The Great Debate: Real Christmas Trees or Artificial Ones

Fake or Real?

Christmas time is here(ish), depending on what day you define as the official beginning of the season. Regardless of that technicality, it’s at least time to start thinking about your tree situation. We’re here to help simplify the tree buying process, which can turn into quite the complex outing if you aren't prepared.

So which type of tree is best?

Ah yes, the great debate. The tradition and authenticity of a real tree or the simplicity and ease of the artificial one. It’s raged on for centuries and divided people all across the nation (it hasn’t done any of those things, but hyperbole is fun). Both have their advantages, and both have their drawbacks. Let’s settle this.


Believe it or not, both types of trees can impact a person’s allergies, so keep this in mind if you’re living with or are someone with significant allergies. Real trees are actually quite notorious for carrying around different types of mold spores that can trigger allergy symptoms. A study from State University of New York Upstate Medical University in 2011 found that some Christmas trees people bring into their home could carry more than 50 different types of mold spores.

This isn’t to say that real Christmas trees are detrimental to your health and should be avoided; just be aware of specific hazards that can exist when you bring anything from the woods into your home.

Take precautions such as having at least a MERV 8 air filter, which is qualified to filter mold spores from your air. It’s also a good idea to hose down your tree outside and let it dry before bringing it into your home. You can even attack it with an air compressor and blow out any and all debris. All of this doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes and your time spent with your tree will be a lot safer.

If you still find yourself having to deal with “Christmas Tree Syndrome,” an artificial tree might be right for you. While artificial trees can gather significant quantities of dust, they don’t bring the same mold assault that a real one can attack your home’s air with. Artificial trees get the edge on the air quality front.


Artificial trees tend to vary heavily in price but are on average two to three times the cost of an average natural tree of similar height. A quality artificial tree in the seven-foot range can run between $150 and $350, while similar sized natural trees are more in the high two-digit range.The reusable nature of an artificial tree makes them less expensive in the long run as long as you plan to use it for more than about three years.

Ease of Use

This might be relatively obvious, but the artificial tree is much easier to manage as well. Artificial trees break down into parts, making them much easier to store, transport, and setup. You can put it in a box at the end of the year and stuff it in your attic. There’s no worrying about watering it, keeping it alive, or proper disposal of it. Natural trees obviously offer none of this in addition to leaving little green bristles everywhere that you need to vacuum up regularly.

The big winner

So artificial trees are better for allergies, cheaper, and much easier to manage. That makes them the clear winner, right? Not necessarily. The holiday season is a time of tradition, and getting a real tree every December is a popular one for a lot of American families. At Second Nature, we always want you to breathe clean air, save money, and minimize the amount of work required to maintain your home. We wouldn’t want you to compromise tradition though. A real tree will obviously take more work, but if it’s worth it to you, then you should. If you’re looking to simplify the Christmas tree task, then we’d encourage an artificial tree. So the winner of the great debate between real trees and artificial ones is whichever is right for you.

Alec Lower

Content Writer

Alec is a third-year member of the team at Second Nature. He brings expert knowledge of a myriad of home air filtration topics including HVAC filters, filtration efficiency, and indoor air quality.