Picture the familiar Christmas scene: you arrive home from the garden centre, a tall, bushy tree proudly under your arm. You’re anxious to get it up and show it off in all it’s festive glory – but when it’s inside, once you’ve pruned and snipped it into it’s allocated space, the magic seems to have faded.

There’s no need, though, for your tree to be over-hacked, lopsided and backed into a corner, if you just do a little groundwork before you buy.

For instance, measure your floor-to-ceiling space, taking into account the height of any stand below and the fairy or the star which will add extra height to the top.

Then look at the width you have to play with. Will relatives be constantly brushing past the tree to reach a door or a sofa? If so, you’ll need to take that space into account and be prepared for some secateur work.

Of the estimated eight million real Christmas trees bought every year in the UK, according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, the most popular is the non-drop Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana), originally from south Russia. However, these are quite bushy trees and if you only have a narrow space, it might pay to shop for a smaller type, like the Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), popular in the eastern United States.

If space is really tight, you may opt for a small cypress which you can plant in a pot, then place on a side table or stand and decorate accordingly. Once Christmas is over, provided you have kept it well watered and away from radiators, you should be able to plant it out in the garden when weather and soil conditions permit.

Whatever you choose, remember that evergreens prefer the great outdoors, so don’t put them anywhere near a radiator and keep them well watered in a cool room. If you can, leave it till the last minute to bring them inside.

If you are buying a tree, saw off the bottom 5cm of trunk to open up its pores before you bring the tree inside and place it in a bucket of water until you are ready to house it. When you bring it in, make sure you can keep it topped up with water, as a tree will drink half a litre a day.

There’s a few extra tips to remember when buying your tree, too. Make sure the tree is fresh – when it dries out, it loses some of its green hue. Stroke the needles too, and they should feel moist to the touch. If it starts shedding some of its needles when it moves, it’s not the freshest. It’s also wise to shop around – or leave your tree-buying to the last minute – if you want a bargain, because prices vary hugely on location.

Once you’ve ticked all these boxes, and your tree is in place, get out the decorations, get the baubles on, and enjoy...