Choosing the right tree: Artificial vs. natural vs. live

Homeowners who prefer a natural Christmas tree have a new home to shop for this season.

This year, the Yuletide festivities of Christmas will be welcomed into the backyard — and then sent into the greenest of cities— with Tree People, The Nature Store and The Tree Wholesale Collective, among others. In all, 12 natural Christmas tree farms were hired to offer 2,000 seasonal trees in New York and Philadelphia. New Jersey prides itself on having a robust natural Christmas tree industry, and this year its organic growers are extending their services into New York City.

Christmas tree selection

What’s the score: Artificial versus natural?

If you’re desperate for a little more color and greenery around the house, there are a number of options. The buying curve is quite different depending on your budget and the age of your tree.

What are the options: Stump vs. rotted tree?

For those too busy to wait until that first frost and the winter growing season has come to an end, a stump is a great solution to the lackluster bulb of an artificial tree — if you don’t have a tree that’s 10-plus years old. The problem is that you’ll need to haul the rotten tree across town, which might be a nightmare for families with young children.

Preparation time

What’s the best option?

Christmas tree farm: You arrive at the Garden State Christmas Tree Farm near Woodstown, New Jersey, which prides itself on its natural selection (including more than 10 varieties). Check the guide on the farm’s website for its recommended growing season for the ideal Christmas tree. Click here.

Overground tree farm: Hop behind the wheel of a moving car and visit the Nature Store’s Shepardson Christmas Tree Farm, in Steubenville, New York. The store offers tours and stocking stuffers in addition to the trees. Click here.

Real tree: As unusual as it sounds, real trees have become popular over the past few years. The forest blowers at this New Jersey estate turn a handful of pre-pruned, natural trees into a brilliant spectacle. Click here.

Process of selection

Process of cutting a live tree

Once you determine what you’re looking for in a tree, its actual selection becomes the most critical part of the whole process. Find the tree you want, find the perfect angle and arrangement, then avoid the common mistakes — such as having it too close to a heater, near a radiator or closer to an electrical outlet than a working door handle.

As a general rule, the shorter the tree, the wider the storage area.

A tree begins to wilt within two years and can fall to the ground within 12 to 24 hours. Store your tree on a tarp, and use plastic bags to stem and defend against pests.

Tree wood

Fruits, nuts and leaves from Christmas trees can create a surprisingly healthy forest for a tree farm. A heritage tree farm provides something for everyone to enjoy, from year-round greenhouses to delicious root vegetables and fruits that can be used to spice up meals or add depth to salads. Read more about heritage Christmas trees on

Find a tree farm in your area by calling 800-632-3337.

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