How to choose a real Christmas tree


Christmas tree buying advice


Where to put your Christmas tree

  • Careful planning is essential in helping to choose the right Christmas tree for you and your home.
  • First, decide where you want to put your tree. The location you choose should be away from heat sources such as radiators and open fires and ideally close to a plug wall socket if you will be having lights on your tree.
  • Corners can be a good place as this keeps your tree out of the way of knocks and bumps and allows you to choose the best side of the Christmas tree to display.


Living room shot


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Measuring up the space

  • Once you've chosen a location, measure up the space you have available and note down the dimensions. Remember your tree stand will normally raise your tree 6 inches (15cm) above the floor level, so factor this in when deciding what height of trees to opt for. Estimating a tree's size by eye is very difficult and forgetting to allow for the extra height added by your favourite angel or star for the top of the tree is another common mistake.
  • Avoid the temptation of choosing a tree that's taller than what you really need as you'll just end up having to cut off part of the base and potentially remove some of the lower branches, which may spoil the shape of your tree.


Measuring up for your Christmas tree


  • A tree with a really broad base is ideal for putting lots of presents under but may become obtrusive in smaller rooms or hallways. Whilst Christmas tree branches are quite flexible in folding upwards, squashing one side of your tree too far into a wall or corner will result in your tree being unstable.
  • If you're looking to visit a nursery to choose your tree, don't forget to take the tape measure with you so you can check your preferred tree is actually the right fit. We recommend wearing gloves and long sleeves when handling Christmas trees to avoid getting pricked by the needles, particularly for Spruce varieties.
  • Alternatively, if you are looking to order a Christmas tree online for delivery from our Staffordshire nursery, include the measurements in the comments when you place the order and we'll pick the perfect tree for you.


Christmas tree in stand


Finding a Christmas tree to suit you

  • If you want to put up your Christmas tree in the home more than 3 weeks before Christmas, opt for a low needle drop Nordmann Fir. Unless you care for your Christmas tree perfectly and sacrifice your comfort by keeping the temperature in the room where your Christmas tree resides low, a Norway Spruce will naturally start dropping larger volumes of needles after 3 weeks.
  • If having a traditional Christmas tree coniferous fragrance is your top priority, you'll need to opt for a Spruce tree such as the Norway Spruce and buy your tree in mid to late December to prevent it dropping excessive amounts of needles.
  • If you want coniferous fragrance but really need to set up your Christmas tree in the home in the first week of December a Serbian Spruce tree is a good middle ground. Following our Christmas tree care steps carefully from the day you buy your tree will save you time tidying up fallen needles later in the festive season.
  • If you have pets or young children in the home that may be hurt by sharp needles it may be best to avoid the Norway Spruce which has narrower more pointed needles. The Nordmann Fir has softer, rounded needles that bend more easily. Once again, the Serbian Spruce falls somewhere in between and can be a good middle ground.


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Please see below for more information on the four main types of Christmas trees we sell:


1)      Nordmann Fir - the most popular type of tree in the UK with thick, soft, glossy needles that are dark green on the top and blue-green on the underside. Renowned for holding onto its needles the best of all Christmas trees, so you won't need to worry about cleaning up needles over the festive period, particularly if you want to install your tree in early December. The Nordman Fir is an unscented tree with a wide base to accommodate lots of presents and its soft needles makes it child and pet friendly.


Nordman Fir Christmas Tree

2)      Norway Spruce - the traditional Christmas tree with short and thin, generally lighter green pointed needles. It has a broad base but with a more triangular shape and attractive red-brown bark and a bushy habit. The Norway has a rich, coniferous fragrance and is the best value for any given height or size of tree. Needle retention is weaker than the Nordman Fir but can be minimised by placing your tree well away from radiators and other sources of heat and keeping it in plenty of fresh water.


Norway Spruce Christmas Tree

3)      Serbian Spruce - one of the newer types of Christmas tree on the market with a more slender shape, perfect for porches, corridors and smaller homes. Similar to the Norway Spruce but with soft, flatter blue-tinged needles which are almost white on the undersides. The branches are slightly drooping yet well spaced with sprays pointing upwards at the ends. Needle retention is better than the Norway Spruce but not as good as the Nordman Fir. It boasts a pleasant, strong fragrance and works well with a simple scheme of plain lights.


Serbian Spruce Christmas Tree

4)      Alberta White Spruce - the Alberta is a lovely, compact, slow growing conifer which makes the perfect mini Christmas tree with dense branches and a bluey hue. It's conical form makes it ideal as a large table top or windowsill tree. We supply Alberta Spruce trees pot grown so you can plant your tree in a sunny spot outdoors after Christmas where it will combine well with winter flowering heathers and small spring bulbs. It will produce fresh green needles in the spring which mature to deep green over the year.


Alberta White Spruce Christmas Tree


Christmas tree selection


How to check the quality of Christmas trees

Christmas trees should be fresh when bought. There are a number of things you can check:


1)  Make sure the needles are bright and shiny, not dry, dull, browning or withering, particularly if buying in mid to late December. Colouration of the needles should be even across the tree; any grey sections are a sign of dehydration.


Fresh needles on a Christmas tree 


2) Outer branches should be flexible when bent gently upwards. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry. Think about the decorations you will be using, such as ornaments and strings of lights, and consider whether the branches feel sturdy enough to hold them.


Bending in outer branches of Christmas tree 


3) Give your chosen Christmas tree a shake to see how many needles fall to the floor. Some loss of internal needles is a normal part of the life cycle of a conifer and occurs because the tree is preparing itself for winter but needles on the outer part of the tree should not fall off.


Shake the tree


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4) Drop the tree onto its base from 1 foot (30cm) above the ground. There should not be excessive loss of needles particularly at the ends of branches on healthy trees.


Shake the tree again


5) Run your hand along a couple of the branches, starting at the trunk and ideally wearing gloves for protection. If you find yourself with a handful of needles it's started shedding excessively already and should be avoided.


Running hand along branches of Christmas tree 


6) If choosing your own tree from a nursery, bend a needle between your thumb and forefinger. It should form a "U" shape without breaking, unless the needles are frozen.


Christmas tree needle forming a U when bent



7) Compare the weights of different trees of the same size and branch density. Trees that are heavier are healthier because it shows the tree was cut more recently. After the tree is cut, it no longer produces sap and will gradually get lighter from that point, even if put in water.



Smell the tree


8) Check the smell of your tree. Healthy spruce trees will have a rich coniferous fragrance whilst Nordmann Firs don't have much of a scent. A musty odour from either type of tree is a bad sign.


9) Shape, size and style of tree are personal preference but it's generally recognised that bushier trees with a wide base and straight central stem or "leader" are more preferable.


Check which size


10) Make sure the diameter of the trunk will fit into your tree stand, ideally without lopping chunks off the side of the trunk which is not ideal for the health of your tree.


Checking trunk fits into tree stand


11) Ask the retailer whether they grow their own trees or buy them from elsewhere and if bought in when they are delivered. At Jackson's our trees are grown on site and cut or dug fresh over the festive season.


Sawing down Christmas tree


Contact Us for Advice

We know choosing the right Christmas tree can be a bit confusing at times, so we're here to help. Feel free to contact us at or on 01782 502741 Monday to Friday 8am to 4:30pm if you have any questions.


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