A crispness enters the air, green becomes white and soon the holidays are upon us. The quest for a real Christmas tree is one many of us take on with joy every year. And why not? A real tree brings the great outdoors in and provides us with all the benefits only real trees can.

So before your quest begins, consider the following four points when selecting your perfect tree:

  1. Support local
    In addition to supporting your local businesses and reducing the amount of fossil fuels used in transportation, choosing a locally-grown Christmas tree also reduces the risk of spreading insects and diseases. While there are strict regulations and inspections on the movement of Christmas trees to help keep our forest safe – we can all do our part!
  2. Pick the right tree for the right place
    While there are some great native trees to choose from, be sure to pay attention to the look and feel of each tree species. You may prefer the long needles of a pine, the sharp-needled fullness of a spruce, or the wispy softness of a balsam fir. Regardless of your preference, providing choices means diversity. Farms are therefore able to grow and propagate different trees that have different benefits on the farm while they are there.

    Keep an eye on the height of the tree, and its spread (just like when choosing a tree to plant) as well. While you can likely prune off the tips of the top of the tree or the ends of wayward branches, don’t go too wild with the pruning shears or you will risk ruining the overall form of the tree.

  3. Make sure the tree is healthy
    While it is not likely that the tree will be diseased, have a look at base of the needles to look for signs of insects and diseases. These may appear as white specks where the needle connects to the branch, or dark oozing blotches. Presence of insects or disease will mostly be aesthetic, but it is best to avoid the chances of bringing something nasty home to your local trees, especially if you plan on disposing of the tree in your garden or own property.
  4. Think where the tree will go after the holidays
    Do have a plan for how you will get the tree out once you bring it in? It is certainly easy to get through doorways when it is all tightly wrapped, but once you release the thread, those boughs will be wide and the needles will fall as you force the tree out the door. Find out your local restrictions or programs for Christmas tree disposal, or think of creative ways for your tree to live on after the holidays. Many municipalities pick up trees for compost, some mulch them for use in the community, while others might use them as decoration in winter festivals, like the National Capital Commission in Ottawa along the Rideau Canal as part of Winterlude.