Christmas Trees in Tampa

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How to pick the perfect Tree

[to fit your home and lifestyle, for a joyous, and low-maintanance Season]

Every family has different traditions about selecting the Christmas Tree that adorns the home. Most make it an "event", with everyone piling into the largest family car or truck and heading off to the Christmas tree lot. I know of several families where "Dad" just arrives at home with the "perfect" tree after work on Friday night and the decorating is a Saturday morning tradition.

   Every Christmas is the "1st Christmas" for some family, somewhere, buying a Christmas tree for the first time. There are some things you should know about the "business" of selling Christmas trees and how it effects the choices you can make. Ensure your family's Christmas tree is the one that's just right for you. we'll try to cover the basics and offer advice, just like Grandpa used to do.

How to shop for Christmas tree?
The first thing you must know is, just like grocery shopping when you are hungry, It's not a good idea to go shopping for a Christmas tree without knowing what you want. Christmas trees are not wildly expensive, but you can't "return it for a refund", if it's the wrong size, color or shape, Find a "handyman's tape measure", with at least 8 feet of length and look at the room where you intend to "install" your Christmas tree. The location will tell you a lot about the size and shape of your Christmas tree. Every home, apartment and condo is different, but there are some things you consider, before deciding "where" to put the tree.

Never place a Christmas tree near any heat source. Yes, your fireplace can spark to the tree, but radiators, old cast-iron stoves and modern heating vents, can prematurely "dry-out" your Christmas tree. Dry trees are a fire hazard and turn an ugly brown color, before Santa arrives.

Don't put your Christmas tree in the most traveled section of the home. You don't want to have the kids, visitors, or Grandma bumping into it. Larger pets, like dogs and cats, or even birds that escape from the cage can cause your Christmas tree to tumble. Pets are a special issue, we'll discuss elsewhere. Generally, Christmas tree are best placed in the corner of a large room, without doors or walkways directly on either side of the branches. Everyone says" It will be OK. We'll be really careful". Picking up a fallen tree is a lot of work. Broken ornaments cause family members to cry and spilled tree stand water and needles are hard to clean up, quickly. Take the time to think about tree placement locations in your home, before you go shopping.

How to decide what size tree is "right" for you. - Click here
Don't just measure the HEIGHT of the room and think you are ready. Remember that your Christmas tree probably has an ornament on top and a tree stand to hold it up.

    Here is a quick "formula" to estimate which tree size will fit in your home. The MAXIMUM height of the tree you should buy is the height of your ceiling, MINUS:Christmas tree > 6 inches for ceiling clearance > The height of your treetop ornament > 12 to 15 inches of the tree trunk/ stem > the height of the tree stand you'll be using.[about 3 to 5 inches, commonly] A common ceiling height in Florida homes, apartments and condo's is 8 feet. A six foot tall tree can very quickly "fill" the room. The temptation is to want a "big" Christmas tree, especially for young families expecting to have lots of visitors and hosting "1st" Christmas gatherings.

    You are still not ready to go shopping. How large is the diameter space in the tree's location. A "short, fat" tree can take up more space in a room than a "tall, skinny" tree. It is not unusual for a 6 foot TALL tree to be 6 feet WIDE too. Believe us, when we tell you too big is worse than too small. If the tree fits the space you have, the lights and ornaments will make it look wonderful in the pictures you will take. The "shape" of your Christmas tree is personal preference. "Tall and slender" or "short and fat" is nothing more than an illusion in the room. When you go shopping for a Christmas tree, "know" the exact space you have to fill. Remember to bring your tape measure with you to the tree lot. Christmas trees are sold as 6 foot trees, 7 foot trees, 8 foot trees, etc. None of those measurements are exact, and "tags" will probably be "off" by 6 inches either way, at least. When you find several trees that are the correct height, the first thing you want to do is look at the placement of the bottom-most large branches. You'll want a tree with a tree trunk or "stem" that is long enough to allow for installation in the tree stand without the need to cut-off the bottom whorl of branches. Professional Christmas tree farmers use USDA "tree grades" to specify the proper length of a stem for each tree height. Ideally, Your Christmas tree should have a stem that is 5 to 6 inches in length for each foot of tree height. Let's go back to our example [above] of a 6 foot Christmas tree in a room with an 8 foot ceiling. the stem should be 36 inches long [6 inches times 6 foot, height] Some tree types are sold with shorter stems, like Fraser Firs. They just grow that way. Remember you'll need "length" in a trees stem for the tree stand to hold it in place and space to cut a notch to allow the tree to drink, [more below] after it is set in place in your home. Inspecting the lowest most whorl of branches will also allow you to measure the trees diameter. Will it "fit" in the space available back home?
Why it is important to buy the freshest tree(s) - Click here

If I can re-use the grocery story analogy again, [Don't go shopping hungry], You should buy the "freshest" tree you can find too. [ We look inside the husk of corn ears and "thump" melons to see if they are ripe.] Do the same at the Christmas tree lot. Most Christmas trees are farm-grown and harvested, like any other crop. Freshness is important to helping it last until after the New Year's celebration. Going to a local "cut your own" tree farm might "guarantee" a freshly cut tress, but is generally not neccessary. Use the little knowledge we have provided here, and you'll make a smart purchase.

    "Fresh" is a poor term, because it doesn't mean anything in the Christmas tree "business", but it's the word most easily throw-around. What you want is a "healthy" tree. Look for trees that are strong and straight with nice branches, covered with vibrant, flexible and colorful needles. That is the sign of a healthy tree. The needles should be pliable and stay attached to the branch. Softly pinch any branch, about six inches from the tip. Slowly and softly pull your thumb and forefinger to the branch tip. Don't grab hard or yank on the branch, but the needles should adhere to the branch and not fall off in your hand. If you bend a needle, it should be flexible, not brittle, snapping in half. Healthy Christmas trees have a sweet fragrance and a uniformly pretty color. Finally, a fresh tree will drink water from your tree stand. [more on this below] and a well hydrated tree will last and look better, longer.

After selecting your tree, You will need to get it home and set-up. When you go Christmas tree shopping, be prepared to make the trip home. The tape measure will help you buy the proper size tree, but a vehicle with the capacity to bring the tree home is important too. Bring gloves and twine/ rope to tie the tree down. Even in the back of a pickup truck, you don't want to leave a tree free to move around and damage itself. An old blanket or tarp will protect your car's paint job from scratches, "bark scuff" and tree sap. Many tree lots have trees that are bundled in burlap for commercial transport and re-wrapping your tree is a good idea, for the trip home.

 If the transport time from the retail lot or farm to the final destination is more than 15 min, it is best to wrap the tree in a tarp, or carry it in an enclosed trailer or the back of a pick-up. Strong winds of 60 mph on the highway, especially during warm weather, can damage a tree in a short time. Florida's warm Christmases are more damaging to a Christmas tree than bitter cold weather.

When you arrive at home, Always check your Christmas tree in the driveway for insects and bugs before bringing the tree inside. Most retailers have "shakers" that remove debris from trees. Take the time to make sure dead needles and trash is shaken out or blown from the tree.

Your Christmas tree will be "thirsty", when you arrive at home. Make a "fresh cut" to the tree base, removing about 1/2 inch of the stem. Fill a bucket with room temperature water and allow your tree to "drink", while you find your tree stand and prepare to set it up.

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