How to choose the perfect Christmas tree in the Black Hills area this holiday season

Ellsworth AFB received Christmas trees for families from the Trees for Troops program, Dec.1, 2017.

RAPID CITY, S.D. – As the holidays grow closer, buying a Christmas tree might be at the center of some people’s minds. Here are some things to know before, during and after getting a Christmas tree in South Dakota this holiday season.

Before you get a tree

  • Find a spot to put the tree
      • Make sure it is in a safe place away from heat sources like vents and windows, out of high traffic areas and in a place where no one will trip over the light cords.
    • Once you find the space, measure the ceiling height and the width of the space.
  • Prepare supplies
    • You should have heavy gloves to protect your hands when loading the tree and an old blanket to protect your car from pine needles and sap.
    • Twine or rope will be needed as well if you are tying it to your car.
    • Make sure you have a saw and bucket for when you get the tree home
    • You’ll also need a good tree stand, whether it’s one that you used in previous years or a new one you get.

Photos of Christmas Tress before and after being decorated:

While getting a tree

  • Bring a tape measure
    • Most Christmas tree farms have heights on tags, you can still bring your own.
    • Use to measure height, width and trunk diameter.
      • The trunk diameter insures it will fit and be tightened in a stand.
  • Picking out a tree at a Christmas tree farm
    • You can pick from a few different types of trees like Frazer Fir, Noble Fir, or White Pine. The Fraser and Noble Firs have shorter needles and are easier to decorate.
      • Tina Theis, owner of The Plantsmyth Inc., said that the choice of tree type really just depends personal preference.
    • Having branch space will make ornaments hang down straight. If there’s less space, ornaments could hang at an angle.
    • Make sure to look for a fresh tree
      • “Look for brown colored needles,” Theis said. “While some might have needles falling off, the color of the needles is an easy way to tell if the tree is drying out.”
      • The needles should look green and lively if it’s doing well.
    • The Club for Boys in Rapid City is holding their annual tree sale beginning November 21, 2022.
  • Picking out a tree to harvest yourself
    • Christmas tree permits for Black Hills National Forest are available for purchase.
      • You can get permits online, at a local Forest Service office or from private vendors throughout the Black Hills.
      • There is a maximum number of five trees for a permit and the fee costs $10 per tree plus a $2.50 processing fee.
        • Permits must be visible as you remove trees from the Forest. (Online permits can be printed right after buying them).
    • Only trees on public land within the boundaries of the Black Hills National Forest can be cut.
      • Trees cannot be cut from:
        • Developed recreation sites like campgrounds, picnic sites and day-use areas.
        • Forest Service administrative sites
        • Within active timber sales,
        • Black Hills Experimental Forest near Rochford
        • Black Elk Wilderness Area
        • Beaver Park near Sturgis
        • Within Spearfish Canyon
        • Private property within the Black Hills
    • Choosing a tree
      • There are size limits to the trees you can cut.
        • 20 feet is the height maximum
        • Six inches is the stump height maximum
        • Six inches is the stump diameter maximum
      • You must cut down the entire tree, not just the top of the tree.
      • If there’s snow, remove it from around the stump so you can get an accurate measure of the stump and tree height.
        • It’s encouraged to pick a tree in a dense area, giving remaining trees more space.
        • Once you safely cut the tree down, cut leftover branches from the stump and scatter them over the ground in the area.
    • Tips from the permit website:
      • Share your plans and location with family and friends for safety in case of an emergency situation.
        • Don’t rely solely on a GPS, bring a map with you.
      • Check the weather conditions, forest warnings and road closures before heading out and be aware that the weather can change quickly.
        • Roads may not be plowed, so pack properly. Also bring extra dry clothes in case the weather gets worse.
      • Pack plenty of food and water, an overnight survival kit and leave the wood before dark.
          • It’s also not recommended to bring your pets with you unless they stay secured in your vehicle.
  • Transportation
    • To protect the tree, laying it in the vehicle is the best option, but not everyone has a large enough vehicle.
    • If you drive home with it on your roof, tie it securely, and wrap it in a tarp or old blanket to protect it from the wind and debris.
Mss Tree 12

The 2022 Main Street Square Christmas tree being transported

Once you get home

  • Make a Fresh Cut
    • “You should trim about one to two inches off the bottom of the tree when you get home,” Theis said.
      • This would allow the tree to begin soaking up water immediately.
    •  This is when you choose the right height as well, measure and cut more off the bottom as needed.
  • Before putting up the tree
    • Make sure your stand is stable so your tree stands vertical.
      • You might add a piece of plywood on uneven flooring if needed
      • You can also add a large, flat piece of plywood to the tree stand if you’re worried about the tree tipping over.
    • Place plastic or waterproof covering on the floor where your tree will go to protect the floors from watermarks.
  • After putting up the tree
    • Adjust the top if needed by clipping away stray branches if it’s too tall. Avoid cutting the tallest vertical branch until you determine the height it needs to be.
    • Trim any stray branches that look imperfect or hit furniture or walls.
      • Try trimming them parallels to the floor, making cuts less noticeable
    • Water thoroughly
      • Theis says that you mainly want to water the tree for as long as you want to keep it up.
        • Check that the tree has enough water tree daily, or more frequently when first set up
        • A long-spout watering can help make watering a little easier.
    • If worried about kids or pets knocking the tree over, you can secure it to a wall or stable furniture.
  • Decorate
    • Personalize your tree however you want for the holidays. It is your tree now.
Categories: Local News, South Dakota News