For me, being an outdoor family is not just about enjoying nature, wildlife and adventures, it’s also about the environment and planet conservation , which may not seem an obvious link to buying a real Christmas tree each year!


I have to confess to several occasions of empathetic sadness on behalf of the Christmas tree – I know, I know, but it’s true – I love a real tree for its delicious scent and its ability to bring the outdoors in. So, tree-hugging aside, I always have a real Christmas tree at home.

Why Buy a Real Christmas Tree?

Real Christmas trees: –

  • smell and look great
  • bring nature indoors
  • are great for the environment
  • create a real Christmassy, hygge atmosphere
  • burn brilliantly on a Twelfth Night January firepit!

OK, you need to vacuum a bit more but that’s a small price to pay.


If you don’t need persuading to buy a real tree, scroll to the bottom for my top tips on avoiding needle drop and how to keep your tree fresh and healthy for the whole holiday season. Otherwise read on.

How can real Christmas trees help protect the planet?

Save The Planet

Buying a real tree is REALLY good for the environment.

In the UK we buy an estimated 6 million Christmas trees a year*  of which 80% are Nordman Firs (best for needle retention), 15% are Norway Spruce (best scent) and the rest are lesser known varieties like the Lodgepole Pine.

Nordman Fir branch close up
A Nordman Fir

Most trees have been grown for 8 to 12 years – that’s a LOT of time producing oxygen and benefiting the environment by sheltering birds and wildlife.

Buying real trees helps reduce plastic and has a far smaller carbon footprint.

*Harry Brightwell, British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA).

Reasons Not To Fake It

Artificial Christmas trees can look great but most are imported from China, generating a large carbon footprint.

Pretty but plastic – not for me thanks

Artificial trees can’t be recycled so even if you use yours year after year it will eventually end up in landfill.

The Carbon Trust states “A real pine or fir tree naturally absorbs Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and releases oxygen…The Carbon Trust estimates that a 2 metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint around 40kg CO2e, more than ten times that of real trees that are burnt.”

If you really don’t want a real Christmas tree, please don’t buy plastic, make a driftwood tree instead – I’ve written a really simple tutorial in how to make a driftwood tree, or try this amazing book tree…

Image of pile of colourful books stacked on table in shape of a Christmas Tree decorated with Christmas fairy lights and star on top of tree

Needle Mail

Do you know a serial artificial Christmas tree user who could use a little persuasion to buy real this year?!


Fill in the Forestry Commission’s Needle Mail form and they will send an enticing needle-scented letter to encourage people to ditch the plastic! Brilliant.

Buy British

growninbritain banner showing tree silhouettes with Union flag superimposed on top

Buying British-grown means your money returns directly to our economy and helps create jobs in the agricultural sector. Also, BCTGA members have to comply with regulations ensuring tree quality and optimum growing conditions so you’ll get better quality, fresher trees.

Find a British-Grown Christmas Tree Seller Near You

Click for British Christmas Tree Growers Association sellers.

Click for Forestry Commission sellers.

Alternatively source a locally grown tree from a small-scale sustainable producer. This Woodland Trust article has more info.

Many BCTGA sellers have shops and attractions and some of the Forestry Commission’s 16 sites have Christmas trails – their trees are all sustainably produced, UK-grown and Santa approved! They plant a new tree for every one harvested and can be ordered online for home delivery.

Get a Free Tree!

Forestry Commission also give a free baby Christmas tree with every purchase, highlighting the importance of sustainable forestry.

How To Choose The perfect Tree

A healthy real Christmas tree will: –

  • be a fresh healthy green with few brown needles
  • have flexible needles that don’t fall off if you run a branch through your hand or knock the butt of the trunk on the floor


Top Tips For Real Christmas Tree Care

I usually buy cut trees but did once tried a rooted one. It thrived throughout Christmas but I forgot the post-season re-acclimatisation – with disastrous consequences! Here is a summary of the best way to look after a real Christmas Tree, whether cut or pot grown.

Cut Trees

Treat cut trees like a bunch of flowers!

  • Cut the base to open the tree’s veins, which seal after being cut in the field
  • Immerse in a bucket of water for 24 hours in a warm (not hot) area of your house. As the tree warms up it will take up a lot of water
  • Transfer into a stand or tree container
  • Water regularly
  • The tree will take the maximum amount of water in the first 24 hours but will continue to take up water for 2-3 weeks provided it doesn’t dry out
  • If the tree runs out of water you need to re-cut the base
  • Avoid standing near direct heat i.e. radiators and fires
  • The cooler you keep it, the longer it will last
  • Recycle after Christmas. See our post 12 Great Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree for inspiration.

Pot Grown Trees

Pot grown trees have a full root ball and can be used year after year with the right TLC:-

  • Gradually acclimatise it to the heat of the house over several days, starting in a shed or garage, then a cool room
  • Water daily once inside
  • After Christmas place in a cold, frost-free area such as a shed or garage
  • DO NOT put the tree straight outside as this will shock and kill it. I know this for a fact..!
  • Re-pot in spring into a bigger bucket
  • Feed
  • Keep soil moist, especially when the tree is flushing, usually in May, but don’t drown
  • Manage as per azaleas

Time to bring in the tree!

Why not post a picture of your decorated tree on our Facebook page.