Buying Guide

Best Real Christmas Trees for You

Environmental Benefits of Live Christmas Trees

Live Christmas trees are a renewable resource, with hundreds of thousands of acres dedicated to their growth. Christmas tree farms raise and harvest different varieties of trees, virtually eliminating the harvesting of trees in the wild, which can deplete valuable forests.

The average tree takes approximately seven years to reach maturity, and for every tree that is harvested, anywhere from one to three more seedlings are planted. Learn more about the benefits of real verses artificial Christmas trees with our guide.

Recycling programs located in most communities turn your used tree into useful mulch. Many Home Depot locations across the country offer Christmas tree recycling free of charge. Call your local Home Depot store to find out if they are participating. If not, Earth911 offers a handy search tool to locate Christmas tree recycling options near you. Most of these tree recycling programs turn spent holiday trees into beneficial mulch, but that’s not the only way that Christmas trees are being recycled around the country. In some areas, recycled trees are being used to create habitats for fish and other aquatic life in local ponds and lakes, as well as helping to slow erosion.

Find and Measure an Area to Display Your Tree

When choosing the location for your live Christmas tree, select a spot that is cool and free from drafts. Also double-check that the tree is located away from heat sources such as vents, fireplaces or appliances to help the tree retain moisture and remain healthy.

Once you’ve determined your ideal Christmas tree location, measure the available height and width of the area. Measure your chosen area before buying your tree to ensure that you select one that fits.

Remember when shopping: the taller the tree, the larger the base.

Allow an appropriate amount of space between the tree and the ceiling for a Christmas tree topper.

Once you've found the perfect spot to put your tree, it's time for Christmas tree shopping!

Different Types of Christmas Trees

Choose between different varieties of pine, fir and spruce Christmas trees. This table will walk you through the most common types of Christmas trees and their advantages.

Safety: It is not safe for cats or dogs to eat pine needles or drink Christmas tree water. Monitor your pets closely and cover the tree stands to ensure their safety.

Balsam Fir
Balsam - Live Christmas Trees
  • Dark green
  • Pyramidal shape with spire-like tip


  • ¾ - 1 ½-inch needles 
  • Strong fragrance 
  • Good needle retention 
  • Will last longer than other varieties
Black Hills Spruce
Black Hills - Live Christmas Trees
  • Dark green
  • Symmetrical shape with a conical crown


  • ½ - ¾-inch needles 
  • Dense, full-coverage foliage 
  • Sturdy branches can hold heavier ornaments 
  • Fair needle retention 
  • Work well in small spaces
Colorado Blue Spruce
Colorado - Live Christmas Trees
  • Dark blue-gray to silvery blue
  • Pyramidal shape with conical crown


  • 1 – 1 ½-inch needles 
  • Symmetrical form 
  • Excellent needle retention 
  • Popular Christmas tree type for living trees and landscaping 
  • Works well in small spaces 
  • Will last longer than other varieties 
  • Pleasant fragrance
Douglas Fir
Douglas - Live Christmas Trees
  • Dark or blue green
  • Pyramidal 


  • 1 – 1 ½-inch needles 
  • Sweet, subtle scent 
  • Commonly available 
  • Long-lasting needle
Eastern White Pine
Eastern pine - Live Christmas Trees
  • Blue green to silver green
  • Conical


  • 2 ½ - 5-inch needles 
  • Little or no fragrance 
  • May be better for allergy sufferers 
  • Soft, flexible needles 
  • Not ideal for heavy ornaments 
  • Better for people with severe allergies
Fraser Fir
Fraser - Live Christmas Trees
  • Dark green
  • Pyramidal 


  • ½ - 1-inch needles 
  • Strong branches ideal for heavy ornaments 
  • Excellent needle retention 
  • Fresh fragrance
Grand Fir
Grand - Live Christmas Trees
  • Dark green
  • Symmetrical shape with rounded crown


  • 1 – 1 ½-inch needles 
  • Strong fragrance 
  • Needles have a glossy appearance
Noble Fir
Noble - Live Christmas Trees
  • Blue-gray with silver appearance
  • Pyramidal shape with upturned needles


  • 1-inch needles 
  • Long-lasting needle life 
  • Stiff branches are well-suited for heavier ornaments 
  • Pleasing aroma 
  • Often used to create swags, garlands and wreaths
Norway Spruce
Norway - Live Christmas Trees
  • Dark green
  • Triangular


