The most basic criteria is applied by everyone: size. Some will want a small tree and others a larger one. Part of that decision is based on the space selected to house the tree at home. But keep in mind that a larger tree will be more difficult to transport without damage.
Much of the drying out, branch-breaking and other problems that happen to trees are the result of the way they’re taken home. High wind speeds from carrying the tree uncovered on the roof of the car or in the back of a pickup truck can dry out a tree to dangerous levels. It’s always much harder to re-moisturize a tree than to keep it fresh for the trip. Cover it well before driving.
One way to avoid that problem is to buy a tree online. Still unusual, this practice is growing. It’s estimated that over 300,000 homes bought a tree online last year. They arrive fresh if they’re transported by a reputable service.
But before you can get it home, you have to pick one out.
Species selection is the first step when you’re on the lot or at a tree farm, or even shopping online. Frasier fir and white pine have excellent needle retention. Scotch Pine is just as good. All smell great inside the home. Norway Spruce is lovely, but they’re less expensive because they tend to shed needles more readily, even if they’re well watered.
Scotch Pine has a beautiful bright green shade, while Douglas fir is more blue-green in appearance. White Pine has long, green needles that come in bunches of five. Spruce needles are shorter and the tree has a ‘bushier’ appearance. Only individual taste can guide you here.
To test whether the tree is fresh is simple if the tree isn’t wrapped. Just take the upper trunk and tap the tree gently on the ground. Judge how many needles fall down. A few is normal. But a substantial number of needles indicates a tree that is already dry.
Re-moisturizing it at home won’t usually help, since the tree is often too far gone at that stage. If you want something inexpensive that will only last a week or two, it might be worthwhile. Otherwise, keep looking.
Buying from a lot is less expensive and more convenient for most people. But a trip to the tree farm can net you a wider selection of fresh trees. It also makes for a delightful memory for the whole family. You can get a tree cut right at the time of purchase and kids will enjoy wandering around the forest.
Most people seek a tree that is even and full. But if you plan to put the tree into a corner, some flaws on one side might well be acceptable and provide a bargain. Those spaces can also be filled with larger ornaments to flesh them out. Here, only personal taste can rule.
When you’re ready to mount it, just slice an inch off the bottom and you’re ready to go.