How to choose your Christmas tree, with Hurleys Christmas Tree Farm, Battlesbridge

Farm workers on Hawkwell Christmas tree farm, Essex, England, UK (Model Released)

The Hurleys are preparing for the end of November when Christmas-tree fever hits the farm - Credit: Narratives / Polly Eltes

Martin and David Hurley, owners of Hurleys Christmas Tree Farm in Battlesbridge, Essex, gives us their top tips for choosing and looking after the perfect Christmas tree. 

Words: Sian Williams / Narratives. Photos: Polly Eltes / Narratives

Low angle view of Christmas tree, Hawkwell tree farm, Essex, England, UK

The farm grows trees for the smallest flats to the grandest homes - Credit: Narratives / Polly Eltes

Nordmann Fir (Abies Nordmaniana) 

The most popular needle-retaining tree in the UK. Buy direct from your grower and keep in a water-holding stand. This tree is low maintenance and will continue to look great over the festive season. Really good for busy families who have very little time to care for the tree.  

Noble Fir (Abies Procera) 

Beautiful tree and is the best needle-holding variety. One of our favourites and a bestseller at the farm for many years. Again, a great tree for busy families as it doesn’t drop needles 

Fraser Fir (Abies Fraseri) 

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Narrow, bushy and wonderfully fragrant needle-retaining tree. We have grown them for more than 20 years and have become increasingly popular. It’s particularly good for those with limited width space.  

Norway Spruce (Picea Abies) 

The traditional Christmas tree. Wonderfully fragrant and very bushy. Must be bought fresh from the grower and watered regularly. Not as good a choice if you are unable to keep up with the maintenance. 

Blue Spruce (Picea Pungens Glauca) 

A traditional spruce but with an icy-blue colour. It’s a beautiful tree but the needles can be spiky – so not ideal if you have young children or pets – but needle drop is minimal. 

Scots & Lodgepole Pine (Pinus Sylvestris) 

Beautiful and bushy with striking colours, shapes and fragrance and little needle drop. Top up with water every day, and as it’s bushy it needs space to breathe.  

Man carries pine tree above head on Hawkwell Christmas tree farm, Essex, England, UK (Model Released

Martin carries a freshly cut Nordman Fir to be netted for one of his customers - Credit: Narratives / Polly Eltes

Other more unusual varieties..... 


Balsam Fir (Abies Balsam) 

A narrow tree with a lot of fragrance if you like your whole house to smell of Christmas. Easy to maintain by just watering once a day and low needle drop.   

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) 

A stunning tree with lots of fragrance but not so tightly shaped. Easy to maintain by watering once a day with very low needle drop.   

Serbian Spruce (Picea Omorika) 

Good cones and colour, but as with all the Spruce varieties needs to be looked after and watered regularly to prevent drying out and needles dropping.  

Corsican & Austrian Pines (Pinus Nigra) 

This tree has a wonderful pine fragrance and is a beautiful shape. Easy to look after by topping up with water once a day and needle drop is low.  

Christmas trees in frost on Hawkwell tree farm, Essex, England, UK

The sight of frosty trees gives a wonderfully festive feeling - Credit: Narratives / Polly Eltes

Looking after your tree... 

It’s really important that cut trees are as fresh as possible when purchased. The needles should not be dull and dried up and the branches should not be brittle. Check the outer needles don’t fall off if the tree is gently shaken.  

After you have bought your tree, it should be kept outside in a cool shaded place, preferably standing in water, until it is required indoors. Before bringing the tree indoors, it’s an advantage if you can cut half an inch off the butt to open up the pores of the tree. Mount it in a water-holding stand and place it away from direct heat. Keep the container topped up with water every day; you will be surprised how much it needs! 

Pine trees on Hawkwell Christmas tree farm, Essex, England, UK

At the back of the farm away from the hustle and bustle is where the bigger trees are left to grow - Credit: Narratives / Polly Eltes

Hurleys Christmas Tree Farm, Battlesbridge 
Woodham Road  

SS11 7QL 

07951 734 481

Man cutting pine tree with chainsaw on Hawkwell tree farm, Essex, England, UK (Model Released)

Martin cuts one of the larger trees for an Essex town centre - Credit: Narratives / Polly Eltes