We know you can’t get enough of that evergreen smell wafting from the living room this time of year, however it does seem a little odd to drag a dead tree in to your house and load it up with lights and delicate tchotchkes. A growing trend for Christmas trees is to rent a live one instead - eliminating the muss and fuss of disposing a dead tree while helping to green to your own community for years to come. Several groups give folks a chance to enjoy a living tree before the tree finds a permanent home - read on for a look at tree rental programs across the states!
In Los Angeles the Living Christmas Company, which is in its third year, will deliver an evergreen to your home and pick it up again. You pick your species and size and they do all the rest. Once the tree becomes too large they donate it to the Urban Reforestation Project, which is supported by carbon tax credits. Prices range from $25 for a 2 foot tree to $125 for an eight footer that is sure to make the neighbors jealous.
In Portland, Oregon the Original Living Christmas Tree Company has been renting trees for nineteen years. They deliver one of seven species to your front door for $90. After the holidays they pick it up and plant it in an urban park or garden to improve local watershed.
San Francisco has a bit of a twist on the concept by offering locally appropriate trees to rent. For $60 you can pick up a leafy conifer suitable for the warm wet climate, which is later donated to the Friends of the Urban Forest. The trees are planted on the famously hilly streets to help keep the air and water clean, provide habitat, cool the city down, and generally make everyone a bit happier.
Now most trees are not great about being indoors so there are a few things to consider: Being alive, tree like water — not too much but defiantly not too little. You’ll have to water every couple of days — if the needles start coming off its too late. Keep them away from hot spots like air registers and fireplaces, and in cold climates it’s suggested that a potted tree spend only five days indoors or the shock of putting it outside again could harm it.
If you are thinking of just buying a tree and planting it again, a word of caution from Jim Tolstrup, Director of the High Plains Environmental Center. Many species may look great but may not be suitable for your area and often do not survive the planting. He first recommends finding a locally appropriate tree that still looks good. In parts of the West, Douglas Fir trees are popular. The East Coast is great for the Balsam Fir, Eastern Red Cedars do great in the South, and Austrian Pines are a good choice around the Rockies. Another popular indoor plant is a sheared rosemary bush. He also does not recommend that the tree be indoors for very long, especially in cold regions, so instead Jim suggests planting the trees in your yard. You can then decorate them with edible garlands made from cranberries and popcorn and bird seed ornaments to create the ultimate green Christmas tree.