19 sustainable Christmas tree choices The most eco-friendly Christmas tree is one that lasts for years. Here’s how to choose, decorate, and care for a living tree Choosing your tree Select a living Christmas tree as you’d choose plants for your garden―go with what you love, and have room for.You can use the same tree in a container for four to seven years, depending on how fast it grows. If you intend to plant it outdoors eventually, choose a variety that thrives in your climate. And be sure that you have a sunny spot for it.Look for landscape-grade trees (not sheared), in 5-, 7-, and 15-gallon cans. Pinterest Dwarf blue subalpine fir Abies lasiocarpa ‘Glauca Compacta’. Sunset climate zones A2, A3; 1–9, 14–17. Limber pine Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’. Zones A1–A3; 1–11, 14–21. Korean fir Abies koreana ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’. Zones 3b–9, 14–24. Colorado blue spruce 'Baby Blue' Picea pungens ‘Baby Blue’. Zones A2, A3; 1–10, 14–17. Nordmann fir Abies nordmanniana. Zones 1–11, 14–24. Bosnian pine Pinus heldreichii leucodermis. Zones 2–11, 14–24. Colorado blue spruce 'The Blues' Picea pungens ‘The Blues’. Zones A2, A3; 1–10, 14–17. White pine Pinus parviflora ‘Blue Angel’. Zones 2–9, 14–24. Monterey cypress Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Wilma Goldcrest’. Best in zone 17. Dwarf Alberta spruce Picea glauca albertiana ‘Conica’. Zones A2, A3; 1–7, 14–17. Colorado blue spruce ‘Fat Albert’ Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’. Zones A2, A3; 1–10, 14–17. Douglas fir Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) Native. Soft dark green or blue-green needles. Easy to grow and shape by shearing. P.M. glauca is a hardy form in the Rockies. Both are handsome and fragrant Christmas trees.To 70 feet tall. Sunset zones 1-9, 14-24. Norway spruce Norway spruce (Picea abies) This big landscape tree grows 18 inches per year. Not as prickly as most spruces.Can hit 150" in height. Sunset zones A2, A3, 1-6, 14-17 White fir White fir (Abies concolor). Symetrical tree with bluish green needles. Grows to 30 feet tall when planted in the ground. S.c.’Candicans’ has bright silvery blue needles.A good container plant. Sunset zones 1-9, 14-24. Colorado spruce ‘Hoopsii’ Picea pungens ‘Hoopsii’. ‘Glauca is the standard Colorado blue spruce, but ‘Hoopsii’ is even bluer. It its best in colder areas; a poor choice in Puget Sound region where lack of winter cold leads to severe aphid infestations. Grows 30 to 60 feet tall in gardens. Zones A2, 3, 1-10, 14-17. Australian black pine Austrian black pine (Pinus nigra). A dense conical tree with a uniform crown and stiff, very dark green needles.Grows slowly to 40 to 60 feet tall. Mature trees develop flat tops. Zones A3, 2-10, 14-21. Alpine fir Alpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa). Native. Slow-growing tree with bluish green needles; 60 to 90 feet tall.Dwarf blue subalpine fir grows to just 3 to 4 feet tall in 10 years, ultimately reaching 6 to8 feet tall. Zones 1-9, 14-17. Giant sequoia Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Dense gray-green foliage; red bark. Better able to tolerate colder, drier climates than coast redwood.Potentially a huge tree, to 80 feet or more. All zones. Deodar cedar Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara). Nodding branches bear green needles with a bluish gray, or golden yellow cast. Floppy top makes it hard to mount a star atop the tree.A good garden tree if you have room. To 80 feet tall. Zones 2-12, 14-24. How to care for a live tree Plan ahead. Buy a variety that thrives in your zone. After the holidays, keep it in a container to reuse year after year, plant it in your garden, or donate it to a local park. If you plan to plant, make sure you have space to allow for the tree’s growth. Do not disturb. Leave the tree in its nursery container for at least the first Christmas. You don’t want to add transplant shock to the stress of an indoor stay. Limit its time inside. Display the tree indoors no longer than 10 days, keeping it away from heater vents, fireplaces, and drafts. Water regularly. The easiest method: Place ice cubes atop the soil. As they melt, they slowly release water, which is gradually absorbed by the roots. Take it outside. Most trees can live outdoors for several years in large containers. Water regularly, when the top 2 inches of soil are dry. When new growth starts in spring, feed with a granular, controlled-release fertilizer. How to decorate Shine theory Go ahead, gild that little tree. But stick to ornaments in a single metallic finish for a polished outcome. Tuck in twigs spray-painted gold and doused with glitter for extra shimmer. Tree: Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii leucodermis). Grow globes For those with a serious plant addiction, a tree hung with terrariums is reason for a Hallelujah Chorus. This conifer’s sturdy branches easily support the succulents, tillandsias, and activated charcoal that fill each orb. Tree: Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens ‘Baby Blue’). Decor: Hanging sphere vases, $11; paxtongate.com. Pop rocks Trade glass icicles for a sweeter variety: rock candies in bright colors, hung with embroidery thread wrapped around their wooden handles. Clear lights and a fiberclay pot keep the look unfussy. Tree: Limber pine (Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’). Decor: Rock candies, $12/set of 12; hammondscandies.com. Pared down A trio of trees calls for simplicity—just one type of ornament on each. Felted yarn balls, thick wool yarn, and a string of lights give this grouping a touch of modern Scandinavian style. Trees (from left): Korean fir (Abies koreana ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’); Dwarf Alberta spruce (Picea glauca albertiana ‘Conica’); Dwarf blue subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa ‘Glauca Compacta’). More sustainable ideas Support a Forest Global ReLeaf, a tree planting program sponsored by American Forests, has planted more than a million conifer seedlings this past year in 14 reforestation projects around the West, including in areas ravaged by wildfires. For every $1 donation, American Forests (americanforests.org) plants a tree.Send a seedling Give a gift tree that’ll keep on giving, and growing, at Mom and Dad’s place or in a friend’s yard. Seedlings of Colorado spruce, deodar cedar, or giant sequoia (about $25 each) are available from NewGrowth, Inc., an Oregon Nursery. Plants are 1 to 2 feet tall, 2 to 3 years old; they’re gift wrapped using recyclable containers and ribbons. newgrowth.com or 800/605-7457.