((Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 23, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments. We hope you enjoy it as we count down to Christmas.)

The market is flooded with choices when it comes to Christmas trees. Ultimately, the choice of which tree to purchase depends on the family purchasing it. For my home I purchased a small inexpensive artificial tree this year. It is my first tree in several years and I felt like I should have one this year because one of my children and my two year old grandson are visiting from out of state this Christmas. I have to say that it went against my grain to use an artificial tree in my home. I would much rather have a live potted tree, but that is personal preference. Below is a look at some of the choices available.

Trees in warehouse
Trees in warehouse courtesy of
Hoodsie at Morgue File

Artificial Trees:

Concern over the environment may cause some to shy away from artificial trees while others use them due to family members who may have allergies to evergreens, ease of use and the fact that they may be reused from year to year.

Artificial trees are made from plastics and metals. The plastics are not environmentally friendly because they do not break down in landfills, which is where they ultimately wind up.

The majority of artificial trees are produced in Asian countries and must be shipped to the North American coast and then trucked or taken by rail to delivery points across the country.

Thousands of dollars worth of resources which are not renewable are wasted by the time these seasonal items are delivered to warehouses and stores around the country.

Live Trees:
Cut trees wrapped in netting
Cut trees wrapped in netting
by Smallwon at Morgue File

In comparison, live Christmas trees are a renewable and recyclable resource. Christmas Tree Farm Network's website states that for each tree harvested, 2 or 3 seedlings are planted in its place. The website goes on to say that there are approximately 17,500 Christmas tree growers in the United States alone.

These tree farms can be found all over the country making it easy for families to bring home a live tree for their Christmas holiday.

Concerns When Using a Live Tree:
  • Large Christmas tree farms may use pesticides when growing these trees. Try to find an organic tree farm if possible. If this is not an option, spray the tree with the water and allow it to sit outside for a few days when you bring it home.
  • Allergies to evergreens or pesticides used on trees may be such that a live tree can not be used in some homes.
  • Potted trees are much heavier than cut trees. Soil on the roots can make the tree very heavy. Keep this in mind because you may need to enlist some help when moving the tree.
Good Reasons to Use Live Trees:
  • While in the field, trees help to clean the air by reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Live trees also provide shelter for birds and other wild critters if chemical pesticides are not used excessively.
  • Cut trees can be recycled into mulch for the garden when the season is over.
  • Potted trees can be planted in the landscape where they will live for many years providing wildlife habitat, continuing to clean the air which in turn improves our lives and the lives of future generations.
Decorated Live Tree
Decorated live tree courtesy of
MConnors at Morgue File
  • A note about buying potted trees:

If the ground is not frozen when you bring the tree home; dig a hole large enough for the tree, lay a piece of burlap or tarpaulin in the hole and place the loose dirt on top of it. When the tree is taken out for planting after Christmas, your planting hole will be ready to receive it. This is helpful if the ground freezes while you are celebrating the holidays.

A few miles from my house is Jeffery's Christmas Tree Farm. Richard Jeffery has been growing and selling trees here for more than two decades. Although the likelihood there will ever be snow dusting the limbs of these evergreens creating a magical winter wonderland, a walk among the trees is still a pleasant way to spend time with your family. Like any good tree farmer, Mr. Jeffery is always friendly and happy to answer any questions you may have.

Jeffery's Christmas Tree FarmJeffery's Christmas Tree Farm

Placed squarely in front of the office building he has placed a sign which reads:

"This is a Christmas Tree Farm. Feel free to breathe deeply. The trees of this plantation are absorbing carbon dioxide and sending out fresh oxygen. Use a natural tree every Christmas so that this plantation can keep on making clean air."
Member of the Florida Christmas Tree Association

Jeffery's Christmas Tree Farm

For my family, that pretty much says it all.
Happy Gardening and Merry Christmas!

Photos not credited above belong to author.
Thank you to Mr. Jefferys who took time out of a busy day to answer my questions when I dropped by.