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Live Christmas Tree takes on a New Meaning for Tree Shoppers

December 12, 2011 Green Blog 1 Comment

Live Christmas Trees at Potomac Garden Center










December 12, 2011

Gaithersburg, Maryland

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Selecting a Christmas tree is part of an annual tradition this time of year.  Some cut down their own live tree, others select a pre-cut live tree from a myriad of varieties, while others buy artificial trees with hopes that the tree will last a long time.

For the eco-conscious, both faux and live trees are considered environmentally friendly alternatives, depending on the argument you take.

The recycler appreciates that the live tree gets recycled and made into mulch here in Montgomery County and is available for free to be re-used in landscaping.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), old live trees are used as a renewable resource.  For example, Christmas tree clippings are used in coastal communities such as Louisiana to decrease beach erosion; and in Michigan old trees have been used in Indiana to provide refuge for wildlife.

With 35 million Christmas trees cut down each year in the United States, the NCTA advocates for the use of live trees versus synthetic.  The NCTA says many fake Christmas trees are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and are harmful to health.

The faux Christmas tree owners believe they are reducing their carbon footprint and saving money.  They make one purchase rather than yearly purchases; and the fuel used to ship the Christmas trees to sales lots and to make the yearly trip is saved, along with the purchase cost of a new tree each year.

A new trend, though, is buying a live tree with a root ball, decorating it and then replanting it.  This consumer gets a live tree for the holiday and a live tree to add to the backyard.

American Plant and Potomac Garden Center are two stores in Montgomery County, Md that have seen an increase in demand for Douglas Fir, Alberta Spruce, Colorado Blue Spruce and others with root balls intact.  Both stores have been selling one to two trees each day this season, as more customers are asking for trees that can be replanted.

The price tag for some varieties that are six to seven feet with the root ball are comparable in price to cut live Christmas trees.

Taking care of a live tree with the root ball is not so different from maintaining a cut tree in one’s home.   According to Bear Bourgea, Potomac Garden Center nursery worker, the best way to keep the tree with a root ball alive is to water the roots.

“All you need to do is get a tub with bit of water and put the tree in there.  Decorate the top or tub and keep the ball watered,” says Bourgea.

Bourgea suggests keeping the ball of the tree covered with a sac that remains on the ball until it is ready to be planted.  If the ground is frozen, the tree can be kept alive by covering the root ball with hay or plastic so it will not freeze.

For those who buy a cut live tree this season, remember to put your tree out curbside on recycling day starting December 26, 2011 through February 3, 2012.

All trees picked up by Montgomery County Recycling and the City of Gaithersburg are turned into wood chips that Montgomery County residents can have for free. Visit http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/swstmpl.asp?url=/content/dep/solidwaste/store/mulch.asp for a mulch preserve location near you.




Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AKIko Darcey says:

    Great article!
    When I cut our fresh tree, I always felt guilty throwing such a giant tree at the curve after a month or two.
    Now I know that those trees are recycled for something useful, and we can even “rent” a fresh tree next year!
    Thanks for sharing, Alex.
    It is really nice to know how our local agencies respond to this kind of environmental issues.

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