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Potted Christmas trees bring (almost) all the holiday vibes without the waste : NPR

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Monica Hudson said she has to be very careful with pruning because errors take longer to develop for trees living in pots.

Rent a Christmas tree


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Rent a Christmas tree

Potted Christmas trees bring (almost) all the holiday vibes without the waste : NPR

Monica Hudson said she has to be very careful with pruning because errors take longer to develop for trees living in pots.

Rent a Christmas tree

When I was a child, a year ago, my parents bought a spruce tree for our garden. But before we planted it, the three-foot tree had another role to play: our family’s Christmas tree. My mother pulled the conifer inside and we adorned its branches with ornaments. While it was festive and admittedly adorable, I remember being somewhat offended that instead of a traditional Christmas tree from a batch, our little little tree was still tucked away in its nursery planter.

What I saw as an elementary school student as a Christmas crime of opportunity is becoming a more common sight in some homes: potted Tannenbaums. These trees, both reusable and authentic, provide an authentic feel to consumers looking for an eco-friendly tree.

How trees go from the ground to your living room

Monica Hudson, originally from Switzerland, came up with the idea of ​​lending Christmas trees in 2009. Hudson has worked as a freelance historical guide in Carmel, California at the time, but business had slowed due to the recession. She saw on TV that a garden shop in Britain was renting trees, and she took the idea and ran with it. By the holiday season of the same year, she had 500 trees, about two-thirds of which ended up in homes that Christmas.

Today, his business, Rent A Christmas Tree, has about 1,000 trees growing for renters in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area and California’s Central Coast. They remain in their pots all year round, connected to a drip irrigation system. Most of them are reserved for Thanksgiving, Hudson told NPR. About 300 trees remain behind that are not big enough or good enough to loan out.

Potted Christmas trees bring (almost) all the holiday vibes without the waste : NPR

Monica’s Husky-German Shephard mix, Heidi, is the company’s official welcome and CDO: Chief Dog Officer.

Rent a Christmas tree


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Rent a Christmas tree

Potted Christmas trees bring (almost) all the holiday vibes without the waste : NPR

Monica’s Husky-German Shephard mix, Heidi, is the company’s official welcome and CDO: Chief Dog Officer.

Rent a Christmas tree

Customers order their trees online, where they can choose their tree based on species, height and price. Then the trees are delivered to their home or business for a period of 30 days, after which they are picked up. This makes the trees accessible to seniors and business owners who don’t have the ability to put one up themselves, Hudson said.

“There’s no crawling around the ground to see if it’s straight, crawling under it to water it,” Hudson said — her trees come with a funnel to make daily watering easier. “It’s ready for you to turn on the lights.”

It is very rare that one of the rented trees is stolen or killed. Only three have been stolen in 13 years in business, and those were largely due to customers leaving their trees in the wrong place to be picked up, Hudson said. Otherwise, about 2% of trees die each year from dehydration, despite signing a waiver promising to water them daily. Hudson described it as a big loss, because the trees take a long time to grow: It can take about 10 years to grow a six-foot tree.

Potted Christmas trees bring (almost) all the holiday vibes without the waste : NPR

Seasonally hired delivery drivers can transport about 30 trees at a time to homes or meeting places.

Rent a Christmas tree


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Rent a Christmas tree

Potted Christmas trees bring (almost) all the holiday vibes without the waste : NPR

Seasonally hired delivery drivers can transport about 30 trees at a time to homes or meeting places.

Rent a Christmas tree

The impact of the Christmas tree industry

The environmental impact of growing Christmas trees is complicated and depends on factors such as how far the trees travel, how they are watered, and the types of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides used.

The National Christmas Tree Association points out on its website that real trees are grown as crops, not harvested from a forest, and that seedlings are planted in place of each cut.

“Real Christmas trees are a natural, renewable and recyclable product grown on farms across North America,” the association said. “Fake Christmas trees, however, are a non-renewable, non-biodegradable, plastic and metal product, most often made in overseas factories.”

In many places, potted Christmas trees aren’t much of an option, said Chal Landgren, a Christmas tree specialist at Oregon State University. He told NPR that in some climates, the temperature shock between the freezing outside and the hot inside will kill certain tree species.

Lienna Hoeg is a Christmas tree specialist at the Perennia Food and Agriculture Corporation in Nova Scotia, where cold temperatures prevent indoor potted trees. She recommends environmentally conscious shoppers look for a nearby tree farm or retail lot to reduce fuel emissions. At the end of the season, roadside tree collection will aid in responsible disposal. Alternatively, people can put the tree in their garden for wildlife or give it to farms for goats to nibble on.

Hoeg said for every tree harvested in Nova Scotia, another one to three trees are planted or grown. The Christmas tree industry provides about 4,000 full-time and part-time jobs each year in Nova Scotia, supporting about 1,100 families, she said.

“Few people know that for every acre of Christmas trees, daily oxygen can be produced for 18 people. If you use or buy an artificial tree, you will need to use that tree for 20 years for it to have the same environmental impact like a natural Christmas tree,” she told NPR in an email.

The benefits of a potted Christmas tree

For Hudson, the benefits of a living tree are not just about the environment. There’s the practicality, because living trees don’t drop needles that need to be cleaned up like cut trees do. They look fresh and produce oxygen.

There is also a feel-good factor, she explained; customers know their tree won’t end up in the trash after Christmas Day. Instead, they’ll probably end up like the spruce of my own childhood: planted in the ground.

“Because once the trees are too big to rent, they’re planted,” Hudson said. “So we educate our clientele that not only do they have a living tree, but they really add to the beauty of the state.”

For example, Rent A Christmas Tree is trying to lend more California redwoods, which are native to the area and can live for hundreds or even thousands of years. They can be donated to help reforest areas that have been affected by wildfires, Hudson explained.

For those wishing to rent a Christmas tree, there is one important thing that living trees do not do. They don’t smell quite as much as Christmas.

“When you buy a cut dead tree, it gasses away as it dies, and that smell you love for Christmas is actually the smell of its death,” Hudson said. To get that strong, fresh pine smell? “We recommend that customers get balm wreath.”



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