Don’t feel guilty about buying a real, cut Christmas tree

By Andy McIndoe


Some will head to the garden centre, some to a roadside stall and some to a grower in the country. Others will buy from the market, the supermarket or the home depot. Christmas trees are on sale everywhere in the month or so before the big day. Some of you, with all good intentions, will look for a tree with roots; one that can be kept from year to year. Maybe to save the annual expense, or maybe to save the planet.  Others opt for the artificial version: no mess and no deforestation!

2 Christmas trees

So, let’s get real. Christmas trees are a crop. They are planted, cultivated, pruned if necessary and harvested for sale. They grow in cold areas, usually on land that would never be suitable for food production. Once they’ve been harvested and the ground cleared another crop can be planted. They might be longer term than corn or cabbages but the principle is the same.

By not having a cut Christmas tree you are not saving a forest, or an established habitat that supports a myriad of species.  Conifer plantations are not bio diverse. Picea, abies and pinus, the main conifers grown for the Christmas tree market are resinous evergreens that do not create a natural woodland environment to encourage the establishment of a great range of flora and fauna.

3 Netting a tree

Those considering a tree with roots, with the objective of planting it in the garden afterwards, please think again.  The hardy tree you bring into the house will suffer indoors. It may survive, but it will have been under stress in the warmth of the house.  Planted in the garden it may recover, but do you really want it as a tree in your garden? Thankfully today we see less overgrown specimens of Picea abies dominating gardens than we did thirty years ago.

4 Potted Norway Spruce

I know some keep a Christmas tree in a pot for a few years and claim this is successful. Again I would have to say that you could choose something far more ornamental to enhance your garden for the other eleven months of the year.

5 Fraser fir

So what do you do with your cut tree after Christmas?  I admit this can be a problem.  If the tree is a Nordmann fir, Fraser fir, Noble fir or any of the no-needle drop types it should still be in good condition by twelfth night. That is if you cave kept it supplied with water and cut flower food – see my previous blog on the subject, Tie up the tree and take it to a recycling point – most local authorities now run schemes. The trees are shredded and used as mulch in amenity landscape planting schemes or the shredded waste is composted and mixed with green waste and used as soil conditioner – hopefully.

6 Christmas tree recycling

I know there are those that will disagree with my point of view, and please do say your piece below.  Good quality cut Christmas trees can seem expensive; I understand the surprise when you expect something to be cheap, but it isn’t. Your Christmas tree has been growing for several years. It has taken cultivation and care, and it has to be harvested and transported.  It hasn’t just happened in a magic forest somewhere near the North Pole. You only buy it once a year – this is the grower’s only harvest. Food for thought?

7 Nordmann Fir

Don’t feel guilty about buying a real, cut Christmas tree – nothing can beat the tradition of having a fresh cut evergreen in your home. I’m sorry but the artificial creations are not the same, even with those funny air fresheners hanging in them with that “real Christmas tree smell”.

Enjoy your fresh cut tree and have a very Happy Christmas!

8 Happy Christmas


Andy McIndoe

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