I’ll Have a Green Christmas

Often, we find ourselves thinking about the choice between a real Christmas tree or an artificial one that will last for a few years. There are many things to consider, but In terms of saving the planet, most agree live trees are the best choice for many reasons. 


While they’re growing, trees support all life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases, and emitting fresh oxygen. The National Christmas Tree Association estimates farms are growing about 450,000,000 trees at any given time; together, they harvest about 30 million each year. That is a lot of plant growth, which stabilizes soils, protects water supplies, and provides refuge for wildlife. As an added benefit, Christmas trees are often grown on soil that won’t support other crops, so our land utilization is more uniform. 

Plus, don’t overlook the enjoyment of taking the family out for a day on the farm, or sharing the task of picking the “perfect” tree.  

Click here for info on two local farms. 


Trees are grown on farms just like any other crop and farmers are smart; they plant multiple seedlings for every tree harvested to ensure a constant and healthy supply. 

Artificial trees, used for six to nine years on average, are typically heavy on plastics and metals, which end up in landfills for a few centuries. Not to mention, much of that plastic started its life in China. 

“When a tree is cut down, another can be grown in its place,” says Steve Long of the Nature Conservancy. “


Real Christmas trees are biodegradable, which means they can be easily reused. Be sure to remove everything, including tinsel, before delivering it to a recycle station. Steve adds, “When you’re done with the tree in your home, it can be turned into mulch to support other growth, so the tree has a life that goes on and extends its usefulness.”

You can also put a cut tree into a pond or lake (with permission) to create a natural habitat for fish. 


Balled and burlapped or “living” trees are gaining popularity. Farmers grow the Christmas tree’s roots into a ball and wrap it, dirt and all, in a burlap sack. They are also sold in large pots. These trees can be displayed in your home for two weeks, then replanted outside. Be sure to prepare a hole ahead of time and prepare the soil. Also ask your grower about tree species, and their growth requirements (soil, water, and space needed), and mention any allergies you may have ahead of time. Locally, contact Landmark Nurseries, Inc. in Round Rock. 512-251-9238 or Austin Tree Farm 512-338-4050. 

Growers caution those using re-plantable trees to use LED lights that are not high-temperature. Keep the root ball moist, but not soggy; e.g., ice cubes slowly melt and water the tree over time. When ready to re-plant, place the tree in a garage or outer room to acclimate it back to the outdoor temperatures. 

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