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Picking out the family tree is a holiday custom in many homes. Whatever type of tree (or trees) you shop for, make it a fun and uncomplicated process.
Live Christmas trees are either freshly cut or balled and burlapped (B&B) with the roots intact. Real trees have the distinctive, pleasant evergreen smell and feel. Live trees require some preparation and care, but traditionalists feel this is a valuable part of the holiday tradition.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, hence the arrival of the artificial Christmas tree. The early awkward efforts have evolved into some amazingly realistic versions. Easy to set up and store, artificial trees don't shed needles and are hypoallergenic. After they're set up and decorated, the only work left is stacking presents underneath.
Most popular Christmas trees come from the pine or fir species. Choosing the right type depends on personal taste and regional availability.
Pine Trees — Pine trees have long, slender needles 1 inch to 6 inches long attached in clusters to branches. These trees vary in shades of yellow-green and blue-green. Most types have strong branches and retain their needles well. Scotch pine is one of the best Christmas pines.
Fir Trees — Fir trees have flat and waxy needles up to 1 1/2 inches long attached directly to branches in long, dense rows. Color varies from yellow-green to dark green, and some species have touches of reddish-brown on the buds. Firs have a very noticeable fragrance. Firs also have more flexible branches than pines or spruces and will shed some needles. The best varieties are Grand, Fraser, Noble, Balsam and Douglas.
Whether cut or live, remember the following to make sure your tree purchase is a wise one:
Fresh-cut trees are by far the most popular type of Christmas tree. Make sure you get the best tree for your home.
As an alternative to a cut tree, you may choose to buy a living tree. These trees are dug with the root ball intact, then wrapped in burlap for shipment and planting. A B&B tree can be replanted after the holiday season.
If a living tree appeals to you, be sure to follow all instructions offered by the grower to care for your tree properly. A living tree has a better chance of survival if it's inside for only about seven days. Here are some basic care tips for a living Christmas tree: