Posts

Which Is Better: A Real Or Fake Christmas Tree?

We have to admit, we’re a little biased on this point, but we’ll make a case for real trees that even the grinchiest grinch of them all can’t argue with!

A Real Christmas Tree Smells Wonderful

The first and best reason to get a real Christmas tree is the smell. The gorgeous scent of an evergreen forest wafting around your house will always put you in a holiday mood. Add some decorations, eggnog, a few presents and some holiday tunes and you’ve got the makings of a great deal of merry!

Smell triggers our strongest sense memories and if you grew up having a real tree at home every year, you’ll find that bringing one into your home now will bring back some of those magical moments of your childhood Christmas past.

A Real Christmas Tree Is Excellent For The Local Economy

Christmas tree farms in Canada numbered 1,872 in 2016 and did $77.6 million dollars worth of business in the same year! That’s a lot of happy farmers in the local economy. That figure doesn’t take into account the number of trees grown and exported worldwide from Canada, which numbers almost 2 million trees, to the tune of $43.1 million dollars (again, in 2016). (Source)

These economic benefits are in contrast to the $59.5 million dollars worth of fake trees that were imported into Canada from China in 2016.

When you look at the amount of money generated by local purchases and consider the contribution to the local labour market, as well as the value of the exports, you can see the tremendous benefit to the Canadian rural economy, an area of the country that needs to leverage these renewable resources.

A Real Christmas Tree Is Better For The Environment

There’s a caveat here: a fake tree is only not too bad for the environment if you plan to keep it and reuse it for years—ideally, over 10 years. If you are going to use it and dump it after only a holiday or two, a plastic tree is just adding to already overflowing garbage landfills.

That’s not the worst part though: the production of fake trees is ecologically unsound. The almost $60 million dollars worth of fake PVC plastic trees imported from China in 2016 (see above!) travelled over 10,000 kms to get here. Real trees need dirt, water, a little fungicide, some gas to harvest and move them, and the human labour too (local labour!)

Every acre given over to growing real Christmas trees—and there’s about 70,000 acres in Canada designated for Christmas trees—creates enough oxygen for 18 people. Furthermore, real trees can be chipped, and turned into mulch, burned, or landfilled (where they will gradually breakdown) at the end of the season. Fake trees will never break down. Ever. Some areas might even incinerate fake trees; the plastic will release dangerous toxins and carcinogens into the air.

And finally, if your fake tree has attached lights but not the newer LED lights, you’re using a lot of energy to light it up every holiday season!

A Real Christmas Tree Is A Wonderful Tradition

Whether you go to a farm in the country and make a day of it, or if you go to a wonderful and festive local garden centre to pick out your perfect specimen for the year, the annual tradition is a great one to start anytime.

If you have kids, you can get them involved, picking out the tree, bringing it home and decorating it. It makes for some great screen-free family together time the memory of which you’ll cherish for the rest of the year.

Which Real Christmas Tree Is Best?

Typically, spruce, fir and pine are the best available options in Ontario. Here’s a quick pro / con list, to help you decide which would be best for your holiday:

Spruce trees —

Pro: Good symmetrical shape, dense branches, lovely dark green colour.

Con: Prickly needles.

Fir trees (our favourites!) —

Pro: Amazing smell and gorgeous dark green needles, excellent needle retention, not very prickly.

Con: A 6 week lifespan, indoors, which ranks it the shortest of all the trees.

Pine trees —

Pro: Different colour options, from green to blue, gorgeous scent, excellent needle retention, strong branches to sustain heavier decorations.

Con: Longer needles make decorations harder to see.

How To Make Sure Your Real Christmas Tree Is Recycled?

In Peel region, Christmas trees under three feet tall can be put out by the curb, along with regularly recycling, on designated days in January. The same goes for wreaths made of natural materials. If your tree is taller than three feet, you can bring it to the Peel Community Recycling Centre.

Prepare your tree for collection by making sure you’ve removed everything, particularly the following:

  • Tinsel;
  • Plastic bags;
  • Ornament strings;
  • Nails and wires (if you were using those to hold it steady and prevent it from falling over!)
  • Nailed on tree stands.

Fake or real, it’s entirely up to you but when you consider the economic impact to local areas, as well as the environmental one, to say nothing of the enhancement to your home this holiday season, we think the decision is clear.

Visit Toemar from the end of November till Christmas Eve to pick up your real tree!

5 Wonderful Ways To Beautify To Your Winter Garden

Think back to previous winters, when you looked out a window of your home, come December or January. What did you see in your winter garden?

