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How to buy and care for a real tree for the holidays

Firefighter Tim Kraemer with Balsam and Fraser Fir trees now available at the Picton station’s new 8 McDonald Drive location. Trees are $45 each. All proceeds assist the firefighters in their support of various County charities.

Firefighter Tim Kraemer with Balsam and Fraser Fir trees now available at the Picton station’s new 8 McDonald Drive location. Trees are $45 each. All proceeds assist the firefighters in their support of various County charities.

Carson Arthur

Carson Arthur

If you’re at all like me and choose to have a real tree in your home for the holidays, then NOW is the time to go out and get it. I realize that those homeowners with a faux tree may already have theirs up, but for us ‘traditionalists’, waiting until the cold snap has hit the air truly signifies the start of the holiday season. Before you make the trek out to the lot or the tree farm, here are a few things to consider when choosing what type of tree will work best for you:

1. Pine Trees. Long-needled pines may not be what you picture when choosing your tree, but they definitely have some benefits over the other options. Pine trees have the firmest branches of the market options. This means you can load them down with garlands, lights and ornaments without fear of ‘limb droop’. Pines also hold their needles longer than the average making them ideal for warmer homes. Pines don’t have a strong smell that might work better if you prefer potpourri to woodsy forest. Pines have one other benefit over all of the other options; those long needles are the easiest to clean up at the end of the holiday season.
2. Spruce Trees. Probably the most popular of the Christmas tree choices, the spruce is readily available and the best value for your money. Growing up, we always had spruce trees with their little needles. With lots of fragrance, bringing in the spruce tree started a 4-week long game of trying to keep the water full and the needles on the branches. It’s almost like winning the lottery if your tree has a majority of its needles left after the holidays. With lots of little branches, spruce trees are perfectly shaped for showcasing those expensive ornaments in all their glory.

3. Fraser and Douglas Fir. Called the Cadillac of Christmas trees, the Fir family has it all and a price tag to prove it. Clearly the most expensive of the options, Firs are known for their fantastic smell, their soft feel and the needles which stay on twice as long as the other. Unfortunately because of their soft branches, Fir trees definitely look better with fewer decorations on them so you might have to be choosy when it comes time to dress them up.

Once you’ve found your perfect tree, make sure you get that base trimmed which will help the tree absorb more fluids and nutrients. Think of your tree like a cut flower, they last longer the sooner you get them into the vase. Instead of just water however, try my simple recipe that will ensure that your tree lasts even longer:

For every cup of clean water add:

5 tbsps. of sugar (this is the food)
1 tbsp. of bleach (yes bleach, as it prevents bacteria from growing in your tree stand)
1 teaspoon of white vinegar (acidifies the water for better absorption)

Alternate this mix with plain water for each feeding. I promise, it will help your tree… and the clean up after the holidays are over!

-Landscape designer Carson Arthur is host of HGTV’s new Home to Win show. He is also the outdoor expert with City TV’s Cityline and wrote the sell-out book Garden Designs for Outdoor Living in 2015. More at carsonarthur.com
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