A Cut your own Christmas Tree Guide

'Must Know' tips to make your family trip to the

Christmas Tree Farm a better experience

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After you have selected your Christmas tree farm, gotten the family properly dressed, everything and everyone loaded into the car, and driven to your destination, you are now ready for:


(1) Check-in at the front gate, parking area or office.
Most farms will have a sign posted with rules and regulations governing their property. These rules are for your, and your family's protection. Read them carefully and observe them. Explain to the small ones any rules that apply to them. Kids will behave when they know that Santa watches over all of his Christmas trees. The check-in area is also where you will get directions to the best trees and can borrow saws or gloves.

(2) Ask about and understand the pricing policy BEFORE going out in the field.
Some farms price their trees individually, most however, sell them by the foot. If a farm has multiple tree varieties some types can cost more than others. Know what your tree will cost. If it is priced by the foot, measure your selection and calculate roughly in your head, what your tree will cost BEFORE you ever put the saw on the trunk. The last thing you want is a dispute over money, or a surprise total to spoil your family outing.

(3) Use reasonable caution in the fields.
Most tree farms employ several methods to keep their fields well groomed and safe, but there are often things that are beyond the owner's control. Keep an eye out for previously cut Christmas tree stumps, animal holes, fire-ant mounds, blackberry vines, sharp rocks, insect nests and other possible dangers. Keep an adult close to children. They will naturally want to run and jump, however close supervision among the trees is paramount to insuring a safe an enjoyable experience.

(4) Selecting which tree to cut.
When you find a tree that appears right in shape and size, the first thing you want to do is to walk all the way around it, looking for gaping holes or broken branches in its foliage. Minor such problems can be turned toward the back when setting up the tree, but a major flaw or a multitude of minor ones will be reason for rejection. Check that the trunk is sufficiently straight. Keeping in mind that most trees will have some small crooks (especially pine varieties). Make sure the base will be long enough to accommodate your stand. Also you should remember that it is a normal part of the life cycle of all conifers to drop, or shed, a portion of their oldest needles in the fall. This may make them appear as if they have an abundance of brown needles, but if all the main branches are green and healthy this really isn't a problem. If you have some doubt as to the health or suitability of a particular tree ask an attendant to look at it before you begin cutting.

(5) Actual Christmas tree Cutting
Cutting down your selected tree is a TWO PERSON job. One person must hold onto the tree while the other one gets down on the ground and begins the sawing process. While you are sawing, your helper should tug on the tree lightly to ensure that the saw kerf remains open to prevent binding. This light tugging, should be in the opposite direction of the cut. Make sure that your holder knows to be ready just as you are finishing the cut, otherwise the tree could fall over, onto you or one of the nearby kids. Being small, the tree is not really going to injure anyone if this should happen, but it could deliver a scratch or two.

(6) Get the tree to the processing area.
Some of the larger farms have wagons that come along and load up your Christmas tree and haul it to the check out for you. This is great when they do, otherwise you will have to trek back to the process area carrying (or dragging) your tree. This could conceivably turn into quite a chore. If you know before hand that this is the case then try to select a tree that is close to where you need to check out. The processing area will shake out the loose needles and apply a net to your tree. The netting is usually free but some farms do charge a small fee for this. Consider it well worth the price, it will make removal from your vehicle, and transport through your house tremendously easier.

(7) Load up your Christmas tree.
If you are lucky enough to have a truck, loading up the tree is easy. Cars and SUVs on the other hand require a little more effort:
a) If your vehicle has a roof rack, securing your Christmas tree to the top is the preferable method of transport. Always face the base of the tree toward the front, so the the wind will not damage any branches. Bungee straps work best for securing the tree.
b) Car trunks can be problematic as your Christmas tree will need to protrude out. A large piece of cardboard or an old heavy blanket can be put over the tree to help protect it, then tie or bungee strap the trunk lid. Not so tight, as to damage the tree.
c) The backs of SUVs are nice, if the seats fold down and the length of the Christmas tree allows it to fit, which is usually the case. If the tree is NOT netted, load it into the vehicle from an open door or window with the base toward the rear. This way you can unload it later by pulling it out the back, and not damage any limbs.

(8) Setting up your Christmas tree.
For now, leave the netting on. Stand it up in the room where it goes and check the height - remember you have a star, angel or top ornament that will have to go on the tree. If the height of the tree needs adjusting you can remove some of the base before mounting. Once you have the tree securely mounted in the Christmas tree stand, move the stand and tree together to their final desired location. Now you can carefully remove the netting and allow the branches to fall out to their normal positions. Gently assist them if necessary. If needed, now is the time to shape the tree by trimming off any long or unruly branches. Rotate the Christmas tree so that any bare spots are to the back and the fullest areas are forward.

Decorate your Christmas tree as desired and enjoy.

Happy Holidays

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