Christmas comes only once a year, and picking out the perfect tree to jolly up the house is a tradition for many families. While heading out into the woods used to be the only way people obtained a cedar or spruce, the convenience of pre-cut and artificial trees has somewhat caused the tradition to dwindle. However, cutting your own tree can still be fun for the whole family. If you feel like changing it up this year, we’ve got you covered on everything you need to know about cutting your own perfect Christmas tree.
Know Your Species
There’s more than just one type of pine evergreen.. and the variety and popularity of Christmas trees vary geographically throughout the United States. The four most popular species are the balsam fir, douglas fir, red cedar and scotch pine.
The classic Christmas tree. This specie is popular in the Northeastern U.S. where cold winters and mild summers provide the perfect growing climate. It has a deep green color and a natural cone shape allowing for minimal trimming after cutting. Not to mention this is one of the most aromatic trees to decorate your living room with.
The Northwest’s favorite. It has a paler green color and softer needles than the Balsam. This tree always has a natural cone shape and holds its needles longer than most. If you’re looking to cut one from a farm, you’d better be on the west coast. While they are found on the east coast, they are often times far more expensive.
A Midwestern tradition. This hardy pine commonly grows near the Canadian border, which has a colder climate and weaker soil. Unlike the other two trees, this one will require some trimming to achieve the Christmas tree look. The dark green color and stiff branches make it perfect for decorating with those heavier ornaments.
The South’s tree. Commonly referred to as the Eastern red cedar, pencil cedar and aromatic cedar, this tree has a dark shiny green color. Cedars grow natively in the southern U.S. making it very popular and plentiful in this part of the country.This tree also has the cone shape naturally so little to no trimming is required.
When To Cut
These days, it seems like people begin decorating for Christmas before Halloween.You may be ready to jump into the holiday spirit, but that is way too early to cut a tree. A well-watered tree holds its needles on average of three to four weeks. Depending on when you decorate, this gives you a window from the last week in November to mid-December.
Tips For Cutting
You’ll want to be sure to pick a saw that has a long blade and is made for wood. You will spend a long time cutting with a short blade. If you’re planning to head into the woods and fulfill your Griswold family Christmas dream, be sure to check if your area’s regulations. The U.S. Forest Service has set guidelines for location and size. Cutting at a downward angle helps release pressure off the saw blade and allows it to cut through easier. Once the tree starts to lean, finish your cuts quickly. Never push the tree over as this can cause the bark to split. Wearing gloves and long sleeves will help reduce blisters and prevent your hands from becoming covered in tree sap.