Keys to Choose a Christmas Tree
Hike up a mountain, cross a field, visit a farm or pull into a pop-up stand to find your perfect tree. Just know your family’s preferences ahead of time and plan to create a stress-free family tradition.
1. Identify the size and shape that will fit through your door and in your home. The scale of a tree can be very misleading when it’s standing in a field or next to rows of other trees. Be sure to identify the maximum width and height to fit in your home.
2. Research the type of tree you prefer and be sure to pick a tree farm or market that stocks the variety you seek. We went to Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA, but we have dozens of tree farms to choose from here.
Douglas Firs are the most ubiquitous type, with full shapes and thin, full radius needles. Balsam Firs are known for their fragrant Christmas tree scent. Frasier Firs provide studier branches and gaps for displaying ornaments. Their shape can be more irregular and the underside can display a bluish tint. White and Blue Spruce tree are usually very dense with sharper needles which can make it difficult to place lights deep within the tree. Pines have longer needles and more delicate branches. They have great needle retention and are fast growers, which results in lower cost and wider availability. Playful Learning provides a great resource and a mnemonic device for identifying conifers. “Spruces are stiff and sharp; Firs and flexible and friendly.
3. Determine how you will transport the tree. Many farms and retailers will tie the tree to any vehicle roof. Some varieties will scratch the paint of your car. A roof rack offers the most flexibility but again, be careful of scratching and be sure the tree is secured for long drives and highway travel. The best option is to bring along a tarp and place the tree within the vehicle. Careful measuring and flexible interior seating — which the Traverse SUV that Chevy loaned us had — is important.
4. Cut–your-own, fresh cut, or live tree? Cut-your-own requires a little but more elbow grease, some upper body strength and a good, sharp blade. Be sure to bring work gloves and a saw, if not provided by the farm. You are limited to the type of trees grown in our region. Fresh-cut trees come pre-bound or open and displayed for inspection. Many outlets offer a wide variety ‑ research prices and variety before you go. Live trees’ root balls are contained in wire or burlap mesh and can be very heavy and are usually twice the price of cut trees. You can enjoy trees from Christmases past for years to come. Time indoors must be limited and a hole should be prepared before the ground freezes. You must have a vehicle large enough to transport these trees and the root ball usually ads 2-3’ to the tree’s height.
Chevy provided this Traverse and arranged our visit to Linvilla so we could provide feedback on their SUV, which accommodated a 10’8” Fraser Fir with three passengers and provided in-car wifi for the drive and a heated steering wheel for the ride home.