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Tips on How to Transport a Christmas Tree

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how to transport a christmas tree

I’ll come back to pick up the kids later.
Photo: Steven Depolovia Flickr

Picking out the family Christmas tree is a time filled with tradition, wonder, and a lot of elbow grease on your part. While everyone loves to give opinions on the perfect tree, they seldom stick around to strap your prickly new friend to the car. While the kids sip on hot chocolate and sing carols, follow our tips on how to transport a Christmas tree to get it home in one piece.

how to haul christmas tree

A great example of holiday tree transport.
Photo: Cary and Darla via Flickr

1. Be Prepared

Before you head out to the tree lot, make sure you have the following ingredients to maximize your holiday cheer, which is directly proportionate to how many pine needles stab your arms.

  • Work gloves
  • An old blanket or tarp
  • Rachet-style tie-downs

2. The Perfect Tree (for Hauling)

Sure, that nine foot fir looks fantastic on the lot, and it may even fit inside your living room with a bit of trimming, but will it fit on the roof of your SUV? Can you lift it on your own back at home? Be sure that you’re picking out a tree that is not only free of bare spots, but will also realistically fit on top of your vehicle without extending too far past the bumper. Even if the family falls in love with a giant, they’re probably going to disappear when it’s time to strap it to the car, so make sure you can handle it.

3. The Right Roof for the Job

For hauling your evergreen a great distance, you’re going to want to have a roof rack to help anchor the tree on the top of the car. If you don’t have a roof rack, bribe a your truck-owning friend with promises of eggnog back home.

4. Keep it Under Wraps

Most Christmas trees will come netted (if you buy them from a lot, anyway; they tend not to come netted in nature), so be sure to leave them that way so that carrying it is more manageable.

Christmas Tree Convertible

File this under ‘Don’t’.
Photo: Crystal Jackson via Flickr

5. Cover up Your Car

To avoid paint scratches, lay your tarp or blanket out on the roof of the car before mounting the tree up there. Spread it out to cover the entire top to also protect from pieces that fly off in transport. If you’re hauling in the back of your SUV or minivan, lay down a blanket or tarp to protect your interior from sap stains. Doesn’t your car look cozy?

6. Stump Forward

As This Old House points out, you’ll want to have the stump facing the front of the vehicle to help avoid damage to the branches. The best way to transport a tree is to cover it completely to keep the wind from drying it out, so if you have a second tarp handy, roll the tree up in it before hauling it onto the roof.

7. Tie it Down

If your tree is indeed going on the roof, The Globe and Mail recommends against bungee cords, instead recommending ratchet-style tie-downs. Before you leave the lot, make sure to give the tree a firm tug to ensure that it’s not going anywhere. Tie a piece of orange ribbon on the end of the tree if it is hanging out past the bumper.

8. Take it Slow

Once you get driving, take it slow and put on your hazard lights. Highways are not your friend when you have a potential eight feet of flying, piney, green death on top of your vehicle. Back at home, wrap the tree in the tarp laid on the roof to keep needles from getting all over the house. From there, we’ll leave you with some tips on caring for your Christmas tree through the season.

Christmas tree on car

Don’t take Stitch’s lead on any DIY job.
Photo: Alex Handy Flickr

Share pics of your successful tree hauls on Facebook!

  • Rain BlankenManaging Editor

    Rain Blanken is an author who specializes in covering art, travel and the automotive industry. With three kids and a lot of road trips ahead of her, she is always excited to review the latest models and to check out classic car shows. Rain has written for The New York Times, Barnes & Noble and Running Press. She currently lives in the land of cornfields and airfields; Dayton, Ohio. See more articles by Rain.