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Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees

In this article series we’ve discussed the environmental drawbacks of city trees, artificial trees and water conservation efforts, and regulated plants and trees. There’s another area where the real versus artificial debate comes up a lot – Christmas trees.

 

The logical assumption is that cutting down a live tree has to be better for the environment than purchasing an artificial Christmas tree. This is largely true, but there are some surprising factors that can change the expected outcome.

 

The most environmentally friendly options are living trees that are harvested from tree farms and replanted after the holidays. This method still uses many resources and can have a negative environmental impact, though.

 

We don’t usually consider the gas we use to drive to and from a Christmas tree farm, or what is required to grow and sustain the trees, or the bundling/packaging materials utilized in transporting the tree. These things, however, all contribute to the overall eco footprint of a live Christmas tree.

 

The next best choice is a live tree – from a farm – that is disposed of in an ecologically responsible way. Most cities offer tree recycling programs, which grind down trees into wood chips that can be used for mulch, insulation, and soil erosion barriers. Trees can also be placed in backyards and private ponds to return nutrients to the earth and provide habitats and feeding areas for wildlife. DIY types can even use their Christmas tree trunk and foliage for making furniture, crafts, and decor!

 

Burning trees, or disposing of them in landfills, is not recommended. Burning a tree returns its carbon content to the air as carbon dioxide. When added to landfills, trees decompose and return to the environment as methane. Both of these end results can completely negate any ecological benefits from utilizing real trees versus fake ones.

 

There are even situations where artificial trees are the more environmentally friendly choice. It all comes down to the lifespan of the tree.

 

In 2018, the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) did a comprehensive study titled “Life Cycle Assessment: Comparative LCA of the Environmental Impacts of Real Christmas and Artificial Christmas Trees”. They found that 4.7 years is the crucial timeframe:

 

“Given the quantification of environmental impacts across both of the trees’ life cycles, a comparative assertion shows the breakeven point between the two trees is 4.7 years.

 

That is to say an artificial tree purchased and used for at least 4.7 years demonstrates a lower contribution to environmental impact than 4.7 real Christmas trees purchased over 4.7 years.

 

This assertion considers all end of life scenarios for the real Christmas tree, and assumes that a customer of an artificial tree would purchase the tree and keep it for 5 or more years.

 

The breakeven point can change based on the environmental metrics and end-of-life scenarios, but considering the most conservative calculations, purchasing an artificial tree and keeping it for 4.7 years is less environmentally impactful than purchasing the equivalent amount of real Christmas trees.”

 

To summarize, here’s how the real vs. artificial Christmas tree options rank in terms of eco-friendliness:

 

  1. Live tree from Christmas tree farm, repotted and kept alive all year
  2. Artificial Christmas tree kept and used at least five years
  3. New tree from a Christmas tree farm every year, recycled or placed outdoors afterwards
  4. Wild tree cut from forest, recycled or placed outdoors afterwards
  5. New tree from a Christmas tree farm every year, disposed of in landfill or bonfire

 

Cutting down trees from forest areas is not recommended, due to extreme deforestation worldwide. It’s not a concern in many areas, but the Earth needs as many living planted trees as possible.

 

TreeScapes & PlantWorks are commited to helping the environment, one tree at a time. That’s why we will donate to have at least one tree planted for every fabricated, replica, or preserved tree we sell!

 

We’ve partnered with the charitable organization One Tree Planted to do our part for the planet. Visit their website to see how you can help with their reforestation efforts too.

Real vs. Artificial Trees in the City

When are artificial trees better than natural trees? The answer might surprise you! There’s no denying that living trees are an important resource in the fight against climate change.

 

New research, though, has found situations where fabricated trees and plants are better options than real live trees and plants.

 

Trees offer an incredible array of benefits, including shade, wildlife habitats, water regulation, air cooling, and visual appeal. Their most crucial feature may be their ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide emissions.

 

These emissions are driving global heating, which is a huge problem for all living things. That’s why we always have to consider the environment when debating the pros and cons of real trees versus fake trees.

 

Real vs. Artificial Trees in Urban Areas

 

Many cities have started tree planting initiatives to add more living greenery in urban areas. Unfortunately, recent studies indicate that these urban trees aren’t resulting in net gains for the environment.

 

“Street trees take many years to pay their way on carbon costs. Emissions associated with nursery production, planting, irrigation, pruning, removal and disposal are high. Street trees must survive for between 26 and 33 years to attain carbon neutrality.”

 

Urban Trees Grow Fast and Die Young – The Guardian

 

Urban environments are great for nurturing the quick growth of young trees. They usually offer more light, carbon dioxide, and longer growing seasons than rural environments. What the ecosystem really needs, though, are older, mature trees.

