Garden Advice

A Real Christmas Tree Buying Guide

Nothing brings out the Christmas spirit like the smell of fresh pine needles from a real tree. The tradition of choosing the perfect Christmas tree and taking it home is a favourite of many families. If you still prefer the real thing, but don’t know where to start, read on! This Christmas tree buying guide will answer all your questions.

Table of Contents:

So, if you are:

  • Thinking of buying a real Christmas tree;
  • Wondering what to look for when shopping for an evergreen;
  • Looking for different types of Christmas trees;

Then this article is for you!

Before you buy

Buying a live Christmas tree requires some preparation. You wouldn’t want to spend all that time looking for the perfect tree, only to find out it’s too big for your living room, right? So, here is what to pay attention to before beginning your journey.

Why buy a real Christmas tree?

With many families opting for an artificial Christmas tree, you may be wondering why to bother with a live one. Sure, it takes more effort to keep a real Christmas tree fresh. Yes, you need to spend some time watering them and cleaning pine needles off the floor.

However, many love the joy of picking out the perfect live conifer. The smell and look of natural Christmas trees can’t compare to an artificial one, no matter how realistic some modern models can be.

In addition, real trees are far more environmentally friendly. They are grown in Christmas tree plantations specifically for the holiday, which means there is no deforestation taking place. Fresh cut trees can be recycled in many ways, and the potted kind can be replanted and reused the following year. If you want to know more, in this post we point out the pros and cons of real and artificial Christmas trees.

Pick your spot

It’s important to know where your tree will go once you bring it in. You can place it anywhere you like – next to your telly, near a window or in a well-lit corner.

Just remember – never put your real Christmas tree near heat sources, such as radiators or a fireplace. The heat will dry out your tree, causing the needles to brown and start falling off. High traffic areas, such as doorways, should also be avoided. Placing the tree in a place with too much movement means someone will surely knock it over by accident.

Measure your space

Considering how much space you have is an important step to take before buying a real Christmas tree. Sure, they can be trimmed if they don’t fit, but that is just extra work that you wouldn’t really care for.

Make sure to measure your space accordingly. Height, width and depth are to be taken into account. You could consider moving some of your furniture around to make room for your Christmas tree. For more helpful tips, check out this graphic by Ballard Designs on how to measure the space you have and need for your tree.

When to buy a real Christmas tree?

This is a common question among those who choose to buy a real evergreen. After all, the thought of buying the tree too early and spending the holidays sweeping needles off the floor is unpleasant.

However, there is a simple answer.

The best time to buy a real Christmas tree will depend on when you plan on taking it down. A live conifer can last four to six weeks indoors if taken care of properly. You wouldn’t want to buy your tree too early and find it past its prime on Christmas day. But don’t wait too long – the best fresh trees get bought up quickly and you may be left with the ones nobody wanted.

So, it is recommended that you buy your real Christmas tree at the start of December. That will give you plenty of time to install it and enjoy its look through the holidays before having to take it down.

Buying the tree in person

Many people prefer to buy their Christmas tree in person, and with good reason. This way you have a chance to see the tree in all its glory before deciding if it’s right for you. It’s also a great family tradition to go to the tree farm or local shop and let the kids run around, looking for the perfect tree.

After all the fun, though, you need to bring the tree home. If your car is not large enough to accommodate it, you can tie it to the top of your vehicle or rent a van. Some tree farms may offer a delivery service as well. If you choose to tie the tree up, make sure it’s wrapped in a blanket to protect it from the wind and temperature.

Going online

Buying a Christmas tree online has its advantages. It’s no wonder some prefer it. For one, you’d skip standing around for hours in the freezing cold, looking for the perfect tree. You also get the tree delivered and installed for you, so all you have to do is pick your tree, grab a cup of hot chocolate and wait. However, you miss out on seeing the Christmas tree in person before you buy it.

How to choose the perfect tree

If you have decided to take the trip instead of waiting around for the delivery guy, here’s how to pick the best Christmas tree.

Cut or potted Christmas trees?

Real Christmas trees fall into two categories – potted and cut.

