How to pick the perfect Christmas tree and where to find it

Tom Nieman has 48 acres of Fraser firs and other Christmas trees at Nieman’s Tree Farm.
Tom Nieman has 48 acres of Fraser firs and other Christmas trees at Nieman’s Tree Farm.

On the 48-acre Nieman’s Tree Farm in Lexington, Tom Nieman grows about 15,000 trees, including Fraser fir, white fir and white pine.

Originally from Cincinnati, Nieman has owned his farm since 1977, and he started selling Christmas trees in 1990. During that time, the Fraser fir has become by far the most popular tree.

“They hold up the best,” he said. ‘They have a good straight trunk, they hold ornaments well and they have excellent green color.”

Another sought-after variety is the white fir. “They tend to be fatter and a little fuller,” he said.

Starting in October, people come out and choose their favorite tree, and on a visit to the farm last week, several trees were already tagged, ready to be cut and carted home. In addition to choose-and-cut trees, the farm normally offers balled-and-burlapped services. But Nieman, who retired from the University of Kentucky on Aug. 1 after 39 years as a professor of landscape architecture, says that because of all the dry weather, it’s not a good idea this year.

But there are plenty of healthy trees for cutting.

Once you get your Christmas tree home, simply keep it hydrated, Nieman said. “Bring it in and put it in water,” he said. “Just water. All the other stuff is old wives’ tales, like Sprite or aspirin. None of that is true.”

Kentucky’s Christmas tree farms are open for business, offering blue spruce, Fraser fir and other trees. We’ve rounded up a list of local farms that you’ll want to take along when you shop for that perfect tree.

Clark County

Kovalic’s Christmas Tree Farm. 487 Ecton Rd., Winchester. White and Scotch pine, Canaan fir, Douglas fir, Norway and blue spruce. Choose-and-cut or balled and burlapped. Trees shaken and wrapped. Cut white and Scotch pine $5-$7 per foot. Spruce or fir $10 per foot, balled and burlapped $15 per foot. Hours: Nov. 25-Dec. 24. 1 p.m.-dark Mon.-Thu. and Sun.; 11 a.m.-dark Fri., Sat. Directions: From Lexington on Interstate 64, take Exit 96, turn right onto Ky. 627. At first stoplight, turn left on Veterans Memorial Parkway (Ky. 1958), go 1 mile to Ky. 1960 or Ecton Road; turn right, go quarter-mile to farm on left. Contact: 859-808-0132.

Fayette County

Barker’s Christmas Tree Farm. 1500 Deer Haven Ln. Choose-and-cut Canaan and Douglas Fir, Norway spruce and white pine. Trees shaken and wrapped for easier transport. Wreaths made daily. Tree stands. Tree prices start at $33, wreaths $16-$22. Cash or check only. Hours: 3:30-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. Directions: From Man o’ War Blvd., take Todds Rd. 1.8 miles out of town, past the Interstate 75 bridge. Turn left on Deer Haven Ln. and go about  3/4 mile; farm is on the right. Contact: 859-223-4354, 859-333-7213.

Christmas Memories Tree Farm. 4890 Keene Rd. (Ky. 1267), Lexington. Choose-and-cut white and Scotch pine and Canaan fir, $35-$100, check or cash only. Saws, twine and help loading trees provided. Hours: 9 a.m.-dark Dec. 3, 10; 2 p.m.-dark Dec. 4. Directions: From Man o’ War Blvd., go 1.7 miles south on Harrodsburg Rd. Turn onto Military Rd. Bear left on Keene Rd. (Ky. 1267). Drive .4 miles, and trees will be on your left. Contact: 859-223-1140.

Nieman’s Tree Farm. 5100 Sulphur Ln., Lexington. Choose-and-cut Fraser and white fir and white pine. 5- to 6-foot tree $60, 6- to 7-foot tree $80. Trees are up to 16 feet tall. Saws available; farm will cut and load tree for you. Portable restroom. Hours: 9 a.m.-dark Sat. and Sun., 3 p.m.-dark Mon.-Fri. Nov. 25 through Dec. 24. Directions: From Man o’ War Boulevard, take Todds Road 3 miles out of town, turn right on Sulphur Lane. Farm is on the right. Contact: 859-263-4535, 859-552-3532.

Fleming County

Hutton-Loyd Tree Farm. 644 Christmas Tree Rd., Wallingford. White pine, Norway and Colorado blue spruce, fraser firs. Choose-and-cut and pre-dug trees available. Cut trees start at $32. Dug trees start at $46. Fraser firs from North Carolina start at $64. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 25 and Sat. and Sun. through Dec. 18. 606-876-3423.

Garrard County

Cathole Bend Tree Farm. 1243 Cathole Bend Rd., Lancaster. You-cut Norway, blue and white spruce; white pine and Canaan fir. Trees priced individually starting at $15. All trees more than 12 feet tall are $50. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Through Dec. 24. Directions: Take U.S. 27 to Ky. 52 in Lancaster, turn west toward Danville and go 0.8 mile. Turn south on Ky. 1150 (Old Danville Rd.) and go 2.8 miles to the bridge across Dix River. Don’t cross the bridge. Drive straight down Cathole Bend Rd.; the road ends at the farm. Contact: 859-985-7044.

Madison County

Baldwin Farms. 1113 Tates Creek Rd., Richmond. Trees grown on the farm: Norway and white spruce, and white pine. Cut your own tree (bow saws provided) or farm will cut it. All cut trees grown on the farm $50, any size, even big trees. Fraser firs from North Carolina priced individually. Balled and burlapped trees to plant after Christmas start at $60 and the price goes up $10 a foot. Other items include free hot chocolate and candy canes for customers, wreaths, garland, mistletoe kissing balls, local honey, sorghum, jams, salsa. Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Dec. 21. Santa will visit 1-4 p.m. Nov. 26, 27; Dec. 3, 4. Directions: From Main Street (U.S. 25) in Richmond, take Tates Creek Road (Ky. 169) 1.5 miles and look for signs on left. Contact: 859-582-5785.

Owen County

Michels Family Farm. 4275 Ky. 1316, Sparta. You-cut or the farm will cut for you. Scotch and white pine, Canaan fir. Saws provided. Trees are shaken and baled. Most trees $50 to $70. Wreaths and swags. Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 25 and Sat. and Sun. through Dec. 25. Located 7 miles from Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Contact: 502-750-7000. 859-643-2511.

Harriett Hendren: 859-231-3175