Real or Fake? The great tree conundrum

So all your neighbors have decorated for the holidays, but you're still struggling with a crucial decision: Real or fake?
Alex Aspacher
Nov 30, 2011


So all your neighbors have decorated for the holidays, but you’re still struggling with a crucial decision: Real or fake?

The smell of a real tree might take you back to your childhood, but what about the mess? What about the environmental impact?

Is an artificial tree better? Or is it worse when you consider the overseas manufacturing?

For some, picking a tree may just come down to tradition.

Julie Barnes, an owner of Barnes Nursery in Huron, said families start coming to pick up real trees the weekend after Thanksgiving.

“I was raised with the tradition where the whole family goes to the lot and picks out a tree,” Barnes said. “I think a lot of others were too, and for me, there’s no substitute for the scent of a real tree.”

Twenty-seven million real trees with retail value of almost $1 billion were purchased in 2010, according to a Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the National Christmas Tree Association. The organization reports that farm-grown trees outsell artificial ones by almost three to one.

Howard Smith, an owner of Country Hill Tree Farm in North Fairfield, said sales of real trees are up from last year. He credited the growth to an increased advertising efforts and the lasting tradition of farm-grown trees.

“You just can’t get that smell from anything that’s not a natural Christmas tree,” Smith said.

Country Hill charges $5-8 per foot for its locally grown trees, Smith said. He said it makes sense to go natural because trees are a renewable resource that help clean the air and produce oxygen.

A four-foot, pre-lit artificial tree starts around $150, though bargain hunters can find better sales.

Determining which type of tree is more environmentally friendly is complicated, and the source of much debate between real tree growers and those who sell their artificial counterparts.

Factors in determining the environmental impact, some of which cannot accurately be measured, include transportation costs. Artificial trees are typically shipped to U.S. stores from overseas. Families can buy real trees locally, but there is an impact in driving to get the tree year after year.

The American Christmas Tree Association, which supports companies who sell artificial trees, claims artificial trees are better. A study from the organization, however, shows fake trees need to be used annually for 20 years or longer for the benefits of their longevity to show.

The National Christmas Tree Association, which supports real tree growers, says real trees are the way to go because they aren’t made with environmentally damaging plastics.

Although some will never give up the nostalgia of a real evergreen, the convenience of artificial trees has affected Barnes Nursery in recent years. Barnes now carries about half the natural trees it carried 10 years ago, Barnes estimated.

That hasn't stopped the nursery from setting up fake trees of its own inside its store to display products like Christmas ornaments.

“There’s really no argument against their convenience,” Barnes said.



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I would go with fake......They will still be nice, perky and ready to be decorated even into their 60's

Phil Packer

Screw the neighbors.


I go to the Kids for christmas eve where everything is......

Then go home and hook up the trailer go to bed get up shut house down 50 degrees turn water off drain pipes.......

Christmas morning take your time float on in to FLORIDA next stop Fort Meyers beach buy the 29th............

Where I will meet up with 6 more people from SANDUSKY,OHIO..........

Happy New Year...........

I failed to see a tree real or not any place in this comment..........



that wasn't an attack, that was a fact!


I prefer a live tree.  I like the old-fashioned, traditional feel of going to a tree farm and taking forever to pick out the perfect tree.  It makes me remember the good old days.



I too enjoy a real tree however I remind everyone who prefers a real tree to make sure it does not go dry! The dangers can be seen on this link:

Stay fire safe this Christmas season!!

“Hey Griswold. Where do you think you’re gonna put a tree that big?”   ………“Bend over and I’ll show you!”   I prefer live trees. I remember those beautiful fake silver/aluminum trees, a spinning color wheel sat in front of. “ Looked like pipe cleaners”

I personally like live trees, they do not choke fish or birds unlike those plastic trees you know are made from beer six pack holders that have blood on them from all the asphxiated birds and fish while floating around before being recycled. I refuse to have a instrument of death decorated with 15 pounds of angel hair in my living room. I would much rather destroy a forest for a real tree so i can enjoy 20 days of sleepless nights wondering if my tree is going to spontaneously combust because a dog tinkled on the light socket.


 origen.....This may be my last year putting up a tree, thanks to your comment. Any thoughts on presents ??? I just need a good excuse not to buy those next year..Oh wait, I wont have anywhere to put the presents,since I wont have a tree...This whole dilema is solved..Thanks ! Lol



Our family always has a fake tree.  I am allergic to the pollen in the real trees.   Love the new pre-lit thing too, makes christmas so much more enjoyable when I am not stressing out with the strings of lights that have become a ball of KNOTS over the summer.


Last I checked they don’t destroy the forest for live trees. 98% come from one of the 21,000 Christmas tree farms. 73 million new trees planted on average, but nice hugger- fear tactic. I have had live trees as long as I can remember, never burned the house down yet; called common sense.



LOL!! Ill have you know i am not a tree hugger in any sense, But i am glad to know i AM a part of the 2%ers. (God willing i will not wake up with a yard full of hippies protesting me)


if you can't decide and have a family room and a living room: get a real one for one room and a fake for the other: then everyone is satisfied.  Or if you have a problem with a cut tree buy a potted tree as your real one and plant the sucker after christmas. You just have to remember to water it.  Merry Christmas to all...and to all a good nite. 


Live is best, the smell, the look, the fun of picking one out. I remember in the 1960's a fresh tree could be had for $4 dollars. My father would dig a tree and then plant it after Christmas. Those trees are still alive and taller than the house! My dad is gone, but those Christmas trees still live on.