Christmas trees now dominate the garden center at Lavender Mountain Hardware. / Photo contributed

It’s that time of year again, when everyone is decking the halls and getting ready for the holidays. Some of you by now have already selected the perfect tree, but for those who haven’t here’s some tips on finding just the right fit for your home and how to care for it once it’s in the living room adorned with lights:

Selecting a tree

Keep these points in mind when choosing your fresh Christmas tree.

• Check the height of the ceiling in the room where you will display your tree. Select a tree that is at least one foot shorter than the ceiling height.

• Needles should be pliable and adhere to the branches. Run your fingers over the branch along the needles. They should bend, not break or fall off.

• Shake or bounce the tree to be sure that all needles are firmly attached. If the tree is fresh, few needles should fall. Some loss of old needles inside the tree is common.

• Avoid trees that have a wilted look.

• Make sure the handle of the tree is straight. The handle must be six to eight inches long to allow placement in the tree stand.

• Check for insects and dead needles inside the tree crown. Have dead needles shaken or blown out when you buy the tree.

Caring for the tree in the home

• If you don’t plan to put the tree up right away, cut one inch off of the base, put the tree in a bucket of water and stand in a shady place.

• When you bring the tree indoors, cut ½ to 1 inch off of the base of the trunk and place in a tree stand that holds at least one gallon of water.

• Don’t place the tree near a fireplace, heater vents, or other heat source.

• ALWAYS keep the tree well-supplied with water. CHECK the water level in the stand SEVERAL TIMES EACH DAY. Tree may use several quarts of water a day.

• NEVER let the water level fall below the base of the tree. If this occurs, the cut end can seal over preventing further water uptake. The tree will have to be taken down and a fresh cut made at the base to allow water uptake.

• Adding aspirin, soda water, bleach, sugar, etc., to the water in the tree stand is no more effective in keeping the tree fresh as adding plain water each day.

Fire proofing Christmas trees

• The best way to keep a tree fresh and fire resistant is to ALWAYS keep it supplied with water.

• A fresh tree that is kept supplied with water presents little fire hazard. As long as the tree takes up water, and does not wilt, it will be relatively fire resistant.

• DO NOT allow the water level in the tree stand to fall below the base of the tree at any time.

• Fire Marshall approved treatments are available which can be sprayed on trees to reduce flammability. These may contain borax or other flame retardants. Check with the salesperson when you purchase your tree, or with the fire department for specific fire-retardant treatments.

• Use only UL approved lights and nonflammable decorations.

• Never leave home or go to bed with the Christmas tree lights on.

Insect problems

Aphids and other insects can enter the home on Christmas trees and emerge in the warm house.

• Inspect the tree before bringing it indoors. Shake and bounce the tree on the pavement to dislodge insects and trash.

• If you find insects, spray the tree with an indoor-outdoor aerosol insecticide containing pyrethrins before bringing the tree inside. These spray-can insecticides are available at grocery and discount stores.

• If insects show up after the tree is in the house (look for sticky drops on carpet and presents) cover the area under the tree and spray the tree with an indoor-outdoor aerosol insecticide containing pyrethrins. Be sure to FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS when using any insecticide.