A growing number of Canberrans are rediscovering the joys of real, cut trees this Christmas, according to local sellers, turning their backs on a long-term trend towards plastic options. But there's one trend even the experts didn't see coming.
Ziggy Kominek, of Santa's Shaped Christmas Tree Farm near Gundaroo, who began planting and selling trees in the early 2000s, said previously his business sold most of its trees in December.
"Now we're selling quite a few hundred in November and that's been the difference. People seem to be moving the collection of their tree forward," he said.
While artificial Christmas trees began to outsell cut ones in the early 1990s, this trend may be reversing as the environmental impact of plastic trees, which are mostly produced overseas from non-recyclable polyvinyl chloride (PVC), becomes increasingly obvious.
"The feedback I'm getting from people is that the fake trees are not environmentally friendly, they're made from plastic, and people are worried about the climate," Mr Kominek said.
"Another factor is that people have extended families and share the Christmas dinners around weeks earlier, with families coming from overseas. So some families come earlier and they want the tree in the house to welcome and get the family together earlier," Mr Kominek said.
Even those who chose plastic trees because they could be reused were finding unwanted surprises.
"A lot of the people who in the past bought plastic trees, they put them away, they take them out, they start erecting them and there's mouse poo and wee and rat poo all over them and then they throw them away," he said.
Wallaroo Road Christmas Trees CEO Mick Barlow said the secrets to a long-lasting Christmas tree are to keep the water up to it every day, keep it out of direct sunlight, and cut the trunk with incisions under the water line. The average cut tree price falls somewhere between $90 and $120.
"The biggest problem with the fake trees is that people don't realise they're all made of oil-based PVC plastic. That sort of stuff stays in the landfill for centuries. Obviously real trees are better for the environment because they are the environment," Mr Barlow said.
According to Keng Tan from Christmas Tree Keng, near Bywong, the move to earlier purchases could be as simple as a shortage of supply and buyers not wanting to miss out.
But for those wanting the best of both worlds, there is a third option: a Christmas tree that can be reused year after year, but is also natural and environmentally friendly. A potted tree.
Grace Volani of Rodney's Plants Plus in Pialligo said living trees in pots could cost from $30 to $400 (depending on size) but could survive winters and summers, and reach a maximum potted height of 1.5m to 1.8m, depending on location.
How to keep a cut tree alive for longer
Top up the water supply to your tree daily
After a week, cut into the bark under the water line
Keep out of direct sunlight