 

As the street trees grow, they encounter size-related risks such as limited root space, excessive pruning, and removal due to hazard risk and development.

 

“Through rapid growth rates, street trees have the ability to sequester carbon and potentially provide other ecosystem services, such as evaporative cooling, more efficiently than rural trees,” the researchers write.

 

Currently, these benefits are not fully realized due to the high mortality suffered by street trees.”

 

The study indicates that urban trees are rarely able to sustain life for the minimum 26 years needed to offset their carbon footprints. The ideal solution would be planting trees that are already older and sturdier, or adjusting environments to create safer living conditions.

 

This isn’t always an option, though. That’s particularly true for cities that are counting on trees as affordable ways to improve the health and property values of their surroundings.

 

One solution? Artificial trees!

 

They offer the same biophilic appeal, design/decor functions, and shade. They’re much more durable than living trees, though, and they don’t require any water. Planting live trees in rural and deforested areas and using artificial exterior trees in urban areas is a great way to be eco-friendly.

 

TreeScapes & PlantWorks are commited to helping the environment, one tree at a time. That’s why we will donate to have at least one tree planted for every fabricated, replica, or preserved tree we sell!

 

We’ve partnered with the charitable organization One Tree Planted to do our part for the planet. Visit their website to see how you can help with their reforestation efforts too.

Black Olive Trees

Black Olive Tree History

The Black Olive Tree (Bucida buceras) is a tropical tree native to Central America and most of the Caribbean, though some experts believe its origins may have reached north to the Florida Keys.

 

Usage

Before gaining commercial popularity for ornamental use, it was primarily used as a source for lumber, as the trunk is dense, heavy and very close grained. It is a favorite choice of wood for boat builders. 

 

Appearance

Generally, Black Olive Trees will reach heights ranging from 20 to 80 feet, and develop strong, sturdy, large diameter trunks covered by a thick, dense gray, deeply fissured bark. The tree canopy grows dense and tight, with most branching spreading outward and horizontally.

 

Small, smooth, oval leaves emerge a light/medium green, and mature to a deep, slightly blue toned green. They grow along unusual zig-zagged formed stems. Some trees also grow a sharp thorn-like spine on old growth behind the leaf node. Tiny yellowish-green to golden-beige petal-less flowers cover the entire canopy. It spouts an inedible fruit that is attractive to birds.

 

Growth & Durability

As a whole, the species is highly salt tolerant. It puts down deep anchoring roots, making it able to endure high winds with little damage. Breakage within the canopy and the loss of geotropism (knowing up from down, and which way to grow) was also called out as a fault in this species following examination after intense hurricanes.

 

However, in the overall, Black Olive Trees held up as well as any other species, and better than most. The root system grows deep and downward and does not spread outward, so this tree can be safely planted within 6 to 8 feet of walls, sidewalks, and other appurtenances without fear of future problems developing.

 

The Shady Lady Black Olive grows more dense, tight, uniform, and it is smaller, growing to an average of 20 to 30 feet at maturity it is even better suited for street, parking lot, and other commercial and urban applications.

 

Black Olive Tree Fruit

Despite the common name, this tree (Bucida buceras) is completely unrelated to the edible olive (Olea europaea). The Black Olive nomer is likely the result of the vague resemblance of the fruit to the familiar edible olive (mostly round with a single seed). The fruit of Bucida buceras, however, has little pulp and is not edible.

 

Artificial Black Olive Trees

Treescapes & PlantWorks create Black Olive Tree trunks is one of two different ways. We either use one or more natural wood tree trunks, or we custom design and construct steel inner-core tree trunks with bark castings made from real trees. The advantage to our custom designed trees and trunks is that are tailored to meet our customer’s exact size and color requirements.

 

We have built trees at 6’ in overall height as well as those that have towered more than 30’ above the ground level. Additionally, we have constructed trees with various canopy shapes and varying foliage densities.

 

Our artificial foliage comes with variegated leaf coloring bringing forth botanically accurate shading and detail. We offer inherently fire retardant foliage for indoor use as well as ultraviolet inhibiting foliage for outdoor applications.

 

Our faux replica Black Olive Trees and fabricated Black Olive Trees are suitable for many design styles, and they have been installed in restaurants and hotels across the world! If you’re interested in a fabricated or replica Black Olive Tree for your next hospitality or décor project, contact us today for further details.

 

References:

“It’s All About Balance – The Story of Black Olive Tree” – Emerald Garden Goddess

“Bucida buceras” – Florida Gardener

“How to Maintain a Shady Lady Tree” – SF Gate

artificial black olive tree, artificial olive tree sale, replica olive tree at Kennesaw School in Georgia
Black Olive Tree Photo Gallery

You Buy a Tree, We Plant a Tree!

