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real trees vs. artificial trees Tag

Real vs. Artificial Trees – Regulations & Laws

Dispensary design decor
Fabricated Golden Bamboo by International TreeScapes

The third topic in our series of articles on real vs. artificial trees is regulation. This includes local, statewide, and federal laws, as well as zoning restrictions, building limitations, and other unique circumstances.

 

It would be great if trees and plants could be planted anywhere, anytime, and by anyone. Unfortunately, this is not the case. You may want a beautiful towering oak for your front yard, but local ordinances may prohibit this. Luckily, faux indoor options are usually acceptable. Artificial trees can meet regulations that living trees may not pass.

 

Real trees and plants can obstruct views, require too much water, or (most commonly) have roots that could grow to disrupt buildings, sidewalks, and roads.

 

This is true on a larger scale for businesses or cities that want to integrate living trees and plants into their design. Artificial trees avoid this concern, because they don’t ever grow larger, and they have no roots to interfere with infrastructure. Plus, artificial trees tend to survive longer in the city than real living trees.

 

Smaller artificial trees and plants can also be placed in areas that wouldn’t be able to support the weight of a growing tree. This is why faux options tend to be preferred for balconies, rooftops, and indoor locations.

 

There’s a new business emerging with a unique set of restrictions: cannabis. Many dispensaries want to decorate with cannabis plants but aren’t allowed to. Each state in America has different restrictions for selling, growing, and consuming marijuana products.

 

A cannabis dispensary might want marijuana plants strictly for aesthetic appeal, for example. The problem here is that a healthy plant could technically produce a large quantity of cannabis that could be cultivated and sold.

 

Dispensaries already struggle with federal restrictions, conflicting laws, and different permit requirements depending on location. Rather than risk their business licenses by growing on site, they can simply utilize fake cannabis plants for effect.

 

Another common scenario where this plays out is in Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs) across America. If your neighborhood is part of an HOA, there are likely strict guidelines on what you can and can’t plant. You can often avoid challenges by using faux trees and plants instead.

 

It is important to note, though, that HOAs often heavily regulate exterior decor and landscape features as well. Generally speaking, if you want a big cherry blossom or ficus tree on your property, you might want to opt for a fabricated tree instead.

 

The same can be said for those who wish to display regulated, non-native, or invasive plants and trees. Kudzu, golden bamboo, Canada thistles, wild chervils, and many other plants are prohibited state or nationwide. If you want to decorate with any of these prohibited or restricted breeds, you likely need to go with a faux option instead.

 

Trees like the sycamore maple and cutleaf birch are banned from public planting in many states, because they choke out local vegitation, block too much sun, or colonize open spaces too quickly. Artificial versions of those trees, and many more, meet strict restrictions like these.

 

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.

Stunning Artificial Coconut Palm Trees on a Cruise Ship

Real vs. Artificial Trees and Water Conservation

Stunning Artificial Coconut Palm Trees on a Cruise Ship

Artificial trees and water conservation efforts aren’t discussed often, but there’s a definite eco-friendly advantage to going faux in many scenarios. In our prior article, we discussed real vs. artificial trees in city areas, and how it’s often more eco-friendly to use faux trees in urban environments. Now we’re looking at the pros and cons regarding real or artificial trees and water conservation efforts.

 

Living trees need water, of course, but sometimes their watering requires more resources than can be spared. This is also an issue with planting trees for decorative appeal. Businesses and municipalities love to design with trees, but their high water consumption can sometimes be worse for the environment than leaving the areas empty.

 

That’s where TreeScapes and PlantWorks come in! We create durable, life-size (and larger than life) artificial trees. We offer replica trees, fully fabricated trees, and preserved trees. None of these require the maintenance or care that living trees do. They don’t need water, so they’re ideal for areas where water conservation is a concern. They also work perfectly in extreme climate areas that simply can’t sustain living trees.

 

We have trees in casinos and hotels all across Las Vegas for this exact reason. They provide much-needed shade, and make a memorable statement, but they don’t use valuable resources. They also don’t require any potentially harmful pesticides or fertilizers. You can also find our trees on cruise ships, which have to closely regulate how much fresh water is brought on board, and how it used.

 

There are many circumstances, of course, where it is better for water conservation to plant and grow living trees. This is because trees can store water, and their roots help to regulate water distribution in surrounding areas. Sometimes, by watering one tree, you’re effectively watering all of the surrounding plants and flowers. Supporting local tree and plant growth is an important step that we all should take towards combatting climate change.

