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Christmas Trees – Rent Now; Plant Later

November 27, 2012

Every year around the end of November, I receive an inquiry from a client or reader who is looking for sustainable Christmas tree options, particularly ones that will recycle and/or replant Christmas trees in restoration programs after the holidays. So, I’ve compiled the following list to help you get started finding programs that help take your holiday greens from field to family to forest:

Living Greens for Happy Future Generations

Living Greens for Happy Future Generations

The questions I receive remind me to check in on various programs that allow you to enjoy a living tree and then recycle it by planting it in a restoration area — and yes, with some programs you return the tree and someone else manages the heavy planting work for you. This can be a fantastic option when you consider that traditional Christmas trees like Noble Firs and Douglas Firs mature much too large for smaller residential landscapes.

Some of these tree-cycling programs provide traditional Firs; others have more eclectic tree offerings based on native trees that are needed in local restoration projects. And, some of these programs encourage you to sponsor a memorial tree or bench or other needed park item instead of bringing a tree into your home. These programs help families and friends create living memorial spaces from the get-go. Read on to learn more about tree programs before you hit the tree lots this year:

Original Post from December 3, 2008

Over the years I’ve searched and searched for a service that offers living Christmas tree rentals. Last year I found an advertisement in Conscious Choice Magazine for such a service, but when I looked up the company they didn’t actually exist. What a waste of advertising dollars! This year I continued my search and found some businesses offering this service. So far, I haven’t found a supplier in my area, but there are some other nifty programs that will help you recycle your holiday tree in creative ways. Here are a few of the programs I’ve been able to put together over the years, and they aren’t just in Seattle!

  • Portland & Eugene (new for 2018), Oregon: Looks like as of 2018 there’s a new place to order potted holiday trees in Oregon via “The Original Potted Christmas Tree Company.”

    Somebody got this idea way before I started looking. (2018 link broken) The Original Living Christmas Tree Company has been renting holiday trees since 1992. You have the option to rent a tree that they replant after the holidays or purchase the tree to plant yourself.

  • Seattle, Washington: Local nursery, Swansons, has teamed up with local Seattle parks to offer living tree rental programs. After the holidays, your tree is planted in a Salmon restoration area. More on their program here. Shoreline nursery, Sky, claims to be offering living trees as well as cut options; details here.
  • (2017 link broken) San Diego, California: adoptachristmastree.com had offered an array of living trees delivered to your door. Apparently for an extra $45 they’ll dress up as an “adults-only” elf when they deliver the tree. It is unclear if they will take the tree back after the holidays and replant it. They do encourage you to donate to plant the tree after the holidays.
  • (2014 link broken) San Francisco, California: SFenivronment.org had offered trees for just $90 in 2008. However, after the holidays they pick up your living tree and replant it for you. Don’t expect traditional conifers here! Note: as of 2009, this site no longer seemed to work.  As of 2012, it appears they’re taking sign-ups in hopes of resurrecting the program in 2013.
  • (2012 Link Broken) Issaquah/Sammamish, Washington: Hayes Nursery offers a wide selection of living Christmas trees. Many tree species, sizes and prices to choose from. Perfect if you want to plant your tree after the holidays.

In years past I’ve settled for sheared rosemary shrubs, and I’ve purchased cut trees that we mulch after the holidays. I’ve considered purchasing a live conifer to replant myself, but I just don’t have the room in my own garden. Remember, our most popular Christmas trees grow up to be enormous. So, please keep that in mind before you pop it in the ground just anywhere after the holidays.

And, if you’re really looking for an opportunity to create a living memorial in a local park by planting a tree to visit year after year or install a bench where you might rest and reflect on your lovely surroundings, consider signing up with the Seattle Parks Foundation Living Legacy Holiday Gift Program.

And while you’re shopping, don’t forget that Garden Mentors® gift certificates make a fantastic, sustainable holiday gift! Order yours here now!

If you’re aware of other holiday tree rental services, please let us know so we can spread the word!


  1. Karen says:

    Great idea! My family hasn’t had the best luck with living Xmas trees, and as you say you have to have the space for one to get pretty big if it survives. We didn’t do a tree at all until our kid was 3 and started asking why we didn’t have one. So, we caved and I feel guilty every year. I hope at least that putting it in the yard waste at the end of the month means that it gets chipped up and composted!

  2. Willi says:

    I don’t know of a live tree rental in Seattle, but we often purchase our tree from the UW Forest Club. They cut the trees down from under powerlines (which would be cut down anyways) and the proceeds go to benefit the club. The sale happens the first weekend in December every year, so unfortunately it already took place this year. But it’s a good thing to keep in mind for next Christmas.

  3. rhaglund says:

    Thanks Willi. That’s great to hear. It seems like this is a great seasonal business opportunity for someone!

  4. […] Contact | Store | Garden Mentors Christmas Trees – Rent Now; Plant Later […]

  5. Christmas Tree Rental in San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Monterey.
    We have 6′-8′ trees for rental includes free delivery, install, and pickup,2-3 week rental on or around Holiday Season for $90. See our website for more details. We’ve been doing this for 15 years.

  6. Tree Rental says:

    I think we may be the prior original live christmas tree rental service. We started “The Tree Concern” in 1990.
    You can see a tree we donated to the City of Thousand Oaks at our website http://plantman.com/rental.html. We plant our older trees or give them to the counties, clubs and residences to plant.

  7. Fab idea, wounder if they have anything like that here in Ireland

  8. Kathy Boullin says:

    Great info! Let me add that Swanson’s Nursery has expanded their living Christmas Tree program this year and has smaller and therefore more affordable trees for sale. There are very small native firs, hemlocks and cedars, as well as medium sized sheared Douglas Firs that are affordable and easy to move into the house for a week before bringing them back out again. Of course, if you want a larger, more expensive living tree we have those too! Yes- I do work at Swanson’s and I may even be the person who sells you a live tree!

  9. rhaglund says:

    Kathy thanks for the update. I’m glad to know Swanson’s has added some more affordable options. I know that’s been a deal breaker for some shoppers in the past. Have fun out there in the rain bundling up the trees. In today’s downpours, perhaps you’ll think back to our days slogging through the rain while studying plant ID for our CPH exam years ago? Ah, memories….

  10. lauren Jones says:

    There is a place in San Jose


    San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz

  11. […] My earlier post on Living Tree Offerings outside Seattle […]

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