Perhaps blankets of snow, or piles of dead leaves depending on the weather. But was there any visual appeal to your garden through the winter months?

If your answer is no, it’s time to start thinking about sprucing up your outdoor space so that it is a pleasure to behold, twelve months of the year.

Start With A Little Planning

Before winter sets in, visualize your garden as it will appear in January and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it include a variety of pathways, levels, walls?
  • Are there any eye-catching attractions non-vegetal focal points, like rocks and boulders?
  • Do you have easy to clear pathways for your pets and other people to navigate?
  • Do you have foliage that is still attractive in the winter?
  • Do you have firewood that you store year-round?

Variety For Your Garden

Being able to access the garden, even through the winter, makes the long season bearable.

Having pathways that are stable, well-built and either covered with interlocking paving stone or other stone work, can help make your garden accessible year round. After all, you need to be able to easily remove the snow from the path, to continue to enjoy it.

Adding in different levels to your garden, including a well-placed garden wall or two, provides interesting visual relief. Instead of looking out on a flat, often white space in the winter, you’ll have bushes and plants on different levels to attract the eye.

Garden walls are particularly attractive for visual interest, but you do need to make sure you build them correctly so that they don’t fall or crack under the pressure of ice and snow.

Pathways and walls need to be correctly placed and built to ensure that there is proper drainage in your garden, avoiding patches of ice forming where water can’t clear out.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, consider getting some professional help from a hardscaper.

Non-Vegetal Focal Points

Whether you like concrete statues or displays, or a more natural composition of boulders and rocks, creating non-vegetal focal points keeps your garden more interesting regardless of the weather outside.

Every rock or boulder is unique, and whether your go for one giant monolith or a grouping of smaller pieces, consider the vegetation that will grow around it to keep that natural look.

When adding rocks or boulders, you need to consider the following:

  • The size – bigger isn’t always better, depending on the look you’re trying to achieve in your garden. Good proportions are more important.
  • Placement – where you put these features in your garden is very important but they are also hard to move, so try to do some visualizing before your pieces arrive.
  • Shape and colour – if you already have rock features in your garden, any additions should blend in with them.

Prep Your Pathways

We’ve already noted that you should have pathways into your garden that are easy to clear but it’s equally important to make sure that they are in good repair.

The freeze and thaw cycles of winter can cause a lot of damage, particularly if you’ve got drainage issues, so before the winter sets in for the season, make sure your pathways are all in good repair and effectively draining.

Winter Foliage

Deciduous trees are lovely in any garden but once those leaves are gone, you’re left with little visual appeal until spring returns.

Mix in a few evergreen trees or shrubs and some ornamental cedars to keep the appeal. Just don’t overdo the evergreens as they will attract mosquitoes in the summer!

Holly and juniper bushes are also excellent options, mixed into your beds or surrounding the natural rocks.

The pops of colour from the berries are gorgeous, particularly set against the dark green of the leaves and your evergreens, as well as the snow!

Dogwood shrubs are also lovely, thanks to their signature red / burgundy bark.

Ornamental grasses are the perennial that stay the course through winter and snow, popping out to create a visual break in the landscape.

They come in many colours, which makes them a standout choice.

And if you’re thinking of adding any trees to your garden, one that looks particularly good throughout the winter, thanks to its bark, is a birch tree.

Decorate With Your Firewood

If you have the good fortune to have a wood burning stove, you can be creative with your stack by putting in a covered rack, somewhere in visual range, and stacking your wood there.

It will still be protected from the elements but will add a rustic appeal to your garden. Something straight out of Norman Rockwell painting!

However you choose to add a little something to your winter garden, the key is to create a space that you can enjoy, even from behind your living room window, as you grip a mug of hot cocoa.

Different Types Of Christmas Trees: Useful Pros, Cons, & Tips

‘Tis the season for planning Christmas and how you’ll decorate this year!

The first and most important decision you’ll make, when it comes to getting ready for the holidays, isn’t the turkey. It isn’t the presents. It’s the Christmas tree. What kind of tree should you get? How long will it last? How do you take care of it? All valid and important questions that we’ll address right here!

Fake Or Real?

The first question many people ask themselves is whether they want to bother with a real tree or if they will just get a fake one to use, year over year. Call us biased but there are a lot of reasons that a real tree beats fake every time, not the least of which is the gorgeous smell of evergreen in your home. Nothing beats it at Christmas time!

