How to choose your Christmas tree

With the countdown to Christmas on, our attention turns to getting the house ready for the big day with choosing your tree and decorating the house. But which one do you choose? With so many varieties on the market, we’ve enlisted the help of premier Christmas tree growers, Pines and Needles to share their top tips.

Sam Lyle started his Christmas Tree business with his brother Josh in the late nineties, delivering trees across London from the premises of a dry cleaners owned by another brother, Jake. Working from out the back of a van was intrepid and muscle sapping work. Years later with two established Christmas Tree farms in Scotland, Pines and Needles now sells over 60,000 Christmas Trees each year, all over the UK and from pop-up stores across London. They have even supplied Royalty delivering a tree last year to Prince Harry and Meghan.

When to buy your Christmas tree

For us the Christmas season starts as early as September. People really do think that far ahead but the most popular time undoubtedly is the first week of December followed by the week after. This means any tree that you buy may have to last over a month, if you only take it down on Twelfth Night (6th of January). If you buy in early December you are unlikely to be disappointed.

Choosing the right Christmas tree

We are often asked about what type of tree we recommend, what’s best for outdoor and indoors and why that may be. We essentially have two types of tree:

  • Norway Spruce trees have smaller, finer needles and resonate with the traditional idea of Christmas established during the Victorian era. These are lovely trees and have a beautiful scent and deep green colour, but they do tend to drop their needles more eagerly especially in a centrally heated house.
  • Our Nordmann Fir trees are a subtler shade of green. Needle retention is also much better, so much so that we refer to them as ‘non-drop.’ Larger, softer needles are also more child and pet friendly. You can use either tree indoors or out but we tend to recommend Norway Spruce for outdoors and Nordmann Fir for indoors.

Whichever tree you choose just make sure it is the centrepiece of your celebrations. This year for the first time we decided not to sell artificial trees. Demand has been falling year on year and people have become increasingly worried by the problems caused by plastic. We run a sustainable business, carbon neutral by our estimates, so this was an easy decision.

Christmas tree size

When it comes to size we specify trees of both types from 3ft to 12ft. We also accommodate special orders for larger trees when the space demands. There really is a huge choice. Of course, your own space is important and it is largely a matter of judgement and taste but in London we offer our own delivery, installation and decoration service so if you are not sure you can simply leave it to us. A lot of our customers in London, come along to one of our pop-up stores, bring the kids and make the choice of tree and decorations a family decision. It is very popular.

Caring for your Christmas tree

Tree care is often forgotten and there is a lot you can do to make your tree last. Our trees are freshly cut so they are still essentially living, breathing and also drinking, and sometimes up to 3 pints a day!

Just before you install your tree, saw off the bottom 1” (3cm) of the trunk. This creates a fresh cut and opens up the pores in the bark, which otherwise can block up with sap within a few hours of being cut. The tree is then able to drink water through these pores via capillary action. We do this to all our trees so customers don’t have to.  Always place the tree in a water holding stand and replenish the water at regular intervals.

A tree will also respond to major changes in temperature so it is best to keep it away from a heat source such as a radiator or fire place and position it somewhere where conditions are likely to stay constant.

Decorating your Christmas tree

Decorating a tree is great fun, but can also be quite traumatic for some which is why we offer colour coordinated decoration sets and in London our own delivery, installation and decoration service.

Whatever you decide when it comes to decorating your tree two people are often better than one especially for the tinsel and lights. Lights go on first and it’s great if one person can feed them to the other as they wind it round and round, starting at the bottom. Embed the lights in the lush greenery and then move out as you go up. The heavier the decorations the more you’ll need to keep them away from the tips of the branches. 

Everyone has a different way of decorating but themes work well, whether it’s a single colour, a mixed colour palette or a certain style, less can very often mean more! Some will choose Victorian wooden decorations, dried fruit, and pine cones others will choose single or multicoloured coloured baubles. Tinsel once so popular is less so these days and ribbon is currently in vogue. Make sure you work horizontally rather than at an angle – it’s produces a much cleaner look.

Christmas tree lights

Wherever possible we encourage the use of power-saving LED lights as these use a fraction of the energy of incandescent bulbs. They are available in ice or warm white and multicoloured with switchable multi-action programs, always on, flashing or sequenced to suit the occasion. Lights used to be limited to the tree but now most people want to add sparkle around the home and quite often outside too. They are available in many different lengths with hundreds of bulbs and some with more than a thousand, so you can really go to town.

Disposing of your Christmas tree

Just when the Christmas festivities are over and returning to work looms, probably the last thing people want to do is take down the tree. While many local authorities offer a Christmas Tree disposal service you still have to remove the lights, undress the tree and put it out for collection. In London we offer a disposal service second to none. Not only can we remove your tree and ensure that it is properly recycled but we can also undress it. We will take all of the decorations off the tree, safely wrap them in tissue, package them in boxes, undress the lights, stow them, clean up all the fallen needles and then take the tree away to be recycled.

Feeling festive? Head on over to Pines and Needles to see how you can make your Christmas extra special.