How to buy a real tree

The Guardian - - MONEY -

Are you hooked on the look, char­ac­ter and aroma of a real Christ­mas tree? Then here’s our sixstep guide how to pick the right one.

• Step one: Pick it up and drop it on its stump from a few inches above ground. If more than a few nee­dles drop, it has not been freshly cut. • Step two: Com­pare weights. In the trade, trees are sold whole­sale as pre­mium, stan­dard and third grade. Pre­mium trees are heav­ier, bushier and have a straight “leader” (the cen­tral stem at the top of the tree).

• Step three: Don’t buy Nor­way spruces at the begin­ning of De­cem­ber: their nee­dles drop early. But if you prefer to put up a tree closer to Christ­mas, a spruce should last the 12 days.

• Step four: If you want an early tree, buy a Nord­mann fir. The nee­dles won’t drop. They cost more be­cause they take about seven years to grow com­pared with five for a Nor­way spruce.

•Step five: The big-box re­tail­ers aren’t that bad. B&Q is sell­ing its medium Nord­mann fir for £36, while Ikea is of­fer­ing a £20 voucher to spend in its store if you buy its £25 tree, ef­fec­tively cut­ting the cost to £5. The draw­back is that the tree is only 4.5ft high. Aldi’s 5ft Nord­mann fir is a bar­gain at £17.99, while Lidl is charg­ing £19.99. Wye­vale Gar­den Cen­tres of­fers Nord­mann firs at £30 for un­der 5ft, ris­ing to £68 for a 7ft to 8.5ft tree. • Step six: Buy from a lo­cal grower if you can. The Bri­tish Christ­mas Tree Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion web­site, bctga.co.uk, will show you where you can buy lo­cally.

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