Harvesting Christmas Trees – When’s The Best Time To Cut A Christmas Tree

christmas tree cutting
Image by rmcguirk

By Karen Boness, Owner of Wild Willow Landscape Design, ISA Certified Arborist, Certified Permaculture Designer

Harvesting Christmas trees in the wild used to be the only way people obtained trees for the holidays. But that tradition has faded. Only 16% of us cut our own trees nowadays. This drop in harvesting Christmas trees is probably due to the fact that most people live in cities and don’t have easy access or the time to go to forests or lots where you can legally harvest Christmas trees.

That being said, if you want a little adventure and some fresh air, then cutting your own Christmas tree can be a lot of fun. You can either go to a Christmas tree farm where they provide the saws and nicely groomed trees or you can venture out into the woods to find your own. Check with a forest ranger ahead of time if you plan to go tree hunting in the wild. You may need a permit and it is a good idea to find out about snow and road conditions beforehand.

Tips on Cutting Your Own Christmas Tree


So when’s the best time to cut a Christmas tree? The best time for cutting your own Christmas tree is between late November and mid-December. Note that the average time a well-watered cut tree holds its needles is three to four weeks.

If you are out in the forest, look for a relatively small Christmas tree (from 5’ to 9’) near nicely shaped large trees that are also positioned near clearings and open spaces. Small trees need plenty of sunlight to form a symmetrical shape.

If you go to a Christmas tree farm, they will tell you that cutting our own Christmas tree low to the ground is best. This will allow the tree to re-sprout a central leader to form another Christmas tree for the future. It takes an average of 8-9 years for a Christmas tree to grow.

Use a lightweight saw that is meant for cutting live trees. Wear sturdy boots that protect your feet and good, heavy-duty work gloves. Proceed slowly and carefully. Once the tree starts to lean over, finish your saw cuts quickly. Don’t push the tree over. That can cause the bark to rip and splinter. It is best to have an assistant support the tree as you are cutting.

Have fun and be safe out there cutting your own Christmas tree! All that’s left now is providing optimal care for your newly cut Christmas tree.

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