Here are three reasons to buy a real Christmas Tree (video)
Written and Contributed by TRACY CLELAND
First: Plan Ahead
1. Check out the Christmas tree farm ahead of time.
The Christmas tree is the central decoration in many homes this time of year. Although the real vs. artificial debate reigns supreme each year, I admit to being a fan of the real tree–I’ve never had or wanted anything else. A real tree, if cut fresh and kept watered, will last the entire season, filling your home with a wonderful aroma. Visiting a Christmas tree farm is a fun activity for family members of all ages. With 30+ years experience working on family-owned tree farm, I’d love to give you some tips for visiting a Christmas tree farm.
2. Know the farm’s hours.
Most farms open the weekend before or weekend after Thanksgiving. Many farms are only open until 5:00 p.m., and people often wonder why. The simple reason is that the fields aren’t lit. If the farm has several acres, chances are that there are no lights in the fields. It’s hard to pick out a tree by flashlight. It can be done–I’ve seen people do it– but I wouldn’t recommend it unless it’s absolutely necessary.
3. Learn what currency the farm takes.
Many farms take cash, checks, and credit or debit cards. Some only take cash. Others take a combination–credit and debit cards can be used for trees, wreaths, and roping, while concession stands may only take cash.
Many farms employ high school and college students. If an employee has been extra helpful, consider tipping him or her. The kids are always excited when someone tips them for helping carry their tree to a car. Tips aren’t necessary or expected, but they are appreciated.
4. Find out if Fido is welcome.
Some farms allow families to bring their pets to our farm, but not all farms do. If a farm allows dogs, the owners may require that the pets have current vaccinations and are on leashes.
5. Know your trees.
Some tree farms have set prices for their trees. Others charge by the species and by height. Trees always look smaller in the field than they really are. Bringing a tape measure is always a good idea.
6. Be prepared.
Check if your farm provides saws. If not, bring your own. Bring tie-down straps and bungee cords to tie your tree to your car. Some farms provide string, but with larger trees, ratcheting straps are often easier and more secure. A tarp or blanket can also help keep the top of your vehicle from being scratched by the tree’s needles. Make plans for transporting your tree ahead of time if you need a tall tree and don’t own a truck. A ten-foot tree doesn’t fit well on top of a Chevy Spark.
Second: Dress for Success
7. Dress for the weather.
Check the forecast, and then check it again. Make sure that you’re actually looking at the location of the farm. Many of our customers drive an hour or more to our farm. The weather can be drastically different by the time they get here.
8. Err on the side of caution.
It’s better to have too many layers than not enough. An extra pair of mittens for your little one who has lost one of hers can be a lifesaver. And, don’t forget the thermal underwear and hats! Wind chills can be brutal. If your child has snow pants, bring them. Wear snow pants if the forecast is 20 degrees. If you have Carhartt-type clothing, use it.
9. Don’t wear fancy footwear.
Wear boots. I have seriously seen people come to cut down Christmas trees wearing high heels and flip flops. Just don’t. Farms are rough and often muddy. Wear sturdy shoes. I prefer my insulated Muck boots.
10. Wear clothes that can get dirty.
Grass. Snow. Mud. To cut a Christmas tree, most people kneel or lie on the ground. At a minimum, the knees in your jeans will get dirty. Your six-year-old could trip and fall in the mud or snow. If the ground isn’t frozen yet; mud is a real possibility. If you want to stay as clean as possible, think about bringing a small tarp, piece of plastic, or even a garbage bag to kneel or lie on while cutting your tree.
Also, watch where you are walking and look out for stumps and holes. A Christmas tree farm is a working farm, just like any other. We dig trees, and while we try to fill as many holes as possible, sometimes there are some that we just haven’t gotten to yet. And stumps? This time of year, with people cutting trees daily, there are tons of stumps!
Third: Have fun!
11. Enjoy your day in the country
Create new traditions at the Christmas tree farm. Hold a tailgate party with your friends and family. Take pictures and share them with us. We love to see families having fun on our farm. It’s a beautiful piece of property and we enjoy sharing it with others.
While there are many tips for visiting a Christmas tree farm that will help you, the customer, there is one that will benefit the growers. When you find a tree farm that suits you, talk about it. Most tree farms are family owned and operated – they don’t have large advertising budgets and rely on word of mouth to attract new customers.
If you do plan on visiting a Christmas tree farm this holiday season, be sure to plan ahead, dress for success, and most of all, have fun. And, if you live in Northeast Ohio, be sure to check out the Northeast Ohio Christmas Tree Growers page. You’ll be sure to find several wonderful family-owned and operated farms in their group directory.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my tips for visiting a Christmas tree farm. For more information about my family and our adventures, visit our About Me page. And, if you happen to chance upon our farm, stop out and visit me at the wreath table.
