Whether you pick up a tree from a local garden center or chop it down yourself, one thing’s for sure: you need to get it home in the same condition that made you pick it! Taking the right measurements to wrap up and secure your tree will ensure that it’ll look just as good in your living room as it did in the wild. After all, properly transporting a conifer is not only about preserving nature’s beauty, it’s also about preventing damage or injury.
Before you leave the house, measure the height of the room where you plan to display the tree; it should be at least a foot taller than the conifer you buy. Also make sure to measure your car’s interior storage area and roof.
2. Wrap It Up
Most trees are sold in netting, which you should leave on so that the branches stay tightly bundled. No net? Shake the tree to rid it of loose needles, then wrap it in a blanket or tarp.
3. In the Right Direction
To avoid wind damage when transporting a Christmas tree, arrange the tree so that the stump end faces the front of your vehicle.
4. Tie It Off
If you have a roof rack, secure the tree, from where the branches start to its tip, with bungee cords or rope. Those without a roof rack should first open all their car doors—not the windows—then tie the tree snugly to the roof with rope. For trees that extend more than a couple of feet beyond your car’s bumpers, tie a reflective flag to the end to alert other drivers.
(This article originally appeared on . Author // Sal Vaglica. Illustrations // Jason Schneider.)