Fresh Christmas trees are fragrant and attractive but some people feel badly cutting down a living thing for just a few weeks enjoyment. If you think about it, though, Christmas trees are a local agricultural crop, grown to be harvested just like tomatoes and corn. New trees are planted every year or two to replace the ones harvested. While growing, they provide habitat and cover for wildlife, prevent soil erosion, produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and contribute to the local economy through sales and taxes. So buying a local fresh tree is a benefit in many ways. Once up and decorated, the freshly cut local tree will have improved needle retention and be less of a fire hazard throughout the season than one that was trucked in after being cut weeks ago. Some towns in our area will chip trees in January; check with your town office or landfill. The chips can then either be used as mulch or composted. Or you can cut off the branches and lay them over your perennial flower beds. There they will trap snow and provide a light winter mulch, leaving you with only the trunk to deal with. Types of Trees
There are a few different types, or species of trees from which to choose. Balsam fir is a classic Adirondack species and for my money, nothing else smells as nice. The needles are not prickly and usually hold on quite well. If you buy a tree a little taller than you need, you can cut off and use the lower branches for wreaths or decorations. Fraser fir looks very similar to balsam fir, is native to the Carolinas and does not have the scent of balsam fir. Colorado blue spruce is a gorgeous Christmas tree but I do have one warning its needles are extremely sharp and painful to work around. Avoid this tree if you have small children. Also, spruce dont have the scent of a balsam fir. Our native white spruce is a beautiful tree and not as prickly as the Colorado spruce, but it has a very unpleasant odor at room temperature. Use white spruce for outdoor decorations only. Tips For Selecting A Christmas Tree
To find the freshest tree, bend over a couple of needles with your fingers. The needles on fresh trees will bend under pressure, while those on dry trees are brittle and will break easily. You can also run your finger along a branch or bounce the tree gently on the ground. A fresh tree wont drop any needles. When you get home, make a fresh cut across the base of the trunk just before setting the tree in the stand, this helps the tree take up more water. Check the water level every day. There are all kinds of suggestions of things to add to the water from pennies to aspirin to help keep the tree fresher longer but not much research has been done on them. The most important practice is to not let the tree run out of water. You may have to add water every day at first, so check it often.