How to Care for Your Farm-Grown Christmas Tree

(From the National Christmas Tree Association.)

When a Christmas tree is cut, more than half its weight is water. With proper care, you can maintain the quality of your tree. Below are a number of tips on caring for your tree:

watering the tree

Make sure your Christmas tree has plenty of water in the tree stand reservoir.

  1. Displaying trees in water in a traditional reservoir type stand is the most effective way of maintaining their freshness and minimizing needle loss problems.
  2. Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don’t cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree.
  3. Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6 to 8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don’t bruise the cut surface or get it dirty.
  4. If needed, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water.
  5. To display the trees indoors, use a stand with an adequate water holding capacity for the tree. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Devices are available that help maintain a constant water level in the stand.
  6. Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
  7. Keep trees away from major sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.
  8. The temperature of the water used to fill the stand is not important and does not affect water uptake.
  9. Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.
  10. Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does NOT improve water uptake.
  11. Use of lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying of the tree.
  12. Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set.
  13. Do not overload electrical circuits.
  14. Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.
  15. Monitor the tree for freshness. After Christmas or if the tree is dry, remove it from the house.
  16. Visit the Tree Recycling page to find a recycling program near you.
  17. Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.

Prepared by Dr. Gary Chastagner and Dr. Eric Hinesley; edited by the National Christmas Tree Association

A Short History (and Then Some!) of JP Landscape Tree Farm

Just a short 2.5-mile drive from downtown Duvall, off of picturesque NE Cherry Valley Road, you’ll find our 10-acre tree farm.

The Farm
The property, one of the oldest farms in western Washington, became a Christmas tree farm in the early 70’s. It was owned by the Viperman family and called VIP’s Tree Farm for nearly 30 years. Josh and Crystal Polacek moved to the farm in 2000 BK (before kids), for the wonderful natural property, the creekside location, room for their landscape and construction company, and a great opportunity to sell Christmas trees.

The Family
Both Josh and Crystal are keeping it rural: Josh and his brother were born and raised in Duvall (his father still lives in town), and Crystal grew up in Snohomish (her parents — who don’t seem to age despite having raised eight kids — and several brothers and sisters still live there, and one of her sisters lives right up the road from the tree farm with her family). The Polaceks can’t imagine living anywhere else to raise their three children and run their businesses. Both love the small-town, know-your-neighbors community that is the city of Duvall.

The Christmas tree farm is truly a family-run business. Josh and Crystal manage the planning and preparations for tree season, which sometimes involves a bit of demolition as was the case last year when they tore down the old sales shack to lay pavers and make the covered area larger for customers to gather. This year, Josh dug up some of the mushy earth in the field and installed a pea gravel path to make things a bit less messy for the families who visit the farm. They’re also onsite every weekend and most weekdays, greeting customers, answering questions, and jumping right into help wherever it’s needed.

Crystal & Josh

Crystal and Josh — in matching uniforms even! — get things organized for opening day under the tree farm’s covered area.


You’ll find Josh and Crystal’s daughter, Jessi, running the register in the sales shack, while son J.Jay helps with tree production, shaking, baling, and hauling trees to customers’ vehicles. According to his parents, it’s really youngest son Jacob that runs the show. Known as The 3.75-Foot Tall Foreman (last year he was The 3.5-Foot Tall Foreman), he is the boss of everyone and has his hand in everything … sometimes literally! His trusty sidekick and the farm’s mascot, Cash, is the family’s black Lab. Tree Farm Dog, as he’s called, meanders around the farm greeting families and escorting customers through the field. He’s been known to keep a close eye on the roasting of s’mores, steal a glove, and break a credit card machine all in the name of Christmas spirit. If he’s tethered when you visit us, you know he’s “this close” to making the Naughty List.

Kids & Tree Farm Dog Cash

Clockwise from top left: Jessi, J.Jay, Tree Farm Dog Cash, and Jacob.


Running a Christmas tree farm wouldn’t be possible without the crew — Josh’s landscape company’s employees. These guys put in many, many hours and a ton of energy unloading and setting up trees, hauling trees from the field, and assisting customers with shaking, baling, and tying down trees on vehicles. Josh and Crystal are grateful each year for the hardworking, respectful, and kind people they have come to depend on to operate this business.

Manuel

This is Manuel, and he is our awesome tree whisperer. Always smiling and quick to wave hello, Manuel carefully and patiently tends to our Christmas trees. He’s been with us for five years and also works in our landscape division.

Angel & Eusebio

Angel and Eusebio unload fresh-cut Nobles from the trailer.

The Field
In addition to the hand-picked, fresh-cut Noble Firs offered during Christmas tree season, the farm boasts a crop of u-cut Grand, Fraser, and Noble Firs. In any given year, there are approximately 6,000 trees in the field. Tall, small, and everything in between! Tree farms are a 12-month process. Many people think trees are planted and then cut down six to eight years later to be taken home for the holidays. But Christmas trees require a lot of attention. Our crews mow the field all spring and summer, fertilize the trees twice a year, trim the grass between the rows, and assure each tree is looking its very best before opening day.

Frosty Tree Field

The Fauna
As you can imagine, there a number of animals and birds that visit us at the farm throughout the year. Last year, the most adorable Northern Pygmy Owl made his home in our tree field. He was with us for a few weeks before heading off on a new adventure. We haven’t seen him this year, but we were lucky enough to have our bird enthusiast friend take some beautiful photos of him last year.

