Choosing a Christmas Tree – Real versus Artificial

There are many debates that break out during the festive period – turkey or a different meat? Christmas at home or away? None are quite as topical as the tree debate – Artificial tree or real? We  all have our opinions on which we prefer and there is no right or wrong one, there are, however, pros and cons to consider for both. In this article, we look at some of those considerations to help you decide which tree might be right for you.


It’s important to measure the space in which you intend either type of tree to be situated before you buy one. Consider what you would like to top the tree with and leave a space between the ceiling and the top of your topper. The size of the room is important to consider too. A very large tree might dominate a smaller room whereas a small tree might look a bit lost in a larger room. If opting for an artificial tree, you will need to have the space to store the box for the rest of the year. Large trees equal large boxes!


Again, for either style of tree, the shape of the tree that you choose will help you to see how much room it will take up. A large, wide tree can work well in a spacious area or opt for a narrow or slim one for smaller, more cosy spaces. Many real trees fall into the category of ‘wide’ due to the way that they grow, even the smaller ones tend to need quite a bit of space. If you have restricted space but would love a real tree, opt for a Serbian or Omorika Spruce, a  newer type of real Christmas tree that offers a more slender shape than the traditional real trees.

Artificial trees come in a variety of shapes and sizes, mainly falling into full, slim, or even flatback, which as the name suggests, have a flat back to be placed against a wall. Perfect for smaller living areas, providing the look of a full tree without taking up the space. If you have never seen a flat back tree, don’t be put off by the name, they can be very effective! You can see some lovely examples of flatback trees here.

Maintenance, Care and Storage

A real tree will come with the needed for regular watering (every day) to keep it looking fresh and healthy throughout the festive period. A stand or pot will be needed for the trunk of the tree to stand in so that it can be watered. You will need to locate a real tree away from radiators and other heat sources or it will very quickly wilt. With a real tree, needles will inevitably drop, no matter how well you water your tree and look after it, so some regular cleaning will need to take place.

When buying a real tree, the needles should be flexible and not fall easily. You can check this for yourself by dropping it lightly on its stump. All evergreens shed some needles, but, if more than a few fall during this test then it is not fresh. A decent quality tree will feel heavy. Remember, the earlier you buy your tree, the less likely it will be looking at its best on Christmas Day.

Once the festive period is over, many local councils take the Christmas tree as part of a one-off collection for composting or if you have space, simply plant it in the garden to enjoy all year-round.

An artificial tree, apart from the initial set up and shaping of the tree, when there is always some fake foliage left on the floor, is pretty much maintenance free. Storing the tree to use again year can be a challenge. Many people choose to store them in the eaves of the garage or in the loft space. When packing your tree away, make sure you smooth the branches closed, and ensure it is stored in a cool and dry environment to avoid your tree acquiring a mustiness. Seal the box to prevent providing an ideal nesting place for pests and bugs. There are some great tree storage solutions, like this durable tree and decoration storage box from Ryman could provide the perfect protective place for your artificial tree.

Realism and Responsibility

You can’t get much more realistic than a real tree! The wonderful aroma of a real tree cannot be beaten too. Species such as the Nordmann Fir or Norway Spruce are the most commonly available and the most popular. If buying a real tree, try to buy from somewhere that plants a tree for every tree they cut down.

Many artificial trees emulate the look and feel of these real trees leading to many a person saying ‘Wait, is that a real tree?’ when faced with an artificial one. Although a high-quality artificial tree can be expensive, when you add up how many years the tree can be used against the cost of a real tree each year, it soon provides a cost-effective option.

So, there you have it. Our roundup of real versus artificial trees, if you are still struggling to decide which you should have, then we have a great solution – go for one of each, it is after all, the Season to Be Jolly!