The choosing and care of your holiday tree

Start a family holiday tree choosing tradition and find out how to care for your tree

Probably you are not looking for a tree quite as large as the 70 foot blue spruce that was donated by a McHenry County, Illinois family to Chicago as the city’s tree in Daley Plaza.

A 70 foot blue spruce from McHenry County now stands tall in Chicago's Daley Plaza
A 70 foot blue spruce from McHenry County now stands tall in Chicago's Daley Plaza

However, if you live in the Chicago area chances are there is a tree with your family’s name on it out in McHenry County. That is where corn and farm stands bump up against orchards and plant nurseries and a USDA report listed the county’s growers as harvesting more trees than elsewhere in the state.

At McHenry’s Richardson Farm in Spring Grove you can do more than merely search for the perfect tree. You can turn it into an experience.

Ride out to the trees and have fun finding just the right one. Cut yours down and hitch a ride back to have it shaken, baled and receive twine to tie it to your car. Oh, and be sure to have a donut and cup of hot chocolate or coffee before you leave.

Start a family tradition of finding and cutting the perferct tree
Start a family tradition of finding and cutting the perferct tree

“Coming here is a family tradition,” says Carol Richardson who explained that families return there every year for their tree.  “It’s the entire experience: going out in the wagon, choosing a tree, looking around for a wreath and sipping hot cocoa.”

However, before choosing be sure the tree will be happy in your household  and look its best when most important.

Here are a few guidelines from Carol Richardson and from the farm’s website:

Before you head out, take a look at the photos and tree descriptions

  • Some trees have a longer life after cut than others. If set on getting a tree with a short cut life such as a Balsam fir or Norway spruce wait until a couple of weeks before Christmas to cut it. Also, ask or look for signs that recommend trees that last from Thanksgiving through Christmas.
  • After bringing your tree home make a fresh straight-across cut (not diagonal) about ½ inches from the original cut and immediately put the tree into water (warm is better the first time than cold.)
  • A water reservoir stand is best for the tree’s life but it still should be periodically checked so you keep the water level up. Some houses are drier than others which changes water evaporation time. Also trees drink water at different speeds. You can slow evaporation by placing the tree away from direct sunlight or a heating vent.
  • More guidelines

Richardson Farm, 9407 Richardson Road, Spring Grove, IL 60081 815-675-9729 For more tree farm locations see McHenry County or call McHenry County Convention & Visitors Bureau toll-free at 888-363-6177.

(Chicago tree photo courtesty of City of Chicago and trees at Richardson Farm courtesy of Richardson Farm)

Author: Jodie

Longtime Chicago Tribune contributor for news and features. Travel writer for What's Happening, Lakeland Boating and A&E for CBS

3 thoughts on “The choosing and care of your holiday tree”

  1. A fresh cut tree is a lot of work, work I’m not willing to go through. But this advice is sure to help some.

  2. Oh, boy! Can I tell you some funny stories, starting in 1953. We don’t do it anymore – after the short that darkened the entire apartment building a few years ago.

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