As the weather in the Santa Clarita Valley begins to cool, it’s finally time to get into the holiday spirit.
It’s become a tradition for many to start decorating for Christmas after Thanksgiving passes, which means it’s also time to choose a Christmas tree.
Here in the SCV, local Christmas tree sellers have already been preparing for months, choosing the best trees for their customers.
Bennett’s Best has opened their lots in Saugus and Valencia, with four kinds of trees available this year.
“People are anxious to get their trees up, and we’ve had an increase in calls this year, so we’re expecting to do as good as last year or better,” Doug Bennett said.
But before heading out to the Christmas tree lot, there’s a few things to consider in order to pick the perfect tree for you and your family.
How to know you’re getting a fresh one
“You want the needles to bend,” Bennett said. “Grab a branch, and bend a needle on the tree. It should bend without snapping, which guarantees you’re getting a fresh tree.”
Bennett suggests people look to ensure the needles on the tree aren’t already falling off, as too many fallen needles while it’s still on display in the lot is actually a sign of an unhealthy tree.
People should also remember to measure their home carefully, including both the height and width of the space available, before heading out to purchase a tree.
Skip the department store
Nancy Roatcap, owner of Nancy’s Ranch, remembers her father planting Christmas trees in the SCV years ago.
“My dad planted Christmas trees out here in 1978, and we had our first sale in 1980,” she said. “I got so many requests for Noble firs and the trees that do grow up in Washington that I started ordering those in, and at a certain point, they got (more popular) than the cut-your-own trees.”
Even so, she continued working with a smaller supplier who picks the best fresh trees, delivering them from Washington each year since 1999.
Every year, she gets about a half-dozen different types, as she says everyone’s different and likes different styles of trees.
“Some people like really full, tight trees, and other people like open, natural trees,” she explained.
Bennett’s trees are also being delivered, fresh from Oregon, and have been for more than a decade.
“They’ll cut the tree right before it’s scheduled to ship,” Bennett said. “I buy from small growers to get that kind of service.”
Department stores typically don’t have that luxury, and often cut their trees a month or two ahead of time due to the large number of trees they need, the local sellers agreed.
Consider getting a live tree
While Green Thumb Nursery and Garden Center also imports cut trees from Washington each year, they also sell live trees, which come as little as a foot tall to as big as a regular Christmas tree.
“These days, people are much more interested in buying a live tree they can plant in the yard after Christmas and watch it grow rather than getting a tree that’s been harvested,” Green Thumb’s chief horticulturist John Windsor said. “It’s becoming more and more popular every year.”
Windsor himself purchased a live tree when his children were born, watching the tree mature as his children did.
“It was a wonderful thing,” Windsor added. “The advantage of a tree like this is it’s very slow growing, so you can enjoy it for many years.”
Most who go this route prefer getting trees that look just like a traditional Christmas tree, which is why many of the live trees for sale are actually the same type of tree that they’ll be selling cut, Windsor added.
Windsor suggests those who are planning on planting their live tree in their yard after Christmas choose a variety that does well in the Santa Clarita climate.
Donate your tree after Christmas
If you choose to get a live tree, you can donate them to TreePeople at Coldwater Canyon, who then plant them across the county’s mountains so they can grow in their natural habitat.
For cut trees, the city of Santa Clarita offers free curbside Christmas tree recycling every year from Dec. 26 to the second Saturday in January, allowing residents to help the environment and keep their trees out of landfills.
The trees recycled are then turned into mulch to be used as soil amendment, compost or bagged for mulch to be given away every spring at the Arbor Day and Earth Day celebrations, according to the city.
Single-family residents should place their trees at the curb on their regular collection day during the two weeks following Christmas, while multi-family residents can place their trees adjacent to the refuse bins in their complex.
Don’t wait too long
Bennett suggests those looking to purchase a tree not wait too long, as there aren’t as many available as usual.
“With all the fires up in Oregon, it burned a lot of the supply of trees,” Bennett added.
Roatcap agreed, adding, “I’ve been hearing from people who’ve had fake trees saying they’re going to get a live tree this year.”
For more information on TreePeople, visit treepeople.org. Bennett’s Best is located at 27000 Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus and 24910 Valencia Blvd. in Valencia. For more information, call 661-383-6354 or 661-505-3266 or visit bennettsbest.net. Nancy’s Ranch is located at 25039 Magic Mountain Parkway in Valencia. For more information, call 661-255-6943 or visit nancysranch.com. Green Thumb is located at 23734 Newhall Ave. in Newhall. For more information, call 661-259-1071 or visit greenthumb.com.