Artificial vs. Real Christmas Trees: The ‘Greener’ Choice

The holiday season is in full swing! Many people have already purchased a Christmas tree for their home, or will be bringing one home soon. The world we live in is ever-shifting towards a more Eco-conscious one, but does that carry over to holiday decor choices as well? I recently overheard a discussion regarding whether or not one should purchase an artificial Christmas tree in order to lessen their impact on the environment. The quick answer: no! Although there are many benefits to owning an artificial tree (no need to water it, many are pre-lit, etc.) being ‘greener’ than a natural tree is not one of them.

The most common misconception about artificial trees is that since they are reused year after year, they must be better for the environment than cutting down a new Christmas tree each year. There have been various studies proving this wrong, such as Ellipsos Inc. “Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Christmas trees, A study ends the debate over which Christmas tree, natural or artificial, is most ecological. This study took into account many factors pertinent to the environmental impact of a natural Christmas tree versus that of an artificial tree, and found that an artificial tree would have to stick around for 20 years to be considered more Eco-friendly than a natural tree!

Sure, it takes energy to grow a natural tree from a seedling. However, they’re considered carbon neutral due to the amount of carbon they scrub from the air over their lifetime. Natural Christmas trees take up land and use nutrients from the soil, it’s true. The land they’re planted on is often times unsuitable for other crops, though, and often times provides valuable green space near cities that would otherwise have been developed years ago. Many people feel guilty about cutting down a tree only to discard it after the holidays, but keep in mind that these trees are grown specifically for that purpose. Unlike artificial Christmas trees, which aren’t recyclable and will spend centuries in a landfill, most natural trees are ‘treecycled’ and used for mulch, erosion control, or soil additives.

I could go on and on, but truth be told there are many reasons people choose the Christmas tree that’s best for their family. Some families decorate potted plants instead of a traditional tree, and some have multiple trees throughout the house. There are even services for renting live Christmas trees with roots and all! Whatever your family’s tradition, the most important thing is enjoying your holiday season with those who matter most.

Fall: Perfect Time to Plant Your Florida Landscape

It’s no secret that many of Florida’s residents are originally from a state north of here. This is most likely why so many people have an aversion to installing their landscape design in fall and winter. Having grown up in Wisconsin, I can attest to the fact that planting something before a long winter of freezing temperatures is a sure way to kill your investment! The truth is, the perfect time for most planting in Jacksonville is now! We have a unique climate here in Northeast Florida in that it is hot and humid enough in summer for tropical plants, but cold enough in winter to damage and potentially kill the more sensitive tropical plants. With the exception of these tropicals, cooler temperatures are ideal for planting because it allows the newly planted landscape to establish a healthy root system before the stress of summer’s heat rolls around.

Don’t get me wrong, you can install your landscape any time of year here in Jacksonville. If you want more tropical plants in your yard it is best to wait until spring when there is no chance of a freeze. If you plant everything in the middle of summer, all it means is you will have to be more diligent with watering. The best thing you can do, whether you are adding a few plants to your garden by yourself or having a landscape contractor do it for you, is ask how often you need to water those plants to get them established. We have a lot of great landscape resources on the First Coast so don’t hesitate to use them! Happy Gardening!

Successful Installation Starts with a Sound Design

One of the most frustrating things that can happen to a homeowner is having to redo something they just paid for. Equally frustrating…tearing up a new patio or rebuilding a wall because no one planned for things like lighting, irrigation or electrical. Even if a homeowner doesn’t have the budget to install their dream yard right away, it’s important to create a full design including all of the design elements they could ever hope for, so that as they add to the project it doesn’t look like things were carelessly piecemealed. More importantly, it reduces the risk of having to pay someone to redo pavers that were just laid a year or two ago.

Any time we meet with homeowners for a consultation, we do our best to determine what their ‘dream’ outdoor living space contains. Maybe they can only afford to install a fraction of it at the time, but it’s important to know what the end destination is so we can plan accordingly. For instance, it wouldn’t be advisable to plant a large tree in the middle of the yard if the homeowners would like to build a pool in a few years…moving large trees isn’t fun!

When you start with detailed design it is sure to pay off in the long run. A little bit of foresight goes a long way!