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!

Event Space Opens at Trad's Garden Center

We’ve been talking about our display at Trad’s Garden Center on San Jose for quite some time now. Well, the time has come to announce that it is open for business! The event space has been a long time in the making, but seeing it now makes the wait well worth it. A few weeks ago the space was utilized for the first time by Slow Food First Coast for their membership meeting. The 50 or so people had plenty of room to mingle comfortably, shade from the beautiful arbor, soothing music from the outdoor speakers and delicious food prepared by Art Jeannette of Checker’s BBQ & Seafood. Art prepared everything right in the outdoor kitchen and was quite pleased with the space! It was so great to finally see the event space being used to its fullest potential. Whether you’re planning an event, considering adding an outdoor living space to your home, or simply curious to see what the First Coast’s finest contractors are capable of constructing make sure to stop by Trad’s 8178 San Jose Blvd. 32217 to take a look at the space! See you there!


Special thanks to: Tropical Pavers of Jacksonville (Flooring and Retaining Walls), Tremron Group (Pavers & Retaining Wall Block), Tile Market of San Marco (Tumbled Limestone), The Master Carpenter (Woodwork), Living Stone Creations (Stonework), Johnson Landscape Lighting (Lighting), Kichler (Chandelier), LiveWire Technologies (Sound System), AmeriGas (Appliances) & All American Grill Store (Kamado Joe)

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!

It's Home & Patio Show Time Again!

There’s only a little more than a week until the Fall Home & Patio Show, and we are excited! As in the past, we are teaming up with Trad’s Garden Center, but this time we’re doing something a little different. Although we’ve loved all of our Home & Patio Show designs so far they’ve all been lush, natural looking gardens jam packed with plants. This time we’re going the opposite direction…clean lines, showcase pottery, less plants! We can’t wait to get it all set up and see how it looks. It will be a long few days with lots of standing, but it’s always a good time!

FNGLA Meeting – Northeast Chapter

This past Tuesday we attended the Northeast FNGLA chapter meeting at the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens. We were there as the guests of Robert Sanford, Sanford’s Landscape & Irrigation, and everyone was very welcoming. The group was scheduled to take a tour of the zoo, specifically their new butterfly exhibit, but unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas! Despite the weather (and the fact that there would be no tour!) a good sized crowd gathered to network, enjoy tasty food, and of course conduct business. We were fortunate enough to be present for the meeting at which the new officers were installed! We so enjoyed our time with the group, that we have decided to become members. We were fairly certain we would join the group, but when Leah won one of the raffle prizes we knew it was meant to be. 😉 

We look forward to becoming an active part of the organization, and forming lasting relationships with other members in our area, and statewide!

Trad's Garden Center Event Space

Quite some time ago, we approached Chris Trad of Trad’s Garden Center about some empty space on his property. We asked him “What if we designed an event space, and got it built for you using the highest quality craftsmen in all of NE Florida?” Chris replied “Sounds great; it’ll never happen!” Fast forward to today…there is a wonderful 50’x70′ paved event space that is already being put to good use! Tropical Pavers of Jacksonville installed the flooring and retaining walls, using products from Tremron and Tile Market of San Jose. The current project underway is the outdoor kitchen. It is so exciting watching it come to life! The foundation was poured by Concrete Slabs and More, and will soon we wrapped in beautiful stacked stone. It features appliances from Sawyer Gas, and a stunning sound system from Live Wire. The Master Carpenter is using his incredible skill to complete the woodwork that will support the gorgeous countertops Living Stone Creations is installing soon. It has been so much fun working with all these talented companies to create a space for everyone to enjoy. We can’t wait to finish up the outdoor kitchen and host a big barbeque! If you haven’t been to Trad’s in a while, you really should stop in and check the garden center out. Just make sure to bring your umbrella if you visit within the next few days!

Spring Has Sprung

The weather has been warmer than usual, and that means people are spending more time outside. Therefore, thoughts quickly turn to the potential a backyard holds, and what the homeowner wishes it looked like. That is why it’s not even March (Happy Leap Day!) and we are already busy with lots of great clients! We are thrilled to have signed 4 new clients within the last week or so! We love being able to interact with so many different personalities. Whether a client wants a Secluded Mediterranean Pool Courtyard, or a Quaint English Garden, we do our best think outside the box and incorporate unique features into each design. We are very lucky to be able to work with such wonderful homeowners and help create spaces they love to spend time in.

Next week is the 2012 Spring Home & Patio Show, and I’m sure we will meet many more awesome individuals there. If we’re already this busy now, I can’t imagine what our schedule will look like after the Home & Patio Show is over! We love a good challenge and can’t wait to see what the coming months hold.

Home & Patio Show 2012!

We are already starting to prepare for the 2012 Spring Home & Patio Show! We will be teaming up with Trad’s Garden Center to create

a stunning display. At past shows we’ve hung life sized backdrops, laid travertine floors, installed sod…come see what we think of this year!

The show will be March 8-11, 2012 at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Downtown.