Live Christmas trees are living trees with root balls that are decorated for Christmas and the holiday season and planted once they have outlived their usefulness. They have a number of advantages over cut Christmas trees and artificial trees, and some environmental organizations support the use of live Christmas trees when at all possible. Many nurseries carry live trees which can be used for the holidays, and it is also possible to order them through specialty companies. In some communities, live tree rental is an option.
One of the most obvious advantages of a live Christmas tree is that after Christmas, the tree can be planted. By planting a tree, people will directly contribute to the health of the environment, as trees help to sequester carbon dioxide and they also scrub the air. When strategically planted, a tree can also lower heating and cooling bills by helping to insulate a home.
By contrast, cut trees must be disposed of after the holiday season. When mulched, cut trees are reasonably low-impact, but if they are burned or disposed of in landfills, this can hurt the environment. Artificial trees are often produced in environmentally unfriendly ways, and when they are too tattered to use, they are typically disposed of in landfills, thereby adding to overall landfill capacity.
In the home, live Christmas trees help to scrub the air during the holidays, which can be an advantage when the house is crowded with family. The risk of fire is also reduced with a live tree, and live trees release their resinous scent throughout the holiday, staying fresh, green, and beautiful. Live Christmas trees also come in a range of sizes, from small trees designed for the tabletop to mammoths which can be installed in foyers and lobbies.
Small live Christmas trees can be kept in pots and reused for several years, and shaped with regular pruning, becoming part of the permanent décor of the home. Larger trees can be planted after the holidays. For people who do not have the space to plant trees, some cities offer live Christmas tree rental. The city or sponsoring organization delivers the tree at the beginning of the holidays, and takes it away for planting after the New Year. Christmas tree rental programs have been used to increase the population of urban trees in many cities while providing people who want live Christmas trees with a convenient option.