’s a short list of some of the most popular trees and their characteristics and benefits.
- Balsam Fir grows primarily in the states that border Canada. With its full pyramid shape, dark green color and wonderful scent, this tree’s branches make great cuttings for wreaths and evergreen garland. Balsam firs grow to six feet in height.
- Colorado Blue Spruce is known for its unique grayish-blue color. It is full, symmetrical, retains its needles well and grows to more than six feet in height. In addition to making a beautiful Christmas tree, the Colorado blue spruce can be a fantastic focal point for your yard. These beauties grow over a large swath of the United States, from the East to the West and the Canadian border to as far south as New Mexico.
- Douglas Fir accounts for half of the Christmas trees grown in the U.S. each year. Its needles are soft to the touch and have a subtle fragrance. Douglas firs grow from Oregon to Maine and as far south as Colorado, but they are shipped to tree vendors even in the deep South. They grow to just less than six feet tall.
- Fraser Fir, one of the top-selling trees in America, has long, soft-needled branches and a dark green color. It primarily grows in the eastern U.S. Fraser firs’ sturdy branches make them an excellent choice for displaying beautiful Christmas tree ornaments.
- Noble Fir grows across a middle swath of America. It has a bluish-green tint and grows the tallest of all the fir trees. Noble fir is often used to make garlands and swags.
- Scotch Pine is a basic tree sold widely. It grows from coast to coast and from Canada to New Mexico. The Scotch pine comes in a range of green colors and holds its needles well. With their stiff branches, Scotch pines are good Christmas trees for heavy decorations.
Care and Safety of a Real Christmas Tree
While selecting a real Christmas tree, give each of your potential choices a good shake before buying. The more needles the tree’s branches lose, the longer it has been since the tree was cut. Because a fresh cut makes a tree better able to absorb water, have the tree lot attendant trim about an inch from the bottom before you take it home and put it in your Christmas tree stand. Throughout the holiday season, check the stand’s water level daily and keep it filled so that the tree stays hydrated
The taller the tree, the more heavy-duty a stand you’ll need to keep it erect. Cover the stand with a tree skirt.
Avoid placing real Christmas trees too close to the fireplace, a stove or a heat vent, since this could prematurely dry it out, and never light candles near the tree. Take down the tree once it becomes dehydrated to avoid the risk of fire.