With December right around the corner and only 26 days left till Christmas, this weekend garden centres up and down the country will be getting their Christmas tree deliveries in for the season. Whether you decorate your home at Christmas with an artificial tree or a real tree, millions of us get together as a familly to put the tree up at Christmas.
So if you're off out this winter weekend to buy yourself a Christmas tree, here is a quick guide to help you pick out that perfect festive tree.
Get your tree early...
Contary to popular beliefe if you're planning on buying a real Christmas tree from a garden centre then the trees you see on display the 1st of December will be the same trees as those in a couple of weeks. So the best thing to do is to get out there and pick the best looking tree to suit your home right away. Once it's back in your home there are several little tips to help you prolong the life of your tree which we will discuss below. So if you're worried about buying a tree on the 1st and it dieing come the 20th of December, then don't. Get out there and pick out your perfect Christmas tree as soon as possible.
The other option here would be to buy your tree directly from a Christmas tree farmer, that way you know your tree is as fresh as possible as these are only cut down as stock runs low. Unfortunately we are not all fortunate enough to live near a Christmas tree farm so a garden centre has to suffice.
Grown in the UK...
In the past most real Christmas trees were imported to the UK for sale which meant that they had been chopped down a considerable amount of time before they hit the shops here in the UK. Now a days many of the Christmas trees that are on sale in garden centres tend to have been grown here in the UK so you can expect a longer life span for your tree. It may be worth you while to ask a member of staff whether the trees they are selling have been grown here in the UK or not.
Styles of trees...
Norway Spruce, a full and elegant looking Christmas tree which was once imported here to the UK but now you will find that most garden centres are buying from farms which are growing this particular tree right here in the UK. Buying a tree which has been grown in the UK increases the life span of the tree, so if you pick a tree which is renowned for shedding its needles then it may be worth double checking to see where your tree was grown. On average you will be able to pick up a Norway Spruce for anywhere between £4.50 - £5.00 per foot. So if you are looking getting yourself a 7ft tree, you could pay somewhere around the £35 mark for it.
Nordmann Fir, is a lovely coloured tree with a silver shaded under colour on the branches. These trees tend to run a little bit more expensive that other trees, on average around about £7.50 - £8.50 per foot. However this particular tree does hold its needles a little more than its cousins. Prices on this tree tend to vary depending on the fullness of the tree.
Colorado Blue Spruce, another stunning looking Christmas tree which are gown here in the UK. This tree has an ever slight blueish tint the pine needles giving the tree a lovey colour shine. This particualr tree also carries the lovely sent of pine and will hold it for a little bit longer than other trees. The Colorado Blue Spruce will average around the same cost as the Nordmann Fir so roughly around £5.00 - £7.00 per foot.
Now there are other types of Christmas trees available on the market, so if you're in the garden centres this weekend and are a little unsure about which tree to get then it would certainly be worth your while asking a member of staff a few questions about the type of trees that are available and the differences between them.
Keeping your tree looking fresh...
Now your tree will have been chopped down and prepared for sale maybe just a few days ago, if you're getting one from a garden centre this weekend then the chances are the trees are very fresh so long as they were grown in the UK. If they were grown abroad then obviously the tree would have needed to be chopped down and transported to the UK several days ago to make it here in time for the 1st of December.
One thing you should do before buying your tree is to check its freshness. A simple test to test the freshness of a tree is to compare it weight. Pick up a tree and if it feels full or heavier then similar sized ones then the heavier one will probably have a little more moisture inside. This is key to making your tree last as long as possible this Christmas. Give the tree a little tap on the floor to see how the branches fall, if you notice any of branches looking brown or off coloured to the rest of the tree then it is probably not as fresh so take a look at another.
Another key tip is to never buy a tree that is already in a net. Make sure that you take the tree out of the net and have a look at its branches, weight, and how the tree sits when on a level surface. Sometimes trees can sit lob sided so it is important to remove the tree from the netting and have a look for yourself. Most garden centres should not mind you doing this. It's also a good idea to remove the tree from the net before buying to get a better look at the size of the tree, when it's wrapped up in a net the tree will look a lot smaller.
Make sure you look at the foot of the tree before buying. This is an important step as this is where your new tree will be sucking up water during the holiday season. The tree ovbiouslly have no roots, but that does not mean that if placed in some water the tree will not absorbe any moister. If you do not have the tools at home then ask a member of staf to cut an inch or so off the foot of the tree to expose some fresh bark, this give the tree more chance to absorbe as much water as possible. With a real tree we would advise using a tree stand which is both capable of holding water and is wide enough to get your hand in there to fill it up. Sometimes it can be a little tricky watering your tree, especially when those wonderful presents are bundled up beneath the branches.
Lastly, look at the fullness of the tree. Ideally you want a tree which has a good spread of branches from top to bottom. The last thing you want is a patchy tree or a balding tree. As mentioned before take it out of the netting if there is one, give it a tap on the floor to let the branches fall and asses the fullness of the tree by standing back and taking a good look at it.
Picking the right Christmas tree is an important day in the calender year. It can be a fun event with the whole family and an time to create those personal Christmas traditions that will be cherisssed at this time of year for years to come.