TreeScapes and PlantWorks are pleased to announce a new partnership with One Tree Planted!

 

We’re known for our beautiful fabricated, replica, and preserved trees for design and décor needs. We’re proud of our creations, but we also love and appreciate living trees. We’re excited to partner with One Tree Planted and increase our corporate social responsibility initiatives.

 

One Tree Planted is an environmental charity, non-profit organization that supports global reforestation. We’re doing a corporate partnership with them, based on their One for One program: when you buy a tree from us, we donate to have a tree planted. It doesn’t matter how many trees we sell – every tree purchased equals at least one tree planted!

 

One Tree Planted helps reforestation efforts in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. They also have a special Million Tree Challenge, which is dedicated to planting trees in California. This hits close to home for us, because our corporate headquarters are in San Diego. We’re excited to help our state heal after the many devastating wildfires that have hit California in recent years.

 

Here’s an explanation of how it works, from the One Tree Planted website:

 

“We pool the donations for each project and send the funds to our reforestation partners. We vet our partners to ensure that we maintain a tree survival rate of 80-90%.

 

Depending on the project, our partners choose the best tree species to plant and work with local communities to get them in the ground. Planting typically happens in the rainy season when the soil is wet and provides optimal conditions for tree survival.

 

Once all the trees are in the ground we send out a report highlighting the impact of your trees. We will be sure to include plenty of pictures of the newly planted section of forest!”

The biggest advantage offered by living trees is their environmental impact. Trees clean the air, remove carbon dioxide, release oxygen, support pollinating insects, and provide habitats and shade to animals and humans. That’s why we’re so excited to help the earth, the air, and all living things that benefit from the presence of living trees.

 

With that being said, there are also unique and environmental benefits to faux trees:

 

      • Conserve water with trees that don’t ever need to be watered
      • Avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides
      • No need to fertilize, weed, prune, or replant
      • Can place trees anywhere, even if there’s no sun exposure
      • Trees stay in full bloom all year long
      • Can conceal wiring, electronics, and structural elements
      • Custom designed and handmade to meet your exact specifications

 

Our preserved palm fronds and palm tree bark encased tree trunks are made with recycled plant material. They are so resource-efficient that they qualify for up to 90% of their purchase price in LEED credits! These trees, plants, and palm fronds are “immortalized” after undergoing our proprietary, fully organic, non-toxic, preservation therapy.

 

We have a thorough process to ensure that all of our products are high quality, durable, and environmentally tested. We’re a leading proponent and supplier of interior, commercial-grade, fire retardant botanicals. Plus, we’re innovators in the use of Inherently Fire Retardant (“IFR”) and Ultraviolet Inhibiting (“UVI”) materials.

Contact us to learn more, or visit OneTreePlanted.org for more details

Happy 30th Birthday to The Mirage!

On November 22nd, 1989, The Mirage Hotel & Casino officially opened its doors. It was the largest hotel in the world at the time, and the first casino/resort built in Vegas in 16 years.

 

After The Mirage opened in 1989, Southern Nevada witnessed a decade-long boom, experiencing construction and population growth not seen in the United States since the Gold Rush of the 1840s and 1850s.”

 

History of Gaming in Nevada

 

Many of our artisans played an important role in creating the artificial plants and trees for the launch of The Mirage. Lifescapes International, Inc. created the magnificent design that included more than 200 preserved palm trees. These, along with artificial plants and trees, adorned the lobby, arching and forming canopies over the walkways. 

 

The preserved Exotic Washingtonia Robustas with natural tree trunks looked real, because they’re made with real palm fronds! Our proprietary preservation systems “immortalizes” the foliage so it maintains its look and shape, but doesn’t require watering or maintenance. The end result was a lush oasis in the midst of the desert, which epitomized the mirage in the resort’s name.

 

These preserved trees are considered by many to have launched the proliferation of palm trees (real, preserved, and fabricated) in Vegas. As noted in the LA Times:

 

“It’s phenomenal. It’s just unbelievable. Every project that we’re doing requires palm trees.”

 

Vegas Landscapes Betting on Palm Trees

 

Today The Mirage remains as one of the city’s premiere attractions.

 

In that time, we’ve created and installed thousands of plants and trees for casinos, hotels, and restaurants, in Vegas and beyond.

 

TreeScapes and PlantWorks extend a very happy birthday to The Mirage and all the team members that made this iconic property! 

 

Learn more about preserved palm trees

Learn more and see images of our casino projects

Preserved Palm Trees at The Mirage
Dispensary design decor

Dispensary Design & Decor – Grass Monkey Cannabis

Cannabis dispensary design & decor is a rapidly growing subset of interior design. TreeScapes and PlantWorks had the chance to help one such establishment, Grass Monkey Cannabis Company, with their dispensary design and horticultural decorations.