  • Pot-grown trees are smaller and are more suitable for the outdoors. You can place them close to the entrance, in the back garden or even on a patio or balcony. Overall, spots where you’re likely to welcome friends and family. Potted Christmas trees are easy to move around as they have no stand or skirt.
  • Cut Christmas trees, on the other hand, are larger and fit best inside the house, be it in a living room, dining room or the hallway. All cut Christmas trees are installed on top of a stand which also acts as a water tank.
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Types of Christmas trees

There are several different types of Christmas trees. Which one is right for you is up to your personal preference. So, exactly what kinds of Christmas trees are there?

  • Nordmann Fir
    This is the best real Christmas tree you can buy in the UK. It is perfect for those who value symmetry, as it has a nice triangle shape with a wide base. Its needles are broad and dark green in colour. The branches are widely spaced, making it a good option to display larger ornaments. The Nordmann Fir is considered a non-drop tree, meaning that it drops much fewer needles than other types. This makes it a fairly low maintenance option.
  • Fraser Fir
    If you’re looking for a classic pyraimid shape, then the Fraser fir is for you. These trees tend to be more narrow than the Nordmann kind, but still have a full, lush appearance, meaning it’s perfect if you’re looking to save some space. It’s strong, upturned branches make hanging ornaments a breeze. The Fraser fir’s needles are a deep green colour with a slight blue tint, and this tree is known for its spectacular needle retention. Plus, you can’t beat that classic Christmas fragrance!
  • Balsam Fir
    This tree’s needles are flat, with a dark green colour and flexible branches. This means it’s more suitable for light ornaments, as heavier ones may not be held up as well. The Balsam fir is also popular because of that strong Christmas scent we all love. Its branches are densely spaced, which leaves less room for larger ornaments.
  • Douglas Fir
    If you’re looking for the perfect pyramid shape – the Douglas fir is for you. Its needles are coloured blue to dark green, with bushy, densely packed branches. However, we do recommend that you test it out first and see whether it will be able to hold your ornaments well. The Douglas fir is among the stronger scented trees, bearing a nice winter fragrance.
  • Noble Fir
    Noble fir branches are sturdy and well-spaced. These trees have a strong scent and rounded, dark green needles that tend to curve upwards, making them perfect for heavier ornaments.
  • Scotch Pine
    The national tree of Scotland is also a popular Christmas tree choice. The needles are blue-tinted to dark green and quite sharp. The Scotch pine tends to have great needle retention, making it easier to clean up after Christmas. Its branches grow in bunches and are quite sturdy, meaning they will hold up heavier decorations well.
  • White Pine
    White pines are perfect for people with allergies, as they have little to no fragrance. Their needles are long, a light blue-green colour and grow in bundles. Their branches, however, are not as strong and therefore lighter ornaments are recommended.
  • Norway Spruce
    This tree’s needles are a deep, bright green colour and its branches are densely spaced. Its fragrance is not as strong as other types, but the shape of its branches and needles makes it a popular choice. It tends to drop its needles more than some other types, so taking good care of it and watering it regularly is crucial.

What to look for when buying a Christmas tree?

Now that you know what types of trees are available, here is what to take into account when choosing one:

  • Pay attention to the colour.
    Depending on the type of tree, colour is an indicator of how fresh it is. Pick a tree with bright, deep colour and steer clear of excessive browning needles.
  • Check if the needles drop.
    Buying a tree that’s going to drop half its needles on the way home wouldn’t be pleasant. So, check the needle retention beforehand. Grab the back of a branch and run your hand along with it gently. Very few needles should fall off. Alternatively, give the tree a good shake. If you notice a lot of needle loss, move on to the next tree. This one has probably not been taken care of properly.
  • Check if the base of the trunk is straight.
    No real tree will ever be perfectly shaped, and that’s part of their charm. However, a strongly curved base will make it more difficult to keep the tree straight when you install it.
  • Inspect the tree for insects.
    There are some creatures that may be hiding from the cold in your evergreen. Don’t panic – just give the tree a shake to get rid of any hibernating pests. If you want to know more about what kind of creature may be hiding in your Christmas tree, read our helpful post.

How much does a real Christmas tree cost?

