While artificial Christmas trees possess a certain convenience, many people like to have the crisp fragrance and ambiance of a fresh Christmas tree in their homes at Christmas time. Selecting the right type of fresh tree is important because Christmas trees are often a focal point for many family activities and traditions. Given the many types of natural Christmas trees available it's important to consider how the tree will be used and qualities the tree should have so that it will be suitable for your need and also last through the season.
Real Christmas trees can often be bought from retail chain stores but the best place to get a real and fresh tree is likely to be from a Christmas tree farm. Buying a tree from a farm is the best option because a farm will be more likely to offer more species of trees and therefore a wider variety of shapes and sizes. Another reason is that after you've made your selection you will observe the tree being cut and can take steps to preserve its freshness.
Christmas trees, like other trees, have different shapes and qualities. The most favorite Christmas trees basically have a pyramid or cone shape that make them more popular than others. These include the Douglas, Fraser, Noble and Balsam firs, and the Scotch, Virginia and white pine trees. These evergreen trees all have one or more excellent features related to shape, color or sheen and fragrance, which makes them favorites to be used for Christmas trees and consequently are bestsellers.
A pyramid-shaped Christmas tree is most likely to be taller and has somewhat of a more elegant look. The Douglas fir, which ranks high up among Christmas tree favorites, is an example of a pyramid-shaped tree. Other examples of pyramid-shaped trees are Fraser, Balsam and Noble firs.
A cone-shaped Christmas tree tends to be shorter with dense branches, which makes them excellent for holding many ornaments and other decorations. The Virginia Pine, the Scotch Pine, Norway Spruce and the Eastern White Pine all have cone shapes. While not as elegantly shaped as their fir relatives, their characteristics are decidedly utilitarian. Families that have a strong tradition of making their own ornaments, or putting lots of mementos on their trees would want to consider selecting a cone-shaped tree.
Another feature that makes Christmas trees appealing is their color. At first glance all Christmas trees have a green appearance, but a closer look at their needles will reveal differences such as a bright or dark-green, blue-green or yellowish-green hue. The needles may also emit a silvery sheen with the right lighting. Fraser and Noble firs both have needles with a silvery sheen. You will find the branches of Fraser and Noble fir trees used for garlands and wreaths.
Most people choose a fresh Christmas tree for its fragrance, which can be fairly strong or just subtle, giving off just enough of a whiff of scent. Douglas fir, which is one of the most popular trees used in homes and public places, is a very fragrant tree. The Balsam fir is also fairly fragrant. If you like the ambiance of a fresh Christmas tree but consider the scent of pine indoors a bit overpowering, the Eastern White Pine may be your best selection since this tree doesn't have much fragrance.
If getting your tree from a Christmas tree farm is not an option for you, look carefully as you select from pre-cut trees. For those trees that are located on retail or other commercial lots, freshness can be determined by looking at the conditions in which the trees are kept. Observe whether the trees are kept in stands that hold water, if the trees are protected from the wind and sun, and if baled trees are tied down correctly.
To determine the freshness of a tree, observe whether it looks green and healthy, has a fragrant scent and has needles that are moist and flexible. If the needles appear dry or show browning, then that is a sign the tree will be a poor selection. If a large amount of green needles fall when branches of the tree are shaken, that's also a sign that the tree isn't the best one to buy to last for the entire season. The needles of the trees should break crisply when they are bent. If a tree needle is bent and doesn't break readily with pressure, it might mean that the tree isn't absorbing water and that will affect its longevity.
Whether you buy from a Christmas tree farm or from a retailer's lot a critical quality to consider in selecting the right tree is its size. Before buying a tree, it's important to decide where it will be placed in your home so that the space can be measured. You will need to do a floor to ceiling measurement and then subtract at least 10-12 inches to get the maximum height of the Christmas tree you are to select. It is recommended that at least 10-12 inches of space should be between the top of the Christmas tree and the ceiling. This height issue works both ways. If you have a high ceiling a very short tree may be dwarfed by other furniture in the room. It's therefore very important to carefully consider and select a tree that has a suitable height for the area where you plan to position your tree. Don't forget to measure for the width of the tree as well.
In conclusion, along with freshness and size, a tree should be selected based on the shape that you like, the smell of the needles and bark and on how dense and sturdy the branches need to be. For the density and sturdiness of the tree you select, you need to have an idea how the tree will be decorated - how many heavy ornaments, Christmas lights or bows will be used. For example, a cone-shaped pine tree that has sturdy branches will be better for holding heavy ornaments and a pyramid-shaped fir tree is good for trees that have light-weight decorations such as bows and a string of Christmas lights.
Whether you have a favorite type of Christmas tree that you select every time or if you just select a different one based on appearance and or fragrance, there are many choices to satisfy your desire to have a natural well-decorated tree in your home for Christmas.