 

Other real trees and plants, like different varieties of cacti, require very little water. Most states have published guides on low water trees, drought tolerant trees, and drought resistant trees. Those are generally a water-safe option for anyone looking to decorate or add some shade. The Arbor Day Foundation website is a good resource; their article “10 Drought-Tolerant Trees That Will Throw Shade” has a list of options to start.

 

Trees are, of course, great for providing shade. On a micro level, the cooling effects can result in less water consumption by animals and humans, which offers a small environmental benefit. But this is true of both real and artificial trees, so it’s not a huge point in favor of either one. There is a common scenario where artificial trees may use more water, though: misters. Theme parks, personal residences, and cruise lines often utilize faux trees that have built-in concealed misters. The cooling mist and artificial foliage is an ideal way to beat the summer heat, but you should be mindful of overall water consumption when using them.

 

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.

Safety of Real vs. Artificial Trees & Plants

TreeScapes Inherently Fire Retardant Quality Product

Our article series about real vs. artificial trees and plants has covered:

 

 

We can’t discuss real trees/plants versus artificial ones without mentioning the safety concerns. There are two main concerns: poisonous species, and fire hazards. Christmas trees and plants are often a concern for both of these problems.

 

Most varieties of real Christmas trees – firs and pines in particular – are mildly toxic if a small amount is consumed. This is definitely more of a concern for pets than people, but there have been cases of babies and toddlers ingesting tree oil or needles. These needles aren’t designed to be digested and they can cause internal punctures, irritation, and distress.

 

Christmas tree water is also a health concern for babies and animals. The water in the stand may contain fertilizer, bacteria, or mold. It can also catch the oils and needles from the tree, making the container even more toxic.

 

Just about every popular holiday plant and flower is toxic to cats and dogs. Mistletoe, poinsettias, holly, amaryllis flowers, lilies, daffodils, and Christmas cacti are all dangerous to keep in a home with pets. They can cause problems that range from very mild to completely lethal. Chewing on a fir tree might cause your dog or cat to drool excessively, but just a few bites of a Christmas lily can result in death.

 

Most varieties of dry, living plants and trees can be flammable, but Christmas trees are the biggest fire risk each year. ABC News recently published an article titled “Nearly 160 fires per year started by Christmas trees, report claims”. They note that:

 

“Forgetting to keep your Christmas tree watered could have deadly consequences, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

 

According to the NFPA, nearly 160 house fires per year are sparked by Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 15 injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage annually, the NFPA said.”

 

It’s important to note that only 2/3 of these fires involved natural trees. Artificial Christmas trees can also be fire hazards. Most holiday tree fires are caused by “electrical distribution or lighting within the tree”. Many others were due to placement near a heat source, such as a candle or space heater.

 

That’s why it’s extremely important to choose the right location and decorations for your Christmas tree. It should be placed in an open area with at least three feet of space around it, away from lights, appliances, or electrical equipment.

 

Be sure to select fire-safe Christmas tree lights and use surge protectors appropriately. Common sense measures are important also. Decorating a tree with real lit candles, for example, is a bad idea.

 

You can and should look for fire resistant artificial Christmas trees. Not all brands or styles come in this option, but it should be a priority to consider when shopping. Here at TreeScapes & PlantWorks we are vigilant about potential fire hazards. The majority of our trees are made with our UltraLeaf-IFR®, (Inherently Fire Retarding) artificial foliage.

 

We do make artificial pine, scotch, and fir trees, but we don’t specifically create Christmas trees. So, you shouldn’t expect to find our proprietary foliage on artificial holiday trees.

 

Look for words like “fire resistant”, “fire retardant”, and “fire safe” when shopping. Keep in mind, though, that these can all still be flammable. The risk is just reduced.

 

Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a product safety testing organization, initiated new standards for Christmas trees in 2010. Now, you can look for the UL mark on the tree box and product description. This indicates that the tree is certified by UL for fire and electrical hazards. You can also find Christmas lights that have passed their tests and have the UL mark on their packaging.  

 

No matter what you prefer, real or artificial trees and plants, there are safety concerns to keep in mind. Ultimately, though, there are options so that everyone can enjoy their favorite greenery, and keep the whole family safe. 

 

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 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.