A Christmas tree guide
Are you looking for a Christmas tree that won't shed all of its needles, lose its wonderful pine scent and turn brown before the holidays are over? No problem -- having the perfect tree is easy if you know what to look for and how to care for it.
Choosing your tree
Start by finding a reputable tree farm or lot. This will improve your chances of getting a good quality tree. Look for lots that carry Canada's most popular variety of Christmas tree, the balsam fir. If you can't find a balsam fir, look for other top choices such as fraser fir, white spruce and scotch pine. These trees are all well known for being aromatic and with branches that retain their needles.
Before you buy a tree do a quick freshness test. Grab a branch and pull your hand toward you. If the tree is fresh, only five to ten needles should fall off. If you grab a handful of needles, consider looking for another tree.
If you aren't ready to decorate your tree when you get home, store it in a sheltered area where it will be cool and dry. Cut about two centimeters off the bottom of the trunk and put it in a bucket of water to provide moisture. When you're ready to bring it inside, make a fresh cut in the trunk and put it in a stand filled with at least four liters of water.
The Canadian Christmas Tree Growers Association recommends using tree stands that can hold six litres of water or more. Check the water level every day -- constant watering will mean your tree will keep its scent, colour and needles.
Recycling your tree
Instead of just throwing your tree out after the holidays, why not put it to some use? In some cities, non-profit groups gather trees for recycling. Or you can put it in the backyard with some suet for a bird shelter. Some municipalities also accept trees and use them for mulching.
Image courtesy of Pottery Barn