Real or fake – the great Christmas tree debate

Posted on December 3, 2018 | Information, Property

For many of us, the Christmas tree is still the focal point of our festive decorations. For many years, a traditional Norway spruce with its slender branches, spiky needles and evocative scent would have been the go-to choice for a natural tree. As synthetic materials became more commonplace in the 1950s and 60s a wave of gaudy tinsel-wrapped trees became an affordable option and were ideal for smaller houses, creating a big impact with less mess.

Today we have access to a bewildering array of real and fake Christmas trees, including several types of fir and spruce that are designed to hold on to their needles till twelfth night, as well as super-realistic synthetic options that can run into hundreds of pounds. So what’s the best choice?

Comparing costs
A quality non-drop Christmas tree is quite a pricey option, costing upwards of £40, depending on size and variety, though you may be able to find better value outside the garden centre. A pot-grown tree will cost more on a per-foot basis but you should be able to re-use it in the garden after Christmas rather than relegating it to the recycling.

While top-notch artificial trees can retail for hundreds of pounds, the fact that you can display them year after year will save you money in the long run. You can opt for a hyper-realistic tree, a colour-coordinated tree or even an alternative contemporary-style tree if your taste runs to the more minimalistic. Many come pre-lit and they won’t drop needles all over your lounge, so they may be a better option if you like to decorate good and early or if you have young children and pets hell-bent on knocking them over!

Check out your footprint
We’re all rightly more concerned than we used to be about the impact of our carbon footprint. If you decide to opt for an average two-metre artificial tree you’ll need to re-use it for at least ten Christmases to bring its environmental impact below that of a real tree. Christmas trees are grown like any other crop – they’re planted and harvested each year, so you won’t be depleting natural resources by buying one.

A similar-sized real tree has a lower footprint than its synthetic counterpart – but only if you recycle it after the holidays by burning or chipping it (most green bins will accommodate a chopped-up Christmas tree and some charities will collect and dispose of it for a small fee).

Keeping it real
There’s nothing like heading out on a frosty day to pick your Christmas tree. Traditional spruce was the de facto choice in the days before central heating was ubiquitous but non-drop varieties like Nordman and Fraser firs are the big sellers now as they still have a classic shape but are a bit more robust. Whichever variety you pick, give it a little tlc if you want it to stay fresh. Keep it outside in a bucket of water till the last minute, then trim an inch off the bottom of the trunk before decorating. Position it away from fires and raditors and water every day.

Why not turn your buying trip into a family outing? or Larch Cottage Nurseries at Melkinthorpe near Yanwath is always worth a visit, while Hayes Garden World in Ambleside has a massive selection of real and artificial trees, as well as lots of decorations and