Christmas trees will vary in price depending on their type and the place you buy them. For the most popular choice of tree in the UK, the Nordmann Fir, the cost will depend on its size.

The smallest Nordmann Fir (5-6 feet) can cost between £75 and £90. For 7 ft trees, prices are typically around £99, and 8 ft trees are sold for over £100. Keep in mind that those prices may vary depending on the growing method, whether a stand is included or not and more. You can buy a stand separately, or simply order one along with your tree.

A 6 ft tree with a stand can sell for around £90 – £100, while a 7 ft tree goes for £119. The price for 8 ft Nordmann Firs with a stand is around £129.

For pot-grown Norway Spruce trees (3-4 feet), you can expect to pay around £79.

Need more information? Head over to our post on how much does a real Christmas tree cost.

When to buy a Christmas tree?

Most people buy their Christmas trees during the first or second week of December. Avoid postponing your real Christmas tree purchase until the third week, as by that time, stocks are usually running low as demand tends to increase.

There are several things you should keep in mind when deciding on this, however, and if you want a more in-depth look, head over to our blog post on the topic.

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How to care for a real Christmas tree

Here are a few helpful tips on how to care for your Christmas tree once you take it home. If you want to know more about looking after real Christmas trees, check out our helpful blog post.

  • Water your tree regularly.
    A proper tree stand will have a built-in watering compartment. You simply need to make sure it stays full at all times. Never let the water level drop below the trunk base. Freshly cut Christmas trees can consume up to a gallon of water a day!
  • Clean up any fallen needles.
    To protect your children and pets and keep your home looking clean, sweep up any needles that fall off your tree using a brush and dustpan. Don’t use a vacuum cleaner, as the sharp needles may damage the machine.
  • Keep the room temperature moderate.
    Heat is your live Christmas tree’s biggest enemy. Avoid cranking up the thermostat, as excessive heat can dry out your tree and it will begin to lose its needles. Keep the temperature moderate and place the conifer away from heat sources.

Recycling, reusing and disposing of a Christmas tree

Like all good things, the holiday season will come to an end. It’s time to think about what’s next for your Christmas tree. Here are some tips on how you can reuse, recycle or dispose of your tree.

  • Leave it to your council.
    The easy way to dispose of your Christmas tree is to leave it with your garden waste. If you don’t want to wait around for your council to come and pick up your green bin, you could book a Christmas tree disposal service to come and collect it at your convenience.
  • Give it to charity.
    There are some organisations that will gladly take your Christmas tree off your hands. Fortunately, there are numerous such groups in the UK, especially in London. If neither one comes to mind, just visit JustHelping to register your Christmas tree for collection.
  • Bring it to your local zoo.
    Check with a nearby zoo if they accept Christmas tree donations. There, they can be used as a big cat toy, for example.
  • Give it to a garden centre.
    Another option is to drop your tree off at a local garden centre. They will chop the tree up and use it as chippings throughout the year.
  • Replant it.
    If you have chosen a potted Christmas tree for the holidays, you can replant it in your garden to keep it alive and well until next December. If you want to know more about replanting a potted Christmas tree, check out this post by Mother Earth News.
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In need of Christmas tree delivery?

Not everyone has time to browse through countless Christmas trees all day. If this sounds like you, why not get your evergreen delivered?

Fantastic Services offers a Christmas tree delivery service this holiday season. Remove the difficult part from the equation and organise your tree delivery in just a few clicks! You can even get the stand delivered and your Christmas tree installed upon request. Don’t know what to do with the tree when the holidays are over? The Fantastic professionals can help you with that as well. We can handle the removal and disposal of your Christmas tree.

Looking for a Christmas tree?

Get a spectacular Nordmann Fir or Norway Spruce tree delivered to your doorstep!

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  • Make sure to measure your space before you buy your Christmas tree.
  • When you buy a Christmas tree will depend on when you plan on taking it down.
  • The best type of tree will depend on your needs and the conditions you have to accommodate it.
  • You need to provide your tree with some basic care to keep it fresh.
  • Real Christmas trees can be reused and recycled.


Did we miss anything? Do you have any additional tips on how to buy a real Christmas tree? Share them in the comments or give us a shout on social media!

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