Tips when buying a natural Christmas tree

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Visiting a farm and cutting down your own tree can become a treasured Christmas tradition.
Monday November 19, 2012 1:41 PM

Many people harbor strong opinions with regard to which type of Christmas tree they want to purchase. Some cannot live without a natural, freshly-cut Christmas tree, while others prefer the convenience of artificial trees. Those who insist on a natural tree might want to consider the following tips when buying what's likely their biggest decorative item of the holiday season.

* Ask when the tree was cut down. Precut trees may be cut down weeks before they're sold. So if you're buying a precut tree, chances are the tree was cut down much earlier than you think. This doesn't mean the tree won't make it through the holiday season, but a tree that was cut several weeks ago should have some of its bottom trunk removed before it's placed in the stand. This will make it easier for the tree to consume water. This step likely isn't necessary if the tree was cut down the same day you bring it home.

* Have the tree shaken before taking it home. A tree should be shaken in a shaker before you put it in your car and bring it home. A shaker removes any debris or dead needles from the tree, which can save you the trouble of cleaning up all of those dead needles from your living room floor later on.

* Have the tree wrapped before taking it home. A tree should also be wrapped in twine before taking it home. The twine should be tight enough to keep the tree's branches from blowing in the wind when you attach the tree to the top of your vehicle. If possible, keep the tree wrapped in twine as you place it in the stand. This makes the tree easier to control.

* Choose the right location. When looking for the right place to set up your natural tree, it's best to choose a spot that's cool and free of drafts. The tree should not be placed near heat sources, including appliances, fireplaces or vents, because such heat sources create a safety hazard and can make it difficult for the tree to retain moisture. There should also be ample space between the top of the tree and the ceiling.

* Place some covering on the ground beneath the tree. Even a freshly cut natural tree will shed needles over the course of the holiday season. Before placing the stand in the location you've chosen, put some type of covering, such as a tree bag, beneath the stand so it's easier to gather all those needles once the holiday season has ended.

* Remember that natural trees are thirsty. Men and women who have never had a natural Christmas tree in the past might be surprised at just how thirsty natural trees get. The stand's reservoir should have lots of water, which should never dip below the stump. If the water dips below the stump, you might be forced to cut a little more off the bottom of the trunk to ensure the tree will make it through the holiday season. That can be a hassle once the tree has been decorated, so be sure to check the water in the reservoir at least once per day to maintain adequate water levels.

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