O Christmas Tree—Tips for bringing home the right tree for your family

How lovely are thy branches! Until they start turning brown and dropping needles, that is. This Christmas, avoid Griswold-like mishaps by heeding some tips from us and expert advice from Herridge’s Farm Fresh Market BEFORE you head out to find the ‘perfect’ holiday tree.

First, think about where your tree will live. Avoid placing it near a heat source (think sunny windows, radiators, heating vents, and fireplaces). Keep it out of high traffic areas where it might be overturned or where someone might trip on light cords.

Then, think about fit. Be sure to measure and record BOTH the ceiling height and the width of that space. Measure your tree stand to determine the maximum diameter of the trunk it will fit. Finally, measure the height of your tree stand as well as the height of your treetop decoration.

When you head out to the tree lot, take a tape measure so you don’t take home a 9-foot tall tree to your 8 feet high ceiling!

Which species to choose?

Herridge’s sells two main different categories of trees: firs and pines.

“We don’t carry as many Scotch or white pine as we used to; they’re more traditional but not as strong as firs for holding ornaments,” explains Hillary Penn, manager of Herridge’s, “but they smell beautiful and their needles are much softer on the hands than fir needles.”

If you’re more inclined to choose a fir, balsams are by far the best-smelling option, but Frasers are the strongest trees you can buy (and therefore the most expensive). Both types of fir are symmetrical and full—and great for packing with ornaments.

DID YOU KNOW? Balsams grow much faster than Frasers which is why they are less expensive. Experts say that balsams are the Honda Civic of trees (safe, reliable, can’t go wrong) whereas Frasers are more like a Mercedes Benz.

How can you tell if a tree is fresh? The needles should look shiny and green, not dry or brown, and they shouldn’t fall off when you pull on a branch. After you’ve decided and chosen The One, use heavy gloves to protect your hands and use an old blanket to protect your car from pine needles and sap. Take twine or rope to tie it securely to the car (unless you know the tree lot will provide this… Herridge’s does :)).

Make sure a fresh cut is made before placing the tree in water. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water so your tree can start drinking as soon as it gets home.

HERRIDGE’S SUGGESTS: Give your tree about a day to open up before you decorate. Chances are, it was cold—even frozen—and was probably tied up so it will be stiff. The tree “relaxes” as it warms up so it will be easier to decorate.

Place a plastic or waterproof covering on the floor where your tree will stand so you don’t ruin the carpet or get watermarks on hardwood flooring. To keep loose needles off your floor, try putting the tree in the stand outside.

Wherever you install it, you’ll need to tip the tree on its side and tighten the leveling clamps of the stand around the base of the trunk. Next, with help, lift the tree to a standing position, then make any needed adjustments in vertical alignment, so it stands straight. Finally, carry your tree (with the stand attached) to its new home and fill the water reservoir of the stand immediately. For the first few days, you may need to refill your tree’s water every few hours. Set a timer to remind you to check it. After about a week, water intake will slow down and daily refills should be fine.

HERRIDGE’S SUGGESTS: You can buy a tree solution that you mix with water in a specific ratio and add to the tree water (directions are always very clear on the bottle). Other people add sugar, crushed Advil or a bit of soda to the water.

When it’s up, assess. If your tree is too tall, clip away stray branches but avoid chopping off the tallest vertical branch. This is usually a stiff branch and will be a steady foundation for the tree top decoration.

If any of the lower branches look imperfect, trim them, but try to 
trim  at an angle that is about parallel to the floor, so cuts are less noticeable. Use extra boughs and branches to decorate your mantle or table, keeping them in water until you arrange them.

If you’re concerned about kids or pets knocking your tree over, be sure to secure it to a wall or a stable piece of furniture. Tie it securely in several places with fish line, twine, or cording attached to small eye hooks. Be sure that tie lines are out of reach.

When it’s all over, visit peelregion.ca to find out how to safely and responsibly dispose of your ‘perfect’ tree.

By Kristy Elik

Local Links

Sheridan Nurseries
Springbank Greenhouses
Mississauga Greenhouses

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