Northern Pygmy Owl

Our tiny Northern Pygmy Owl visitor from 2013’s tree farm season. He’d fit right in the palm of your hand. (Photos by Linda Nichols)

There are several songbirds that nest in our trees throughout the year. In the spring, they go crazy darting around with each other, always watchful of the eagles that sit at the top of the tallest tree near the road. Pheasants will wander onto the property and hang out under the Christmas trees, and we’ve seen Blue Herons fly in and land in the creek. Speaking of the creek, every other year it fills to gills with salmon — Humpies and Kings — during their spawning migration. It’s quite a sight to see so many big fish in such a small area. Things get a bit “Circle of Life” when the salmon die; those eagles in the tall tree swoop down to the creek and fly off with the fish. Be thankful that our trusty crew walks the rows in our field before we open, otherwise you’d find more than Grand, Fraser, and Noble Firs on your Christmas tree hunt.

Some of our larger animal visitors include Blacktail deer. The males come through and rub the trees with their antlers. While it must feel amazing to the deer, it’s not good for the trees! It strips the bark from the trunks and breaks branches.

Some of our more carnivorous large animal visitors include bobcats, cougars, and bears. While we don’t see these creatures often, knowing we share this land with them is a constant reminder to us to be mindful and respectful of the fact that we’re running a business alongside our partner, Mother Nature.

Wildlife collage

A sampling of the wildlife that lives around the tree farm. (The carnivores were camera shy. Thank goodness!)

JP Landscape Tree Farm Loves You!

Dear JP Landscape Tree Farm fans — We have a lot to be grateful to you for this past holiday season, so be a collective dear and read our thank-you list, won’t you? You’ll be glad you did.

*Thank you for coming to our farm this season and buying our trees. In the 13 years we’ve been in operation, 2013 was by far our most successful season EVER. Because of YOU.

*Thank you for bringing your families out, despite the extra chilly temps, to hunt for that special tree. Getting small children (and some uncooperative adults) ready for freezing weather can feel like preparing for a NASA launch. We know what a chore it can be to bundle everyone up in giant coats, gloves, hats, and boots. Throw in packing snacks and making sure everyone has gone to the bathroom, and the whole shuttle mission can be thrown off in the blink of an eye.

*Thank you for letting us take photos of your beautiful families and giving us your permission to use those photos on Facebook. (You really are a stunning bunch!)

*Thank you for your patience with our sometimes over-eager, over-achieving and aggressively affectionate Farm Dog as he escorted you around the field while you searched for your tree, or as he acted as security detail while you enjoyed a s’more at the fire pit, or as he banged into your shins with his Cone of Shame. (And to the nice lady who happened to have had a glove snatched and then returned all slobbery to her several minutes later, an extra special thanks to you for laughing at Farm Dog rather than scolding him.)

*Thank you for giving us a chuckle with your DIY tree-tie-down job on your luggage-rack-less vehicle. When you attempted to enter your vehicle and found your doors to be tied shut because you put the rope through your open windows to secure your tree to the roof, be assured that we were laughing *with* you, not *at* you. (Okay, maybe a little bit at you.)

*Thank you for your endless parade of smiling faces and kind words, your enthusiasm for and engagement with our social media campaign (all the likes and positive comments!), for gathering ’round the fire pit, writing letters to Santa and making pine cone bird feeders, and eating s’mores and slugging down hot cocoa and cider.

*Thank you most of all for supporting this local family-run Christmas tree farm. It has truly been our pleasure serving you and we wouldn’t be here without your support and kindness.

We hope you and your families were blessed with love, laughter,joy, and plenty of helpings of the four food groups — candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup – this past holiday season.

Thanks-to-you-allBest wishes for a happy and healthy 2014 from all of us at JP Landscape Tree Farm!

Christmas Tree Farm Prep: A Timeline of Tannenbaums

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Have you ever wondered what goes into getting a tree farm prepared for opening the day after Thanksgiving? A lot!

Year-Round and Weeks Before Opening Day

Making sure the trees look their best for the season begins several months in advance.  We have a dedicated staff member who fertilizes and weeds the Christmas trees year-round.  The trees are shaped in late August, trimmed four weeks before opening day, and beautified right up until we open. (This year we open the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23rd.)

The Week Before Thanksgiving

You’ll see crews around the tree farm cleaning up the grounds, laying new gravel in the parking lot, setting up lights and tents, hanging wreaths and signs, sharpening saws for the u-cut trees, readying the Shakey & Baler, prepping the office, and performing one final tree check to make sure they look their best.  Crews limb the under-branches to make the trees easier to cut, and leafblow any old needles, spiders, and bird nests out of the trees. Nothing kills the Christmas spirit faster than finding a hairy eight-legged stowaway on Baby’s First Christmas ornament.

The Week of Thanksgiving

Early in the week, we head north to handpick and harvest the layered natural Nobles we offer. Our first semi shipment of trees is delivered mid-week; the crew assembles at the crack of dawn and gets down to business unloading the truck and setting up these beautiful trees. We’re officially prepared for the season to begin and ready to welcome you and your family to the tree farm!

The Close of Tree Sales

We open the day after Thanksgiving and stay open until we’re sold out! When the holidays come to a close and you’re ready to de-flock and dispose of your tree, there are two tree-cycling options available to you in Duvall: The first is offered through the Boy Scouts. A flyer will be delivered to you (be sure to check your front door!) explaining the service. Trees are picked up curbside in early January and recycled into wood chips. A donation of $10 for the service is greatly appreciated. The second is the Snoqualmie Valley Tree-Cycling Drop-off event, which also takes place in early January. Bring your tree to Taylor Landing Park in Duvall, where they’ll be chipped and recycled as garden mulch and pet bedding. The public is encouraged to come on down to the landing and take what the chippers leave behind.

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas! We hope to see you at JP Landscape Tree Farm, and best wishes to you for a wonderful and healthy holiday season.