Real Christmas Trees Vs Artificial Christmas Trees

Before setting out to buy a tree, think about what’s most important to you — convenience, storage, initial cost or environmental footprint. Fresh-cut trees fill your home with that joyous pine scent, but require trimming, watering and proper disposal. Artificial trees are quick and easy to set up, but to be more eco-friendly than their fresh-cut counterparts, you have to keep them for about 10 years. Whether you decide on a real or artificial Christmas tree, it’s sure to be a festive focal point this holiday season.

Fresh-cut

Fresh-cut

Pros:

  • Selecting a tree every year can become a fun family tradition
  • Fills your home with a fresh pine scent
  • Lower up-front cost than an artificial tree
  • Generally better for the environment than artificial trees, especially when purchased close to your home and recycled properly

Cons:

  • Needle loss and sap can be cumbersome to clean up for the month or so it’s in your home
  • Requires watering every few days
  • Will only last about 6 weeks, depending on how dry your home is
  • Communities will often pick them up for proper disposal, but only on designated days in January

Fresh-Cut Trees Sold In-Store Only

Artificial

Artificial

Pros:

  • Easy to pull out of storage and set up — no car required
  • Lasts longer than 6 weeks, so you can set up earlier in the season and take down later in the season
  • Available in several sizes and styles, often pre-lit
  • Can last 10 years or more

Cons:

  • No fresh pine scent
  • Higher up-front cost
  • Require storage space that might be limited in small homes or condos
  • Need to be used for at least 10 years to be more environmental and cost-efficient than fresh-cut

Types of Fresh-cut Trees

Balsam

Balsam

Height range: 5’ – 9’
Available in: BC, QC, ON, Maritimes

Features:

  • Thrives in cooler climates
  • Dark green appearance with an attractive form
  • Very fragrant tree
Douglas

Douglas

Height range: 6’ – 7’
Available in: BC

Features:

  • Most recognizable variety on the west coast
  • Only hardy for BC (Vancouver and Vancouver Island)
  • Very fragrant tree
  • Dark green colour and a dense, bushy shape

 

Fraser

Fraser

Height range: 5’ – 9’
Available in: BC, QC, ON

Features:

  • Considered a premium variety of Christmas tree
  • Lush and dense foliage
  • Soft and sturdy needles make this tree an excellent choice for children

 

Noble

Noble

Height range: 7’ – 8’
Available in: BC, Prairies

Features:

  • Considered a premium variety of Christmas tree
  • Great tree for hanging ornaments
  • Green, silver and blue needles give this tree an attractive colour especially when lit with lights
  • Very fragrant tree

 

Planning

Planning

Consider the following before you set out for the perfect tree:

Location:
Choose a cool, draft-free spot for your fresh-cut tree. You also want to make sure it’s placed away from heat sources (vents, fireplaces and appliances) to prevent drying.

Size:
Once you find the right location, measure the available height and width of the area. The taller the tree, the larger its base will be, so keep both these measurements in mind when shopping. Allow an appropriate amount of space between the tree and the ceiling for a topper.

Decorations:
Think about your decorating goals. Since every tree has certain defining characteristics, the number of decorations and their weight can help determine what type of tree is right for you.

Selection Tips:

Because of its limited life span (4–6 weeks), you'll want to purchase a recently harvested Christmas tree. Here are some tips for choosing the freshest tree:

  • Run your hand lightly across a branch or gently shake the tree — it should retain the vast majority of its needles (some needle loss is normal).
  • Make sure the needles are still bright and vibrant in colour.
  • Avoid a tree with withered bark on the outer twigs and branches, which can indicate excessive dryness.
  • Pine tree needles should bend (not break), and fir needles should snap crisply when bent.
  • Inspect your tree for the presence of insects and other pests.
Maintenance Tips:
  • Keep your fresh-cut tree thriving all season long with a stand designed to deliver a constant supply of water. Look for models with adjustments that allow you to accommodate the natural slant of the tree. Stands are available in both plastic and metal and should have a minimum capacity of one litre. Make sure your stand fits around the entire width of the tree trunk and has a large enough capacity to keep the base of the trunk submerged in water at all times.
  • Before you place your tree in the stand, make a new cut on the trunk so it can more readily absorb the water. Simply saw off about 1/2 inch to 1 inch of the base.
  • Once your tree is secured in the stand, remember to check the water daily and make sure the base of the tree is always submerged.
  • A funnel with a long hose attachment can make it easier to refill the stand. Plain tap water is sufficient for fresh-cut trees.
Safety

Safety

  • Keep your tree well-hydrated as natural protection against fire hazards.
  • Use smaller, less heat-intensive lights like mini lights or LEDs to reduce drying.
  • Always inspect light strands and electrical cords for signs of damage before hanging them and discard defective strands.
  • Don’t overload electrical circuits or string more than the manufacturer-recommended number of strands together.
  • If you have small children or pets, take extra precautions to ensure your tree is sturdy and secure.
  • Always unplug lights when leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Don’t burn your tree in a fireplace or wood stove — flammable creosote can build up on the walls of your chimney and create a fire hazard.

Types of Artificial Trees

Types of Artificial Trees - Fir

Fir

  • Bushy and full in appearance
  • Great choice for a sparsely decorated tree
Types of Artificial Trees - Pine

Pine

  • Classic needle construction
  • Plenty of room for all your favourite ornaments
Types of Artificial Trees - Spruce

Spruce

  • More traditional shape and style
  • Perfect for lots of ornaments
Types of Artificial Trees - Flocked

Flocked

  • Branches are treated with a pre-applied snow dusting look
  • Mimics a winter wonderland inside your home
  • Available in pre-lit or unlit
Types of Artificial Trees - Tinsel/Metallic

Tinsel/Metallic

  • Retro and vintage style
  • Adds a fun pop of colour

Placement Tips:

Placement Tips
  • When measuring the maximum height, be sure to leave some room for your tree topper.
  • Check for the tree diameter on the label to make sure it will fit your space.
  • Opt for a slimmer tree in foyers, dining rooms or as a secondary tree.
  • Artificial trees designed for outdoors should be weather- and UV-resistant.
  • Many artificial trees are available with the lights pre-installed for easier setup.

Lighting Tips:

Lighting Tips
  • On average, you'll need about 100 incandescent lights per foot of tree for solid coverage, and a little less ratio for LED lights.
  • Look for bulbs that have burn-out protection and no-twist sockets, so that one faulty or twisted bulb won’t affect the rest of the bulbs.
  • Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is an independent testing agency that verifies lights are safe for use under designated conditions. Look for the UL listing on all your holiday lighting purchases.

Assembly Tips:

Assembly Tips
  • Refer to the instructions that came with your tree to learn which sections you should build first.
  • Shape your tree by bending the individual branches to create a full, natural look and uniform coverage.
  • Position the branches so the tips bend upwards in a slight arc for better support of hanging ornaments.
  • Stagger the branches as you bend the wire to fill in all spaces and prevent holes.

Safety & Maintenance Tips:

Safety & Maintenance Tips
  • Always inspect light strands and electrical cords for signs of damage before hanging them and discard defective strands.
  • Don’t overload electrical circuits or string more than the manufacturer-recommended number of strands together.
  • If you have small children or pets, take extra precautions to ensure your tree is sturdy and secure.
  • Always unplug lights when leaving the house or going to bed.
  • Buy a special storage bag for your tree to keep out dust and insects.
  • Wrap lights around a spool or piece of cardboard to prevent tangling.

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