  1. Real trees—spruce, fir or pine—are sourced locally, within 5 – 25 kilometres of your home. They keep small family farms in business, which also contribute to your local economy and employ local people. Fake trees—made from PVC: polyvinyl chloride—come from overseas locations 85% of the time, to the tune of 2000+ kilometres, creating business for overseas firms, with no local employment.
  2. Real trees need sunlight and water to grow. Fake ones from countries like China need coal to be created (powering their electricity).
  3. Real trees might need some pesticides—about ¼ ounce over the lifetime of the tree. Fake trees are full of PVC related toxins, including phthalates and dioxins.
  4. Fake trees are not recyclable or biodegradable. Real trees serve the environment before and after they are cut, as well as being easily managed in terms of agricultural standards.

So, now that we’ve convinced you that real is a good option, the question is: which variety?

Spruce Trees—Pros And Cons

White Spruce

Pros are a good, uniform shape, dense branches and a gorgeous dark green colour. If you like a symmetrical, full and well balanced tree that looks good from any angle, this is a good option.

Cons are that the needles tend to be very prickly, which can be an issue if you have little ones helping with the decorating!

Fir Trees—Pros And Cons

Balsam Fir

Pros include dark green needles with an amazing fragrance, a tall, slender look with excellent needle retention. This variety is ideal if you need a tree for a smaller space and want a classic Christmas fragrance to permeate your home. Also, the needles aren’t very sharp, so decorating is easier, particularly for kids.

Cons include a shorter lifespan than some other varieties, with an outside limit of six weeks indoors.

Fraser Fir

Pros include a long life, up to eight weeks, and a beautiful scent. The needles are silvery and not as dense as some others, which makes a gorgeous backdrop for your decorations.

Cons include the lack of needle and branch density, which doesn’t give that full appearance you get with some of the other varieties, but that’s really up to personal taste. The branches are also flexible so are not ideal for heavy ornaments.

Pine Trees—Pros And Cons

Scotch Pine

Pros include vivid colours, ranging from bright green to a blue green, superior needle retention even as it dries, strong branches, and it keeps well during shipping and storage. If you use heavy decorations and HATE vacuuming needles, this is the tree for you.

Cons? There aren’t many. This is one of the most popular trees in North America for a reason! One remark people tend to make is that the needles are longer than with spruce or fir, so that can make decorations more difficult to see and arrange.

Five Tips To Keeping Your Tree Healthy

Now that you’ve chosen your tree, you’ll want to know how to keep it happy and thriving right through until New Year’s Day. These tips should help you along the way:

  1. Pick a healthy tree to begin with. At the tree lot, do a pinch test: Pick a branch of your chosen tree and place your thumb and fingers around it, about six inches in. Pull gently along the branch, towards you. If the tree is healthy and fresh, no more than 10 needs should come off in your hand.
  2. Make a cut. Give your tree a fresh cut, about an 1” above the base, to ensure that it can absorb water easily.
  3. Keep it cool. If you need to store your tree for a day or two before putting it up in the stand, make sure you choose a cool, dark place. An unheated garage is perfect. Leave it standing in a bucket of water so that it stays hydrated and cut it again before putting it in the tree stand indoors.
  4. Give it water. Make sure your tree stand can take a lot of water because your tree will need it. 4 litres is ideal. Set yourself a reminder to check the water levels and add to them regularly. Skip the chemical additives: they will only prevent your tree from getting the hydration it needs.
  5. Pick a good location. Placing the tree near heat sources, fireplaces, appliances like televisions or direct sunlight are not ideal. It will dry out more quickly.

Finally, when the holidays are over, you can dispose of your tree with curbside pickup in January, but if you miss it, just put it aside and cut it up in the spring to put out with yard waste.

Every November, Toemar receives a shipment of the healthiest and most beautiful Christmas trees in the GTA! Keep your eyes peeled; we always announce when trees are in store! We’ll help you choose the best tree for your home…

5 Things You Should Do To Choose The Perfect Christmas Tree

‘Tis the season for decorations and delights, just so long as you choose… right?

Okay, that was a little awkward: rhyming is not our forte. Trees, however, are definitely in  our wheelhouse! This year, if you’ve decided to eschew the plastic tree that you’ve had stuffed in the basement these last few seasons, we’ve got you covered on the whys and wherefores of a real Christmas tree.

Types Of Christmas Trees

There are a couple of species of tree that make the best holiday decor for any home or office, each with their own merits.

