Today, bundled evergreens line the streets of New York City from Thanksgiving through Christmas. The scent of evergreen mingles with the odors of taxi exhaust and urine (ahhh, New York during the holidays). Trees are sold from retail lots, from the backs of trucks, and from makeshift displays at local bodegas and stores.
Prices can be steep – running from $20 per foot in tree height and up. Haggling is customary with some vendors so don’t be afraid to try to bargain.
How to Pick a TreeMake sure you get your money’s worth by picking the right tree. There are a number of species of evergreen available -- each has a distinctive appearance and fragrance. The Scots pine and white pine (which is native to New York) are among the longer-needled varieties. The Douglas fir, the white spruce, and the balsam fir are short-needled choices.
Whatever species strikes your fancy, it’s important to pick a fresh Christmas tree that will look beautiful throughout the holidays. A fresh tree should have a healthy, green appearance without many dead or browning needles. Needles should look green and flexible and should not come off in your hand if you gently stroke a branch.
To test your tree’s freshness, try this trick. Lift a cut tree a couple of inches off the ground and let it drop on the cut stem. If the tree is fresh, green needles should not drop off the tree (though a few dried, inner needles may fall off).
Have Your Tree DeliveredIn Manhattan, you can have anything delivered – including your Christmas tree. If you’re not up for wrestling a prickly tree up the stairs to your walk-up, you may consider the delivery fee money well spent. Many of the Christmas tree lots will provide delivery service for an added fee. A number of other retailers let you order online and have your real live Christmas tree shipped to your door.
Tyler's Trees: Order online from Tyler's Trees and your tree stand, tree skirt, delivery & set-up are all included. Trees run from $139 (5 feet) to $279+ (8 feet and up to "Rockefeller" size) for delivery in Manhattan. If you're in Brooklyn or Queens, gas prices mean an extra $30 added to each tree. The ordering process is just like Seamless Web. When you order your tree, you select a delivery time window and wait for Tyler to show up with your tree. Add a fresh wreath (starting at $25.99) or Christmas lights ($16.99) or schedule removal service for $45.
Soho Trees: Soho Trees has locations all over Manhattan. They have been in business for 28 years and offer same-day delivery and even professional decoration services. Visit them on 6th Avenue between Spring and Dominick Streets or at one of nine other Manhattan locations. Soho Trees delivers Christmas trees in Manhattan 24 hours/day until Christmas Eve. Call 212-920-9094 for more information or to place an order.
Greenpoint Trees: Brooklyn-based Greenpoint trees will deliver anywhere in the five boroughs. Home delivery specials include 6-7' Balsam and North Carolina Fraser firs with delivery included. Call 1-800-399-7796 for more information or to place an order.
Home Depot: Order fresh-cut Christmas trees and holiday wreaths and greenery online. Fresh cut trees start at $99 with free shipping. Home Depot will deliver to your door within 2 to 8 business days.
GreenValley Christmas Trees: Order your real live Christmas tree online from GreenValley and it will arrive via FedEx in 3-5 days. Tree prices range from $63.99 to $195.99 and delivery is free. Save 15% if you order before December 17, 2012.
Egan Acres Tree Farm: This famous Bronx tree farm, which has produced five of the world's largest Christmas trees, will ship a gorgeous, freshly-cut Christmas tree to your door. Call (914)804-8981 for info regarding shipping charges.
Taking Care of Your Real Christmas TreeWhen you get your real Christmas tree home, experts say you should cut at least 1/2- to 1-inch off the base of the tree trunk and, initially, put hot water in the tree holder to remove any sealing pitch. Next, the tree should be placed in a stand with a large reservoir of water.
It’s important to keep the tree watered at all times. Overall, a good rule of thumb is to treat a green Christmas tree just like a fresh bouquet of cut flowers. Under favorable conditions, Christmas trees should last inside safely at least a few weeks.
Put your Christmas tree in a safe place, preferably near a wall or corner where it is not likely to be knocked over. Keeping the tree away from heat sources such as hot air ducts, wood stoves, fireplaces, etc., will help to preserve freshness and lessen fire danger.
Recycle Your Real Christmas TreeReal Christmas Trees can be recycled for mulch and other purposes. Every January, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation sponsors a Mulchfest. New Yorkers can leave their trees at the curb on designated days to be collected, chipped, and then mixed with leaves to make compost. The compost will be processed and spread upon parks, ball fields, and community gardens throughout the city.
Does a real tree sound like too much hassle? Check out NYC deals on artificial Christmas trees.