Celebrating the Seasons

In Search of the Perfect Pine

Even if visiting a tree farm isn't on your calendar this holiday season you can take steps to ensure that the tree you purchase at the lot is the freshest it can be. There's nothing worse than spending time and money looking for the ideal precut holiday tree only to discover when you get home that it doesn't stand quite straight, it's not really as fresh as you thought (your lovely carpet becomes covered with needles), or it's too tall for the room! Keep these tips in mind when you head out in search of the perfect pine.

Before leaving home:

  • How tall is the ceiling where the tree is going to stand?
  • How much horizontal space is available for the tree?
  • How wide is the trunk opening in your tree stand? Better yet, take the tree stand with you to make sure the tree fits.

Signs of freshness for cut trees:

  • Grasp the mid-section of a branch and gently pull toward the end of the branch letting the needles slip between your fingers. If a lot of needles fall off, the tree is too dry.
  • Bend a branch — it should be pliable and soft. If it is hard, brittle, or breaks the tree is too dry.
  • Grasp the tree by the trunk and bounce it on the ground. Some needle drop is natural, but if a large number of needles fall off the tree it is too dry.
  • Look at the cut end of the trunk. Does the sap still feel tacky? If it's hard and crusty, look for another tree.
  • Many lots hang their trees, making it hard to see how straight the tree will stand. Take the tree down and stand it up to make sure it doesn't have a crooked trunk.


Once you get your fresh tree home, saw a half inch off the cut end of the trunk and place the tree in a large container filled with warm water. Let the tree soak in the water for 24 hours. The heat will soften the sap and allow the tree to take up water. Don't be surprised if you have to replenish the water, as the tree should absorb a gallon of water or more. Make sure to keep water in your tree stand at all times.

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