Going out to cut your own Christmas tree is a time-honored family holiday tradition that signals the start of the Christmas season. Here are tips on cutting down a Christmas tree and other useful Christmas tree care information when you visit your local Christmas tree farm.
Why should you cut your own Christmas tree?
- Fresh Cut Trees last longer - If you are close enough to a cut your own tree farm and you are able to cut your own tree, it will last longer into the holiday season versus a tree from a pre-cut tree lot. Pre-cut trees could have been cut as early as the beginning of November and transported over hundreds of miles to reach the tree lot, drying out in transportation.
- Support local farms - we try and support local whenever possible such as when we have a date night in York, Pa and small family farms are one of the backbones of our local economy. By cutting down your Christmas tree at a local farm, you are investing your dollars in your local economy and giving job opportunities to your neighbors.
- Smaller carbon footprint - by cutting your own tree at a local farm, you are keeping your Christmas tree carbon footprint small. You are using your vehicle to transport the tree instead of having a tractor-trailer transport the tree up to hundreds of miles to your city.
- Make memories - you are making good memories with your friends and family when you cut down your own Christmas tree. There is always an adventure and stories to tell and retell year after year.
- Less expensive - cutting your own tree instead of buying from a tree lot can be less expensive. Tree lots have to pay for staff to load and unload the trees, often there are security cameras to purchase and monitor as well as rental of the actual tree lot.
Tips for cutting down your own Christmas tree
- Choose a cut your own Christmas tree farm - Just because a pine tree in growing in the wild or in a filed does not mean you get to cut it down. Family owned and run Christmas tree farms grow and trim beautiful Christmas trees for the community to come, cut one down and purchase it.
- Measure your space - Use a measuring tape to measure not only the height of your ceiling but the depth of the space that your holiday tree will be placed once it is brought home. Typically a standard home will have 7-foot ceilings.
- Dress for the occasion - Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes and weather-appropriate clothing when you go to cut down your tree. I also bring a blanket or a jacket that I can wear that can get dirty. Lay the blanket down on the ground before laying on the ground to cut the trunk of the tree. Also an old jacket or shirt can be used to protect your clothes from sap dripping from the needles.
- Check the tree from every angle - walk around the tree to make note of any bare spot, crooked trunks and to be sure the tree has the 'look' you want. A tree may be beautifully shaped on one side but bare on the opposite side. This would be a tree that needs to be put in a corner or up against a wall instead of in the center of a room or entryway.
- Use the right tools for cutting down the tree - contrary to what you see in the movies, a hatchet or axe is not the correct tool used to cut down a pine tree. Use a bow saw that has a sharp serrated blade. Many Christmas tree farms will provide a saw free of charge or for a minor fee, if you forget to bring one.
- Hold as you cut - Have a friend, partner or field hand hold the trunk of the tree steady for you as you saw at the base of the tree. Be sure to saw all the way through the trunk and avoid pushing the tree over to free it from the base. This can cause the tree to snap up and injure you.
- Shake and pull - once the tree is free from the stump, stand it up on the cut end and shake the tree. Pick it up and drop it several times on the cut trunk. This will shake free any loose needles, leaving them in the field and not in your house. When pulling the tree to your vehicle, if a cart is not provided by the tree farm, grasp the tree by the branches closest to the trunk, choosing one that will not break off as you pull the tree trunk side first.
- Cut it close - cut the tree as close to the ground as possible. This will not only keep the tree farm safer by not having a longer stump for people to trip over, but it will give you as much trunk as possible, allowing you to have ample trunk to put into your tree stand.
Chrismtas Tree Cutting Helpful Hints:
- Lay the blanket down on the ground before laying on the ground to cut the trunk of the tree. Also, an old jacket or shirt can be used to protect your clothes from sap dripping from the needles.
- Once the tree is free from the stump, stand it up on the cut end and shake the tree. Pick it up and drop it several times on the cut trunk. This will shake free any loose needles.
Tips for keeping a fresh cut Christmas Tree fresh:
- Acclimate your tree to the indoors - If possible, bring the tree into an indoor space such as a basement or garage space for 12 hours before decorating. This will help it adjust to the indoor temperature.
- Location, Location, Location - Place your Christmas tree away from sources of heat, such as fireplaces, heater vents, space heaters and stoves. We have a piece of plywood over our closed heat return to ensure the tree does not have heat blowing on it.
- Keep the tree watered – during the first few days after it’s been cut, check the water level of the tree stand, keeping the water-filled regularly. If the water does dry out, it is possible that the sap will form a 'crust' over the cut edge of the trunk, not allowing it to draw up water. The only way to fix this is to take the tree down, make a new cut and put the tree back up.