  • Fraser fir — Well watered, a Fraser fir can last up to eight weeks in your home and has that most distinctive of Christmas-sy scents. The silvery tint to their needles and less dense branches are the perfect complement to your ornaments.
  • Balsam fir — These very popular trees will typically last six to seven weeks and have good fullness, needle retention and that classic pine scent that screams: “Pass the eggnog!” Their more slender look with dark green needles make these the perfect tree for smaller spaces.
  • Scotch pine — With needles that vary from bright green to blue/green, these bushy trees have strong branches and excellent needle retention, which is important if you have heavy or simply many ornaments AND hate vacuuming the needles!
  • White spruce — The full, dark green branches are just part of the appeal. These trees are some of the most symmetrical, with very consistent shape all around. These are great trees if you are using them as a central decoration in a room, rather than placing it in a corner, as it will look beautiful from every angle. The downside? Their needles are VERY prickly, which can be unpleasant for wee ones, when decorating!

Before Buying A Tree

Measure your ceiling height, taking into account the tree stand AND any top of tree ornaments, like a star. You don’t want to end up with a National Lampoon Christmas tree, bending at the top!

Also, take a look at the area where you plan to place the tree: you need enough width, as well as height, and if you are getting a tall tree, you might want to consider whether you will be able to anchor it to the wall, for safety. In addition, you want to make sure to place it far from heat sources, which can be a fire hazard. If you are using lights, make sure there is an easily accessible plug or switch on a power bar so that you can be sure to turn off the lights when you aren’t home and before you go to bed. Again, this is in case of a short or overheating.

Don’t forget to dig out your tree stand and make sure all the parts are in good working order or your decorated tree could topple like Uncle Art after a couple of hot toddies!

What To Look For In Your Tree

Whether you are buying your tree at a garden centre, a tree lot or going to a farm to cut your own, there are a couple of things you should look for when selecting your tree:

  • Check for broken branches, bare spots and dead branches to assess the health of the tree and how well it survived transportation (if you’re not at the farm yourself).
  • Look for a fairly even colouring of the needles. Dull or brown / rusty needles may speak to the freshness of the tree.
  • Check for pests and insects: you don’t want to be bringing these into your home!
  • Run your hands over the needles by grasping a branch about six inches in and pulling forward gently: the needles should stay put and be flexible. A few may drop off but if a lot of the needles are dry and come off in your hand, the tree might not be fresh.
  • Check the branches to see that they are strong enough to hold up ornaments and lights and flexible, which is another sign of a fresh tree.

Setting Up Your Tree

First, cut about an 1-1.5” off the bottom of the stump: the fresh cut will allow your tree to soak up water more easily.

Second, place a plastic tree bag or garbage bag IN the water compartment of your stand and lay it open—don’t worry, you can cover it with a tree skirt so no one has to see the bag, but it will make disposal at the end of the holidays a little easier, with a lot less needle dropping on the carpet. It can also help to prevent water spills soaking up into your carpet or staining your hardwood, in case the stand gets overfilled a little.

Third, leave your tree in the tree stand a full 24 hours before decorating it. Some of the branches will fall naturally as the tree acclimates to the room temperature, so premature decorating can end up looking a whole lot different a day later! Don’t forget to water it! A tree will go through a lot of water, particularly in the first day it is in your home, so make sure you keep an eye on the water line in your stand.

Disposing Of Your Tree

Sadly, the holidays WILL come to an end and it will be time to dispose of your tree. Most areas across the GTA have curbside pick up service in January so check your local recycling schedule and see when yours is. Too often, we’ll see trees with sad bits of tinsel on them, stuck in a snow bank in February.

When it’s time to move the tree, make sure someone is holding by the trunk, towards the top, while someone else undoes the tree stand clamps or retention mechanism. Then pull up the bag that we mentioned earlier, up and around the tree, so you can move it out the front door with a minimum of needles dropping everywhere. Remove the bag and keep it for next year, as most recycling trucks will not pick up a tree that is in plastic.

If you miss the collection dates, you can hold onto your tree and put it out with the yard waste in the Spring, in lengths of about four feet.

Now that you’re ready to bring home your tree, armed with all the information you need, we at Toemar want to remind you that with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s important to take a step back, smell the Christmas tree, and enjoy the moment. Have safe and happy holidays!

 

 

A Simple Guide to Decorating Your Christmas Tree

A decorated Christmas tree is a sure sign that Christmas celebrations with friends and family around this joyous season is near.

See our infographic below as we’ve looked at 3 styles of Christmas tree decorations through the years that will keep your home looking warm and inviting.

If you still need more inspiration check out Pinterest page where you can check out real trees and decorated Christmas trees.