Here is a list of popular tree types available at Northeast Ohio Real Christmas Tree Farms
– Balsam Fir –
Found throughout the Canadian Maritimes and remote parts of northern New England, this fir was the first plantation-grown Christmas tree in the Northeast. Its soft, dark green foliage, with flattened needles about three-quarters of an inch in length, has a distinctive “balsam” aroma. Its sturdy branching and excellent needle retention have made it a longtime favorite Christmas tree.
– Canaan Fir –
Found widely within the Canaan Valley of northeastern West Virginia, this tree is a genetic variation of traditional Balsam Fir. Native also to Pennsylvania and New York where it can be found in remote stands, its range extends as far north as Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia. Although similar in appearance to the traditional sources, its needles tend to be longer, about one inch in length, and vary more in color. Its foliage, however, can often retain the bottlebrush appearance of Fraser Fir, its southern counterpart. Relatively new to the Christmas tree industry, its popularity continues to rise.
– Concolor Fir –
Most commonly known as White Fir, this evergreen is widely distributed throughout the southwestern United States, from the Rockies of Colorado and New Mexico in the east, to California’s Sierra Nevada range in the west. Its soft, silvery-blue foliage, with flattened needles about two to three inches in length, has a distinctive citrus aroma. Its outstanding color and excellent needle retention make it an increasingly popular Christmas trees.
– Douglas Fir –
First studied by Scottish botanist, David Douglas, in the 1820’s, this conifer is widely distributed throughout western North America from the interior lake country of British Columbia to the mountains of Mexico. Found in the central Rockies, the hardy “blue” strain is widely used as a Christmas tree in the Northeast. Its lush, blue-green foliage, with needles about one inch in length, is very attractive. Its sturdy branching and outstanding needle retention make this evergreen a holiday favorite.
– Fraser Fir –
Also known as “Southern Balsam,” this stately fir, native to the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, is closely related to its northern counterpart. Its soft, emerald-green needles with silvery undersides are about three-quarters of an inch in length. Its bottlebrush texture, sturdy branching, and outstanding needle retention make it a superb Christmas tree whose popularity has grown rapidly in recent years.
– Scotch Pine –
Known as the cosmopolitan tree of Europe, this conifer was one of the first plantation-grown Christmas trees in the United States. Its sharp, blue-green foliage, with needles about two to three inches in length, can be sheared to an appealing density. Its conical shape, excellent color, and needle retention made it the Christmas tree of choice for many years.
– White Pine –
Widely distributed throughout the forests of eastern North America, this tree, native to the Northeast, has soft, lacy, blue-green foliage with needles about three to four inches in length. A very graceful-looking evergreen, its fragrance and excellent needle retention made it a popular Christmas tree for many years, especially in the traditional South.
– Colorado Blue Spruce –
Found throughout the central Rockies, this spruce borrows its name from the Centennial State and has stout, three-sided needles about three-quarters of an inch in length. Its foliage can vary in color from dark green to indigo blue. Its sturdy branching and good needle retention make it a desirable Christmas tree, while its excellent form and outstanding color make it the premier ornamental evergreen.
– Norway Spruce –
Native to the great Baltic conifer forest of northern Europe, this tree has shiny, dark green foliage with needles about one-half inch in length. Often found at a choose & harvest plantation, the rich foliage of this spruce can exhibit good needle retention with proper care. Its value as an ornamental landscape tree is also widely recognized.
– White Spruce –
Spanning the entire width of North America, this spruce is decidedly Northland tree found throughout the lake-studded Canadian Shield and northern United States. Its delicate, blue-green foliage, with needles about one-half inch in length, is very appealing. Given proper care, this tree also exhibits good needle retention and can be found most often in a choose & harvest plantation. Its excellent form and color make it an exceptional Christmas tree.
“Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association.” Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2016. <http://christmastrees.org/>.
Make a fresh cut a minimum of one quarter inch off the base of the trunk before placing a tree in the stand. This opens the tree system so it can take up water. Immediately place your tree in the stand and fill it with water. If you allow the water level to drip below the fresh cut, a new seal will form over the stem. Remember, your tree may drink up to a gallon of water a day. Usa a stand with a capacity of a gallon or more. Check the stand daily and supply fresh water as needed.
- Real Trees are renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and metals.
- Real Christmas Trees are grown in all 50 states. Most artificial trees are manufactured in Korea, Thailand or Hong Kong.
- There are about 1 million acres production for growing Christmas Trees. Each acre provides the daily oxygen requirements for 18 people.
- For every Real Christmas Tree harvested, 2-3 seedlings are planted in its place the following spring.
- It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average retail sale height (6 feet) but the average growing time is 7 years.
- There are approximately 12,000 choose & cut farms in the United States