Cutting Down Your Own Christmas Tree


"2 boys holding fur tree, while father cutting it with a saw"

by Lori Straus

The snow has fallen (and melted, and fallen, and melted—depending on where in Ontario you live). The time couldn’t be better for a winter drive to a Christmas tree farm or woodlot in your area. In this blog post, you’ll learn the dos and don’ts of cutting down a Christmas tree.

Before You Leave Home

Pine tree attached to top of car for transport

Before you leave your home to drive to a Christmas tree farm near you, measure the space you have for a tree and note it on your phone or a piece of paper. Also, make sure your vehicle is appropriate to the size of your dream tree. For example, if you’re searching for a 10-ft tree, a truck makes much more sense than a compact.

If you’re going to cut your tree down at a tree farm, call ahead or check their website for anything you need to bring.

Next, pack any other items you may need:

  • A piece of cardboard for you to lay on as you saw the tree
  • Tape measure or measuring stick
  • Ties and fasteners to attach the tree to your roof
  • Tarp or blanket(s) to protect the interior of your car if you’re going to transport the tree inside the vehicle
  • Gloves
  • Saw

Look for Your Perfect Christmas Tree

When you’ve found a tree that looks like it’ll fit in your home, measure it to make sure. You don’t want to waste effort cutting a tree that’s too big.

Next, run a closed hand along several outer branches. If the needles fall off, pass on that tree: it’s too dry.

Last, check for tenants. You don’t want to take feathered or six-legged friends home with you.

Cut the Christmas Tree

You need to cut the Christmas tree as close to the ground as possible. To help you stay dry, set the cardboard on the ground and lay down on top. This way, you can keep yourself from getting wet and mucky.

As you cut, have someone support the tree from the other side. Your assistant shouldn’t bend the tree, but tilting it slightly away from you will help the saw cut through the trunk easier.

Once you’ve cut down your Christmas tree, give the tree a vigorous shake to scare out any insects and other inhabitants you didn’t catch upon initial inspection. This will also loosen dead branches that haven’t fallen off yet. (The tree farm may do this mechanically for you, too.)

How to Transport a Real Christmas Tree

Young woman tying Christmas tree to roof of a car, close up

Let’s get one thing straight: do not ask your passengers to “anchor” the tree to your roof with their hands. Aside from the fact that this is illegal, it’s extremely dangerous.

Your tree should be wrapped up in rope, netting, or burlap—the tree farm can help you with this. If you cut your tree down in a woodlot, you’ll have to wrap your tree yourself.

Ideally, attach your tree to a roof rack. If that’s not possible, feed the twine/rope through the vehicle cabin with the doors open. (In other words, don’t thread your twine/rope through the windows.)

When you position the tree on your roof, make sure the stump is facing forward and the tip backward. Secure the tree with strong twine or rope at the front, back, and in the middle. Ensure each strand is separate, i.e., don’t use one continuous piece of twine or rope to fasten the tree to the vehicle.

Preparing the Tree at Home

Slice off about an inch from the trunk to expose freshly cut wood again. When you place the tree into its pot and stand, it’ll absorb water more easily. (Don’t use very cold water, though: you don’t want to shock the tree.) For an extra touch, lay a tree skirt around the stand’s base.

Ready for Decoration!

Your tree is now ready for you and your family’s decorating talents. But who said you need to start now? After all that work cutting down your Christms tree and transporting it home, everyone must be exhausted. We recommend enjoying a cup of hot chocolate first.

Happy decorating!

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