Christmas is fast approaching, but there is still time to get that holiday tree.
Although artificial trees are the preference for some homes, with several u-cut tree farms and retail lots available in the Nanaimo area, many people prefer the seasonal scent of a real tree.
Some helpful holiday hints on how to choose, care for, decorate and discard your Christmas centrepiece can help make your tree the toast of the season.
With a range of tree types, your holiday home can incorporate one of several varieties of trees.
There are about 300,000 trees produced in B.C. by 450 farms, which supply about half of all Christmas trees in Alberta and Saskatchewan, according to the B.C. Christmas Tree Council.
From the Douglas Fir to the Norway Spruce, buyers can use tips to select their treasured tree.
Mike Gogo, who runs the GoGo Christmas Tree Farm in Nanaimo, is in his 49th year of the Christmas tree business, although the family farm has operated nearly 80 years. Some 50,000 trees are spread out on 160 acres.
Gogo grows several varieties of trees ripe for Christmas, including the Douglas, Noble and Fraser Fir and the Norway Spruce.
Gogo says he can distinguish the tree types by their scent alone.
Trees can range from two feet tall or tower at 12 feet.
"Some are taller and leaner, or wider and shorter," said Gogo.
Choosing a tree depends on the preference of the buyer, said Gogo.
An important first step for homeowners is to make sure they have carefully measured the size of the space that will accommodate a tree. Decorating decorum can also come into play when choosing a Christmas tree.
Some trees have thicker branchs, shorter needles or more open foliage.
Trees can last for several weeks once families take them home, but Gogo says one trick of the trade can allow the trees to tower gracefully until springtime. Cutting one inch off of the tree stump "just before" the tree is put into the stand -- with water -- will allow the trees to stand tall for several months, said Gogo.
The tree farm trees are fertilized and can still receive nourishment after being cut.
Sawing off another inch immediately before planting the tree in the stand cuts off the "scab" on the stump, said Gogo.
Gogo trees can also be found at a retail lot along Pryde Avenue.
From strands of lights to popcorn, some people get creative when decorating their trees.
While lights, tinsel and ornaments can make the branches shine, safety officials warn homeowners to keep some decorating tips in mind.
Experts encourage choosing flame-retardent decorations and to not use metallic ornaments on your tree.
The metal can become a shock hazard if the ornaments touch defective wiring, warns the Canada Safety Council.
Positioning a tree away from any heat source, such as a furnace or fireplace, and not decorating with candles also lessens any potential fire hazard.
Decorators should also inspect the strings of holiday lights, checking for cracked bulbs or fraying wires, before hanging them around the tree.
When homeowners are finished enjoying their Christmas tree, instead of dumping it in a landfill, there are several charitable organizations that recycle trees. In comparison, artificial trees can have lead and other chemicals and cannot be recycled.
For information, check out www.bcchristmastrees.com.
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