Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree

Family Tradition and Picking a Christmas Tree

A long standing holiday tradition in my family is getting the Christmas tree. We like to go to our favorite tree farm and cut our own, but if you live in a warmer climate then the local tree lot may be your best bet. Or, you can get an artificial tree that can be reused for many Christmases to come and save a lot of trees from being cut while also making it easier and simpler to get ready for the holidays each year.

Whichever method you prefer, finding the right tree for your home is always a fun and sharing family experience, so we’ve put together some useful information on the many varieties of natural and artificial trees to help you find that perfect Christmas tree!

Cutting the Christmas tree remains a favorite holiday tradition in many families.

Pick Your Own Christmas Tree

“The experience kids get from the holiday tradition of going out to the tree farm to cut your own Christmas tree is really special” says Jon Schatz, owner of the Sunny Day Christmas Tree Farm in Sherwood, Oregon. “Spending an afternoon with the family to select and cut the tree is something kids remember for a lifetime.”

A few things Schatz suggests you consider when going to a U-Cut tree farm include:

  • Think ahead of time about what type and size tree you need
  • Look for a tree with a straight trunk and balanced shape
  • Do realize that no tree is perfectly straight and that at least one side will go against a wall anyway
  • Be sure the trunk of your Christmas tree is long enough and the right size in diameter for the type of tree stand you plan to use

Some farms measure and price each tree, while most farms sell Christmas trees priced by the foot. Schatz has a unique pricing approach at the Sunny Day Tree Farm; “all our trees are $20,” he says. While customers must go out on the farm and select, cut and load their own trees, its all part of the family tradition. “We keep our costs low so that we can make cutting your own Christmas tree both fun and affordable.”

Finding a Perfect Natural Tree

Arizona Cypress – a steeple shaped tree, pale-green to gray-green color. The leaves are tiny and plentiful and lay close to the branchlet surface in a scale like arrangement and about 0.1 inches long. Bark is thin and delicate with a reddish brown color. The cones are spherical in shape and woody. The Arizona cypress has a pleasing aroma.

Balsam Fir – a medium-sized tree, it exhibits a relatively dense, dark-green, pyramidal crown with a slender spire-like tip. It has a dark-green appearance, long-lasting needles, attractive form, and pleasing fragrance.

Colorado Blue Spruce – finding increasing popularity as a Christmas tree, with a symmetrical form and attractive blue foliage. It has an excellent natural shape, requires little shearing, and needle retention is among the best for the spruces. Its popularity as an ornamental also makes blue spruce a good choice to plant as a living Christmas tree after the holiday season.

Canaan Fir – a relative new species in the Christmas tree market, it is similar to the Fraser and balsam firs in growth and appearance.

Concolor Fir (White Fir) – produces a spire-like crown with a straight trunk. Needles are small and narrow in rows, usually 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch long, pointed or notched at the tip, bluish-green. The wood of white fir is light, soft and coarse-grained, but lacks distinctive scent or odor.

Douglas Fir – not related to the true firs, the Douglas fir is one of the most popular Christmas tree varieties, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Needles are dark green or blue green, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, soft to the touch and radiating out from the branch in all directions. They have a sweet fragrance when crushed.

Eastern Redcedar – has compact branches forming a pyramidal crown and reddish brown bark, leaves are arranged in opposing pairs along branchlets with a dark, shiny natural green color. Eastern Redcedar is usually available to choose and cut at tree farms only.

Eastern White Pine – the state tree of Maine and Michigan, it is considered the largest growing pine species in North America. The needles are soft and flexible, generally bluish-green to silver green in color, arranged in bundles of five.

Fraser Fir – a uniformly pyramid-shaped tree, the boughs were often used for pine pillows and bed stuffing and this fir grows naturally at elevations above 4,500 feet in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Grand Fir – one of the tallest growing fir species, it is distinguished from other Pacific Northwest firs by sprays of lustrous needles in two distinct rows and needles 1 to 1 1/2 inches long with glossy dark green tops and known for its strong fragrance. Native Americans used this fir to make headdresses, decorative clothing, tea and many other uses.

Leyland Cypress – has become a valued landscape plant and one of the most sought after Christmas trees in the southeastern states. Foliage tends to be arranged in irregularly flat planes with a dark green to gray color, the shoots branch repeatedly in a mahogany color except at the tips. The trees have little aroma. These trees are usually available at choose and cut tree farms only.

Noble Fir – considered an excellent Christmas tree because of its beauty, stiff branches and because it remains green long after being cut, Noble Fir continues to grow in popularity and comprises 25% and 30% of the fresh tree market in the Pacific Northwest. It is also commonly used to make wreaths, door swags, garland, etc.

Norway Spruce – Most common in Northern Europe and transplanted in North America, the Norway Spruce has dark green needles and drooping branchlets, and a dark green crown with a triangular shape. Leaves (needles) are 4-sided (rectangular in section), is excellent, but needle retention may be poor unless the tree is cut fresh and properly watered.

Scotch Pine – widely planted for the purpose of producing Christmas trees, it is a hardy species easily adapted to many soil and climate types and is known for its dark green foliage and stiff branches, well suited for Christmas ornaments and excellent needle retention characteristics.

Virginia Pine – a staple of the Christmas tree industry in the South East, branches are stout and woody with dense foliage. Virginia pine can be commonly found at tree farms or retail lots.

White Spruce – has a nice cone-shaped crown that extends nearly to the ground, making it a great ornamental variety. Needles are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, with blunt tips and green to bluish-green. With its light grayish-brown bark, excellent foliage color, short stiff needles, natural shape and good needle retention, the White Spruce makes a very good Christmas tree.

Finding a Perfect Artificial Tree

Traditional Unlit – often very realistic in appearance and with built in tree stands, unlit trees offer you the ability to choose the style and color of your lights or even change the lights to give your tree a different look each holiday season. And just think; no needle loss or watering to worry about! Many people are converting to the artificial tree these days with environmental issues and convenience in mind. Lower quality, inexpensive trees often use thinly shredded strips of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) resembling a bottle brush tightly twisted between two tightly twisted wires to form the branches.

Realistic – with branches created out of molded plastic, higher quality artificial trees use molded branches and needles made from Polyethylene (PE). Branches cut from a real tree are often used to create molds, giving the tree a more realistic appearance.

Prelit – the most convenient tree available, some models can have hundreds of lights, carefully arranged for that perfect look when unfolded. At the end of the holiday season, just fold the branches carefully and store it away in the shipping box.

Specialty – available in many shapes, sizes and colors, you can find a specialty tree for almost any purpose or location in your home, whether you want a large tree for the family or living room, a table top tree or topiary-shaped tree.

Flocked – white is the traditional color for Christmas tree flocking, but you can also find pink, red, gold and many other colors. Flocked artificial trees are also available unlit or prelit and in a variety of types and sizes.

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