If you haven't already picked out your Christmas tree, you're probably not alone. There's still time, however, it's important to keep some things in mind, according to one local expert.
Donald E. Covel Jr., owner and operator of Covel's Tree Farm in Peru, said there are advantages to picking a tree closer to Christmas. Many of the trees found in local tree farms and lots are fresh, compared to wholesale distributors and ones that deal with imported trees, he said.
"If a tree's fresh cut, it's going to last a lot longer than say a tree coming down from Canada that's supplementing some tree farms," said Covel. "They may be cheaper, but the growers up there cut 40,000-50,000 trees, which is a big business for them, so they're cutting a lot of trees in September and they're not as fresh."
When that's the case, consumers have to worry about getting a lackluster tree that can be subject to "needle drop," in which the tree's needles shed due to failing health of the tree, Covel said.
"And, fresh-cut trees aren't going to discolor as fast as ones that have been cut for two or three months," he said.
When buying a tree, Covel said it's important to keep in mind the height and girth of the tree, to be sure it will fit in the room you plan to place it. Once it's home, Covel suggests leaving it in the bailing - if it has been bailed or wrapped by the place of purchase - and making a fresh cut at the base of the tree.
"That helps it better absorb the water," he said.
Once the cut has been made, the tree should be positioned in a tree stand and fresh water should be placed in the stand before opening the bailing, he said.
"Once you get it standing straight in the stand, then make sure it's away from the wall and cut [the bailing] open," said Covel.
The care for a tree at that point involves routinely adding water to the reservoir in the tree stand.
"You have to watch your tree because some days it will drink a lot, some days it won't," said Covel. "It kind of varies. But, you want to make sure it doesn't run out of water because when that happens, the pitch in the tree is going to go to the bottom and stop it from drinking anymore."
Covel's daughter, Kimberly Lincoln, creates wreaths for her father's business and says the key to maintaining a healthy wreath is a little easier than taking care of a tree.
"All you really have to do is hang them," she said. "Now, if you have a centerpiece, you can water them. The ones we have have a little oasis in them that holds the water that helps keep them fresh. Those you should check daily and water them if it looks needed."