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How to Pick Your Perfect Christmas Tree

Local tree expert at Mostardi Nursery in Newtown Square offers his advice on picking that right fir.

It's that time of year again, where you find yourself trekking it out to the nearest nursery or tree lot only to find yourself in the same situation as you were last year and the year before. You spend hours and, possibly, days hunting for that perfect tree.

Fear not, AJ Iacuzio of Mostardi Nursery in Newtown Square gives Patch the quick guide to choosing your tree. Iacuzio sees an average 400-450 trees sold each winter. This winter will mark Iacuzio's 22nd Christmas, helping local residents in the area with his tree expertise.

The first part is figuring out what you want your tree to look like. Iacuzio said he "looks at the overall shape of the tree" from top to bottom. Some people like larger bottoms while others prefer a pointier top.

Once you've decided the shape, the next step is deciding the type of tree. Iacuzio said the two common trees found in the area are the Douglas-fir trees and the Fraser-fir trees. Mostardi offers both types of trees. The Douglas trees are grown locally around Penn State University in State College, PA, and the Fraser-fir trees come from North Carolina.

Depending on what you would like to do with the tree, Iacuzio said both are "beautiful looking" but Frasers have "heavier branches" that are good for ornament decorations. And if you're looking for that sweet scent that evergreens give off, you'll be happy to know that "both the trees will have that smell," said Iacuzio. According to Iacuzio, both trees have fairly good needle retention, which is good news to the tree clean-up crew after the holidays.

Though both are good trees, Iacuzio said he personally likes the Fraser firs. "They're probably one of the best trees you can buy," said Iacuzio.  The Douglas firs also have a two-tone color to their branches, giving off a silvery-green color to the tree.

"The Douglas trees are a little lighter and have thinner branches, but they actually look really good with just white lights," recommended Iacuzio.

To determine if a tree is healthy, Iacuzio said to run your hand through the branches to see if a lot of needles fall off. Although it's normal for a few to fall, a handful of needles should indicate that it's not the tree you want.

And for those who are looking for easy maintenance and no clean-up process after the holidays, Iacuzio recommended the potted Dwarf Alberta Spruce evergreens. They can grow up to six or eight feet but the growth process is slow.

At Mostardi, they offer all their customers a fresh cut once a tree has been sold. Iacuzio said a fresh cut helps a tree live longer as it absorbs more water. It's recommended that a tree be stored in a container with at least one gallon of water.

The best way to discard the trees, said Iacuzio, is ideally to take the tree to a shredder, so the tree can be reused as mulch, as they do at Mostardi. The nursery currently does not offer shredding or mulching services. However, the Delaware County Compost Farm in Chester offers county residents a free place to drop off their trees, trimmings and shrubs.

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