A lush, green, beautifully decorated tree is one of the quintessential sights of the Christmas season. Whether you’re after a room-filling giant-of-the-forest or something a little more manageable, you’ll need to consider a number of things when choosing your Christmas tree.

Plan Ahead

Before you head out to make your purchase, decide where in your house you want to place your tree. When you’ve made this decision measure both the width of the space and the height of the ceiling. If you plan to use a tree-stand, measure the height of this as well as it will increase the height of the tree. Check, too, the maximum thickness of trunk that the stand can hold. Armed with these measurements it’s unlikely that you’ll come home with a tree that doesn’t fit.

How to Tell if a Christmas Tree is Fresh

You want your tree to look its best over those few days when you share the celebrations of the season with family and friends. To this end you might consider buying your tree a little later in the season. Regardless of when you buy your tree, though, the fresher it is, the more life you’ll get out of it.

A fresh tree will have needles which are shiny, green and flexible. A good test for freshness is to grip a branch with medium pressure and drag your hand along it. The needles should stay on the branch. Look at the heart of the tree (where the branches meet the trunk), not just the outside. If the needles here are brown or brittle the tree is not likely to last long.

What to Look For in a Christmas Tree

Your initial instinct may be to go for a tree with thick, full foliage, but you should remember that it will end up covered in decorations and that decorations often look better if they can hang straight. A tree with a little space between its branches may accommodate your decorations better and provide a more attractive end result.

Your tree should have a straight trunk and be balanced and of even proportions all round. This not only adds to its attractiveness but also makes it easier to position the tree vertically. If you are using a tree-stand you should ensure that there is sufficient cleared trunk at the bottom.

Where to Place Your Tree

Your Christmas tree prefers a cool moist environment, so avoid positioning yours near a heater, radiator or in strong direct sunlight as this will tend to dry it out and shorten its life. For safety’s sake keep the tree away from any open flame and from high traffic areas. Ensure that any lighting cords will not pose a trip hazard.

Position your tree as close to perfectly vertical as possible to avoid the possibility of tipping. If, after your best efforts, your tree is still unstable, secure it to a wall or a heavy piece of furniture with fishing line or string and eyehooks. On very soft or uneven floors, placing a square of plywood beneath the tree-stand can create a firmer base.

Looking After Your Tree

Before placing your Christmas tree in its tree-stand, cut an inch off the bottom of the trunk – this will allow the tree to absorb more water and keep it looking good longer. Once you have your tree set up, keep it well supplied with water – if your tree is fresh you will need to top up its water daily. Although there are water additives on the market purporting to extend the life of your tree plain tap water is all that is necessary.

By choosing a tree that has not been standing around the garden centre too long, and by then positioning it thoughtfully and watering it often, you should be able to enjoy this classic icon of Christmastime in its full beauty throughout the festive season.

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