Whether you cut down your own tree at a Christmas tree farm or visit one of the many tree lots popping up during the holidays, selecting

and bringing home a Christmas tree is one of the highlights of the season. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about how to select and care for a cut Christmas tree.

    Christmas Tree Selection

    What kind of tree should I get?

    The type of tree you choose is really a matter of personal preference. Some prefer the stiffer branches of firs for hanging heavier ornaments, others like the soft openness of pines or the interesting colors of spruce. Christmas trees vary widely in shape, texture, and cost, although the decision is too personal to call one of them superior to another.

    Douglas Fir

    Different tree species have different characteristics, and the method of growing and pruning will also affect the overall appearance. Be sure to ask the grower about the care and harvest of their particular trees, to make sure you’re getting a healthy tree that will last all season.

    How do I select a healthy tree?

    Look for a tree whose branches are upright and perky. The color should be green and glossy, with few to no brown needles. Grasp a branch and bend it a little, then gently pull it through your hand – look for flexible branches that don’t leave your hand full of needles. Gently shake the tree by its trunk and see what falls.

    Check for strong needles.

    A few brown needles will fall out naturally, but you shouldn’t see many green needles on the ground.

    How big should my tree be?

    That depends on the space and ceiling height available as well as your personal preference. When you’re out in the open field or at the tree lot, the trees will seem small – many a family has chosen the perfect tree and taken it home, only to discover that it won’t fit in the house!

    Branches should be flexible.

    Before choosing your tree, be sure to measure the spot in your room carefully to determine how tall and wide it can be, then measure your tree before buying it. Don’t plan on trimming or shearing a tree – instead buy one the right size and shape.

    How long will my tree last?

    A freshly cut tree, kept well supplied with water, will last about a month. If you’re buying a precut tree, be sure to ask when it was harvested. All Christmas trees will begin to lose needles as they dry out. Fir, spruce, and cypress generally keep their needles longer than pines.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Danny Lipford

    Danny Lipford


    Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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