Tree trek: Top tips for finding, cutting and bringing home your family’s holiday tree

(BPT) - The holidays have arrived, and families and friends are returning to favorite pastimes as they celebrate together. Whether you’re looking for evergreen branches to decorate your home or the big tree itself, accomplishing your decorating goals together can become your next great holiday tradition.

Fortunately, picking the right tree and other natural decor is easier (and more sustainable) than you think. With these tips from everyday adventure brand BFGoodrich® Tires, you’ll find the holiday expedition to be as fun and festive as the finished product. So, get out there! Enjoy nature and get ready to spruce up your home for a holiday season to remember.

Be prepared; with a little planning, you can ensure your outing is exciting and safe.

  • Don't go too early. Most trees only hold their needles around three weeks, so don’t cut too early if you want your tree to look great through New Year's.
  • Research the area to know whether a permit is required, and if there are specific times for cutting. Permits are usually available for a small fee from your local forest service. If you follow local laws and guidelines, cutting your own tree can be a positive for the environment, with less competition for water, sunlight and nutrients so remaining trees can thrive.
  • You can choose to visit a Christmas tree farm which may offer fun holiday activities for families.
  • Confirm what tools you can use. In some areas, chainsaws are not permitted. Lighter saws meant for cutting live trees are best. Some Christmas tree farms may lend them.
  • Pack the right gear. Anyone chopping needs protective work gloves, and everyone should wear goggles to protect eyes from flying debris.
  • Be sure your vehicle is up for the job — and you have the right tires to get you from your driveway into the great outdoors and back. BFGoodrich tires are built to power through mud and loose soil to get you to that one special tree without harming or ripping up the terrain. The new BFGoodrich® Trail-Terrain T/A® tire is designed for all seasons, including severe snow conditions. Optimized for soft-soil traction while resisting chipping and tearing on light gravel roads, the Trail-Terrain T/A is perfect for a family trip to the woods!
  • Decide how you’ll transport your tree. If you’re putting it on top of your car, bring ropes or bungees. If you’re putting it inside your vehicle, bring a large tarp or blanket.

You’ve found the perfect tree … now what?

Before cutting, make sure the tree works for your home (and vehicle).

  • Measure the tree to ensure it'll fit in your car, your home space and through doorways or hallways.
  • Check for freshness. Run an outer branch through your hand and gently bend. If needles come off easily or the branch feels brittle, the tree is too dry and won’t last long.
  • Doublecheck you're allowed to cut THAT tree. Most areas have regulations based on tree size. It is usually determined by the diameter of the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure there are no critters living in the tree that you might accidentally harm or displace.
  • Cut the tree as low to the ground as possible. A low cut enables a new tree to form from the stump.
  • Use teamwork. Once you start cutting, have an adult or responsible teenager pull the tree slightly from the opposite side to help keep your blade from sticking. Once the tree starts to lean, cut all the way through. Don’t push it over, or the trunk may splinter.
  • Give the tree a good shake once it is down, to evict bugs or spiders.
  • Face the stump forward if tethering the tree to the top of your car, to prevent wind damage on the ride home. Thread the rope through branches to stabilize the trunk.

Bring it home.

You're ready to bring your tree inside! Follow these steps to help your tree last longer.

  • Trim an inch off the bottom to enable the tree to draw water — and get it into water as soon as possible.
  • Use room-temperature water daily. If the water’s too cold, it can shock the tree.
  • Keep the tree safe. Don’t place it near heating vents, radiators or other heat sources, which will dry it out faster. Place the tree near or against an outside wall and/or window where it's usually cooler.

Decorate your holiday greenery to your liking and enjoy the beautiful outcome of your rugged handiwork throughout the season! When the holidays conclude, give your tree to one of the many recycling programs across the country.