From all of us at Toemar Garden Supplies and Firewood, thank you for your support and loyalty in 2015 and we look forward to serving you in 2016!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

fresh-christmas-tree-decoration-style

6 Tips + 3 Myths to Keeping Christmas Tree Spectacular until New Years

IF YOU HAVEN’T PURCHASED A TREE YET, READ OUR QUICK GUIDE TO SELECTING A REAL CHRISTMAS TREE

Here is how you can extend that Christmas spirit well into New Years with these 6 easy to remember tips and 3 myths or things that you should not do with a real Christmas tree.

Let us know what you think below.

tips and myths to keeping your Christmas tree alive

A Guide to Selecting a Real Christmas Tree

We know selecting a fresh Christmas Tree can be a daunting task so we’ve created a real simple and easy to use guide to help you through this process. In this infographic, we talk about the 3 most common types of fresh Christmas Trees that you can purchase from your garden center or from your local tree farm.
Tell us what you think below.

From all of us at Toemar Garden Supplies and Firewood, thank you for your support and loyalty in 2014 and we look forward to serving you in 2015!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

guide-to-selecting-the-right-christmas-tree

Christmas Trees: Real vs Fake – What is better?

We hope that you enjoy this infographic on the ongoing debate of Christmas Trees: Real vs Fake. We had fun researching it and we hope you enjoy learning more about the issues.
We think that Christmas is more than just about Christmas trees and gifts (although we do appreciate gifts!), it is a wonderful reminder of the important things in life are such as family and friends.

Whatever you decide on, a real Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree, you need to make a choice that best fits your needs. However, we think the smell of evergreen in your home is priceless and irreplaceable.

From all of us at Toemar Garden Supplies and Firewood, we want to thank you for your support in 2013 and we look forward to serving you in 2014!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

christmas-trees-real-or-fake

Christmas Trees: Around the World

We hope that you enjoy this infographic on Christmas Trees around the world. It is fitting that we live in a multicultural society that we understand how people celebrate Christmas here and around the world. We had fun researching this and thought that you would enjoy this too!

May you and your family have a wonderful and safe Christmas and Happy New Year!

From all of us at Toemar Garden Supplies and Firewood, we want to thank you for your support in 2012 and we look forward to serving you in 2013!
christmas-trees-around-the-world

Christmas Trees: Ideas on Selecting and Caring

I love Christmas and Christmas trees. It is because it is one of the very few holidays where we get to focus on the family and the closest of friends through engaging conversation that brings a smile, a belly full of laughter, and even the occasional tears of joy. I also love real Christmas trees because it is the one activity where my entire family can gather together to decorate the Christmas tree while the natural scent of fresh pine needles gently reminds you of wonderful memories of Christmas past.

To keep the spirit of Christmas thriving through the holidays, we’ve come up with a few ideas that we think will help keep your real Christmas tree alive and house smelling fresh and wonderful this season.

Christmas Tree Ideas: Selecting

  • Measure the height and width of the space you have available in the room where the tree will be placed. There is nothing worse than bringing a tree indoors only to find it’s too tall or wide. Take a tape measure with you to measure your chosen tree and bring a cord to tie your tree to the car.
  • At the lot, give the tree you selected a shake and watch the type of needles that fall. Brown needles, which come from the center near the trunk, are fine, but fallen green needles means the tree has gotten dry.
  • Make sure the handle or base of the tree is straight and 6-8 inches long so it will fit easily into the stand.

Christmas Tree Ideas: Caring

    • Make another fresh cut across the trunk, approximately one inch from the original cut before you bring the tree into the house for decorating. This will allow the tree to absorb the water quickly and keep the pine needles fresh.
    • Get a tree stand that can hold at least four litres of water. The tree may drink up to four litres of water per day. Check the reservoir daily and supply fresh cold water as needed. Do not let the water level drop below the tree bottom, a seal will form and a new cut will be necessary.
    • Do not use additives or chemicals in the water as it may reduce water intake by the tree. Water moves into the trunk at the lower cut end, and eventually evaporates (transpires) from the foliage which prevents the needles from drying out and dropping off and the boughs from drooping. Water will also keep the tree fragrant.
    • Use only CSA approved lights and electrical cords and devices on trees. Check electrical cords and lights for damage prior to placement on the tree. Do not place damaged lighting on the tree or use outdoor lights. Discard the lights rather than repair.
    • Your tree should be placed away from sources of heat such as fireplaces, radiators, and televisions. Do not forget to turn off the tree lights when you leave your home and/or before you head off to sleep at night.
    • When you decide to dispose of tree, Peel Region will pick up the tree for recycling into mulch during the week of January 7th, 2013. For more details: http://www.peelregion.ca/pw/waste/garb-recy/christmas-tree.htm

For more information, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Image Source: Metro