 

Grass Monkey recently had their grand opening in South Portland, Maine, and we were called upon to bring some greenery to the space.

 

This was a fun project, because it let us be creative and work on new concepts. There were elements that we use frequently, like faux potted plants in baskets, and hanging vines.

 

Replica fiddle leaf fig trees are also popular, and we created a six-foot-tall version for them. It fit perfectly with all of the other replica plants inside.

 

There are other more unconventional elements, though. Replica boxwood hedges frame a spray paint rendering of a marijuana leaf. A monkey sculpture has a mohawk with our replica grass as his “hair”.

 

The statement piece is an artistic green wall of a monkey’s face, variegated with stripes of replica moss. This company did an amazing job at integrating their brand name into the decor!

 

Our contributions to the dispensary design joined other whimsical elements, like an oversized banana sculpture, and smaller monkey figurines climbing the walls.

 

The interior signage and art all feature graffiti elements, which capture the playful, unexpected, and urban look that Brass Monkey Cannabis Company epitomizes.

 

Dispensaries are a big business that are only growing as marijuana is legalized in more and more locations. That’s why dispensary design and decor is so important for cannabis companies.

 

If they want to become well-known, household names – or even obscure cult favorites – they need to be distinctive. They also have to appeal to their target audience, and the overall design has to make sense for their products.

 

Another challenge unique to this industry is the restrictions placed on exterior advertising. Many dispensaries across America are only allowed to decorate the inside of their space. Others can use exterior décor and signs, but they can’t actually reference cannabis or marijuana at all.

 

TreeScapes and PlantWorks are proud to help dispensaries with their decor and design needs. We have just about every variety of greenery that you can think of, and that includes replica cannabis!

 

You might wonder why a cannabis company would want artificial marijuana – especially when they sell real marijuana. It turns out that there are several compelling reasons why faux cannabis is the best choice for dispensaries.

 

Building regulations and federal laws can prohibit dispensaries from growing real cannabis, and the live plants can bring other complications when allowed. There’s a real risk of theft or damage to the plants by enthusiastic consumers.

 

Plus, cannabis plants are known to be sensitive and fickle. They require lots of care and attention, which may include special grow lamps, humidity control, or sterile environments.

 

With all of this in mind, it only makes sense to utilize fake cannabis for dispensaries! We’re happy to assist, with custom designs and products that celebrate hemp in its many forms. If you’re seeking assistance with cannabis dispensary design and decor, we’re here to help.

 

Visit the Grass Monkey Cannabis Company website

Dispensary design decor
Dispensary design decor
Preserved palm trees MGM Grand

Preserved Palm Trees at MGM Grand

Preserved Palm Trees

Our preserved palm trees set the scene recently at the MGM Grand lobby display! The Eagles “Hotel California” tour kicked off in Las Vegas, and the casino’s mascot, Leo the Lion, was surrounded by West Coast decor.

 

TreeScapes and PlantWorks provided the six preserved date palms that surround the iconic gold lion. Preserved trees – and preserved palm trees in particular – are a specialty of ours. They look real because they’re made from real palm trees!

 

Preservation Process

Our exclusive preservation process begins with real palm tree fronds and bark. Next, we replace the water within the cellular structure of each frond. We have a proprietary preservative that is fully organic, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and inherently fire retardant.

 

Palms are our most popular choice for preserved trees, but we also offer preserved juniper topiaries, boxwood hedges, and different types of grass.

 

The final products are often indistinguishable from living trees and plants! The main difference is that they will maintain their natural color, shape, texture, and structural integrity for years to come.

 

Representing Hotel California

The preserved palm trees were further accented by our replica kentia palm plants. California style street signs were also added. Each featured a reference to popular Eagles’ songs, including “Hotel California”, “Take it to the Limit”, and “Desperado”.

 

The final touch was a smaller version of the infamous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. The one at the MGM Grand reads “Welcome to the Hotel California”, of course! VegasNews.com reported:

 

“Along with a once-in-a-lifetime concert at the Grand Garden Arena, fans of the legendary band also can memorialize their visit with a unique photo next to the “Welcome to Hotel California” sign specially designed to accompany the famous MGM Grand gold lion in the lobby.”

Head to MGM Grand to Enjoy Eagles-Themed Activations in Anticipation of Upcoming Performances

 

Click here to learn more about our preservation process and see pictures of some of our most stunning preserved palm trees, topiaries, boxwood hedges, and grasses.

Preserved palm trees MGM Grand
Preserved palm trees kentia palms