  • ½ - 1-inch needles 
  • Soft, subtle scent 
  • Fair needle retention
Scotch Pine
Scotch - Live Christmas Trees
  • Ranges from bright greens to blue greens
  • Conical


  • 1 – 3-inch needles 
  • Stiff, sturdy branches for supporting heavy decorations 
  • Lasting aroma 
  • Excellent needle retention
White/Concolor Fir
White Fir - Live Christmas Trees
  • Blue green
  • Pyramidal


  • 1 ½ - 3-inch needles 
  • Releases pleasing citrus aroma when needles are crushed 
  • Good needle retention
White Spruce
White Spruce - Live Christmas Trees
  • Green or blue green
  • Symmetrical shape with a conical crown


  • ½ - ¾-inch needles 
  • Dense, full-coverage foliage 
  • Sturdy branches can hold heavier ornaments 
  • Crushed needles release an unpleasant odor 
  • Fair needle retention
How to Select the Best Christmas Tree

When selecting your tree, look for one with a bright, vibrant color. Because fresh-cut trees have a limited life, purchase one that was recently harvested. Fresh-cut trees usually last between four and six weeks, so be careful not to purchase too early; sometime around Thanksgiving is ideal.  

Upon purchase, The Home Depot will cut the bottom inch or two off of your tree's trunk in order to improve water absorption once you arrive home. Put your newly-cut tree in water within one hour of cutting the trunk.

Selection Tips     

  • Needles that look dull and listless can indicate dryness or age. 
  • Shake the tree and observe how many needles it sheds. While some needle loss is normal on any tree, it should retain the vast majority of its needles. 
  • Withered bark on the outer twigs and branches indicates excessive dryness. 
  • Fir needles that are fresh and well-hydrated snap crisply when bent. 
  • Inspect fresh-cut trees for the presence of insects and other pests. 
  • If you tend to hang heavy ornaments, lightly pull on the tree branches to test their strength. 
  • Be sure to select a tree that can fit into your stand. Stands should have a minimum capacity of one quart of water for every inch of trunk diameter.
How to Care for Your Tree

Keeping your tree hydrated is the key to maintaining a healthy, vibrant tree throughout the holiday season. Trees can consume as much as a gallon or more of water per day, depending on the type and size of the tree. Make sure your stand has enough depth to keep the base of the trunk submerged in water at all times.  

Learn more about how to care for your live Christmas tree in our how-to guide.  

  • Check water daily and make sure that the base of the tree is always covered. 
  • Water your tree using plain tap water with no additives for best results. 
  • Living Christmas trees (trees with root systems) should only be located indoors for between three and 10 days. 
  • If you live in a cold climate, before bringing the tree indoors let it rest in a cool part of the home like a garage. The same is true of returning it to the yard. 
  • Recycle your tree at the end of the season through your local community program.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips and Accessories

When it comes to fire safety, the most important thing to know is that a well-hydrated tree provides natural protection against fire hazards. To keep you and your family safe during the holidays, you should water your tree every day, without exception.  

Christmas tree watering systems keep your fresh-cut tree thriving all season long by delivering a constant supply of water straight to the base of your tree.

  • Using smaller, less heat-intensive Christmas tree lights, such a mini lights or LEDs, will reduce drying. 
  • Always inspect electrical and light cords for damage or wear before hanging them and discard defective ones immediately. 
  • Use only UL-listed lighting, which has been tested by an independent agency. 
  • Always unplug and turn off lights when leaving the house or going to bed, or use an automatic timer to turn lights off and on. 
  • When hanging large Christmas tree ornaments on the tree, check to make sure the branch doesn't significantly droop under the weight. 
  • Take extra precautions to ensure your tree will not be easily toppled. 
  • Clean pine needles on a regular basis, especially if you have children or pets in the house. Christmas tree skirts can help contain pine needles and create a seasonal backdrop for gifts under the tree while tree bags can be used to easily dispose of your tree without scattering needles, branches and other debris.
Shop The Home Depot’s Christmas Tree Lot

Stop by your local Home Depot to shop our selection of Christmas décor and pick out a tree from our real Christmas tree lot. Each freshly cut tree purchased from The Home Depot is harvested with care and replaced with a new seedling in the spring.   

When you shop at The Home Depot Christmas tree lot, an associate will prep, net and load the tree onto your car, so all you have to worry about is how to decorate it. Use our How to Decorate a Christmas Tree guide for inspiration. Once you find the perfect tree, head inside to find all the Christmas lightsornaments and garland you need to trim the tree and deck the halls.