‘Tis the season for decorations and delights, just so long as you choose… right?
Okay, that was a little awkward: rhyming is not our forte. Trees, however, are definitely in our wheelhouse! This year, if you’ve decided to eschew the plastic tree that you’ve had stuffed in the basement these last few seasons, we’ve got you covered on the whys and wherefores of a real Christmas tree.
Types Of Christmas Trees
There are a couple of species of tree that make the best holiday decor for any home or office, each with their own merits.
- Fraser fir — Well watered, a Fraser fir can last up to eight weeks in your home and has that most distinctive of Christmas-sy scents. The silvery tint to their needles and less dense branches are the perfect complement to your ornaments.
- Balsam fir — These very popular trees will typically last six to seven weeks and have good fullness, needle retention and that classic pine scent that screams: “Pass the eggnog!” Their more slender look with dark green needles make these the perfect tree for smaller spaces.
- Scotch pine — With needles that vary from bright green to blue/green, these bushy trees have strong branches and excellent needle retention, which is important if you have heavy or simply many ornaments AND hate vacuuming the needles!
- White spruce — The full, dark green branches are just part of the appeal. These trees are some of the most symmetrical, with very consistent shape all around. These are great trees if you are using them as a central decoration in a room, rather than placing it in a corner, as it will look beautiful from every angle. The downside? Their needles are VERY prickly, which can be unpleasant for wee ones, when decorating!
Before Buying A Tree
Measure your ceiling height, taking into account the tree stand AND any top of tree ornaments, like a star. You don’t want to end up with a National Lampoon Christmas tree, bending at the top!
Also, take a look at the area where you plan to place the tree: you need enough width, as well as height, and if you are getting a tall tree, you might want to consider whether you will be able to anchor it to the wall, for safety. In addition, you want to make sure to place it far from heat sources, which can be a fire hazard. If you are using lights, make sure there is an easily accessible plug or switch on a power bar so that you can be sure to turn off the lights when you aren’t home and before you go to bed. Again, this is in case of a short or overheating.
Don’t forget to dig out your tree stand and make sure all the parts are in good working order or your decorated tree could topple like Uncle Art after a couple of hot toddies!
What To Look For In Your Tree
Whether you are buying your tree at a garden centre, a tree lot or going to a farm to cut your own, there are a couple of things you should look for when selecting your tree:
- Check for broken branches, bare spots and dead branches to assess the health of the tree and how well it survived transportation (if you’re not at the farm yourself).
- Look for a fairly even colouring of the needles. Dull or brown / rusty needles may speak to the freshness of the tree.
- Check for pests and insects: you don’t want to be bringing these into your home!
- Run your hands over the needles by grasping a branch about six inches in and pulling forward gently: the needles should stay put and be flexible. A few may drop off but if a lot of the needles are dry and come off in your hand, the tree might not be fresh.
- Check the branches to see that they are strong enough to hold up ornaments and lights and flexible, which is another sign of a fresh tree.
Setting Up Your Tree
First, cut about an 1-1.5” off the bottom of the stump: the fresh cut will allow your tree to soak up water more easily.
Second, place a plastic tree bag or garbage bag IN the water compartment of your stand and lay it open—don’t worry, you can cover it with a tree skirt so no one has to see the bag, but it will make disposal at the end of the holidays a little easier, with a lot less needle dropping on the carpet. It can also help to prevent water spills soaking up into your carpet or staining your hardwood, in case the stand gets overfilled a little.
Third, leave your tree in the tree stand a full 24 hours before decorating it. Some of the branches will fall naturally as the tree acclimates to the room temperature, so premature decorating can end up looking a whole lot different a day later! Don’t forget to water it! A tree will go through a lot of water, particularly in the first day it is in your home, so make sure you keep an eye on the water line in your stand.
Disposing Of Your Tree
Sadly, the holidays WILL come to an end and it will be time to dispose of your tree. Most areas across the GTA have curbside pick up service in January so check your local recycling schedule and see when yours is. Too often, we’ll see trees with sad bits of tinsel on them, stuck in a snow bank in February.
When it’s time to move the tree, make sure someone is holding by the trunk, towards the top, while someone else undoes the tree stand clamps or retention mechanism. Then pull up the bag that we mentioned earlier, up and around the tree, so you can move it out the front door with a minimum of needles dropping everywhere. Remove the bag and keep it for next year, as most recycling trucks will not pick up a tree that is in plastic.
If you miss the collection dates, you can hold onto your tree and put it out with the yard waste in the Spring, in lengths of about four feet.
Now that you’re ready to bring home your tree, armed with all the information you need, we at Toemar want to remind you that with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s important to take a step back, smell the Christmas tree, and enjoy the moment. Have safe and happy holidays!