All you need to know about our Holiday Rent-A-Tree program



All you need to know about our Holiday Rent-A-Tree program


Read through popular questions on this page. Download your copy of the Rental Agreement below and/or the FAQs for a more extensive list of questions.

General questions

+ How much do trees cost?

Between $25 and $85, depending on the tree species and size (see our Store for more details).

+ What are the environmental benefits?

The most sustainable choice is a tree that you know will be planted after the holiday season. The trees and shrubs available through this program are chosen for their suitability for Silicon Valley streets, backyards, or parks. Return the tree after the holidays, and Our City Forest will plant it. Most of the species for this program were propagated and grown locally for other projects, but are still too small to plant in public areas, so we are able to offer them as alternative holiday trees. Once planted, the tree will provide a myriad of benefits, including carbon sequestration, for many years longer than that of a farmed tree.

Farmed Trees

Should I feel bad about purchasing a farmed tree?

Of course not! Our program is only an alternative, particularly for folks interested in smaller trees. If you purchase a farmed tree in the Bay Area, it most likely came from the Pacific Northwest. While these are more “local” than an artificial tree from China, they still require transportation to your local tree lot, resulting in emissions.

If you want to find a tree that requires less carbon emissions, see if you can choose and cut your own tree locally, or see if a nearby lot has trees are from a local farm. Driving to a tree farm in Half Moon Bay (for example), and cutting and bringing your chosen tree home requires less carbon emissions than having your tree shipped from the Pacific Northwest too.

What about chemicals or pesticides?

Although conventionally farmed trees can be sprayed with pesticides that cause varying health impacts, it is more environmentally preferable to opt for a farmed tree over an artificial one that releases toxic chemicals through production, use, and disposal stages.

How do I dispose of a farmed tree?

In San Jose, your tree will be picked up as with any other yard trimmings! Just leave it on your curb starting December 26 through January with your regular yard pickup.

Artificial Trees

If I choose an artificial tree, how I long would I need use it for it to be more sustainable?

Most artificial trees come from China. After considering the fuel and emissions that are required to manufacture an artificial tree and ship it to the US, you would need to use your artificial tree for around twenty years. Unfortunately, the average life span for artificial trees in North America is only six years. Please see this study for more information.

How do I dispose of an artificial tree?

If you do choose an artificial tree, it cannot be recycled, so it must go to the landfill. Because artificial trees are made out of plastic they will not break down and will remain in the landfill.

Living Trees

Are potted trees the most sustainable choice?

A potted, living tree can be the most sustainable choice- as long as you know where you will plant it, rather than throwing it away or keeping it in the pot for years.

Before you purchase a potted tree, make sure you know where you will plant it after the holidays. Most potted trees aren’t a good option for South Bay residents due to size or climatic concerns. If you want to plant your tree, you can get creative and opt for another kind of tree, like a native. If there isn’t room for whichever tree you buy in your backyard, see if a neighbor or friend wants to plant it. Be sure to take good care of your potted tree - heavy ornaments or decorations can compromise root structure and tree health, making it difficult for it to survive after it is planted, and acclimating it to the outdoors is important too.

What if I don’t have anywhere to plant my potted tree? If you don’t have anywhere to plant your tree, the next sustainable choice is to get a farmed tree if you don't want one through our program. Potted trees are not a sustainable choice if you throw them away (even if you recycle them) when you are done with them. That’s because potted trees require more water and nutrients than classic farmed trees. If you do try to recycle a potted tree, you must remove the pot and roots, otherwise it will not be recycled and will be sent to the landfill.

This FAQ was adapted from a similar program at the San Francisco Department of the Environment.

+ What types of trees are available?

We have 8 species of trees available ranging from 3ft to 9ft. Species are subject to change. NOTE: Height is measured from the bottom of the container to the top of the tree and is approximated. Please visit the nursery in person to pre-order your tree if you want a particular size.

  • Deodar Cedar: 4'-6’, $40
  • Juniper 'Wichita Blue': 6'-7', $65
  • Italian Stone Pine: 4'-6', $35
  • White Fir 'Pride's Select': 3’-4', $25
  • Arizona Cypress: 5'-6', $40 & 7'-9', $85
  • Fern Pine: 4'-6', $30
  • Coffeeberry: 3'-4', $30
  • California Bay Laurel: 2'-3', $25

+ How do I reserve a tree?

There are 2 ways to reserve your Living Holiday Tree:

  1. Order online
  2. Order in-person at our Community Nursery during regular open hours: Thursday thru Saturday, 9AM – noon. Our team will help you pick out a tree, tag it with your name on it, and walk you through the online ordering system.

NOTE: Trees are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. When we run out, we are out - Order yours today!

+ How do I order online?

Step 1:Read through these FAQs & read our Rental Agreement linked on our website:

Step 2: Starting November 1, you can go to our online store by clicking the button or go to:

Step 3: Choose a species you want and click “Purchase” button. (Note: The online system automatically allows 1 order per person. If you want to order more than 1 Living Tree, please email ASAP with number and species type so we can accommodate your request.)

Step 4:You will be redirected to check-out screen. Fill out all information listed:

  • Valid email address that you check regularly,
  • Enter person(s) name who will be picking-up tree, if different than billing information provided
  • Pick-up date: enter “12”, day you want to pick-up, and “2017”
  • Pick-up time: enter number for hour, minute, and second and be sure to select AM or PM (apologies, we cannot edit out the “seconds” section, please just enter 0)
  • Agree to Rental Terms
  • Provide credit card information, billing address, and valid phone number in case we need to reach you
  • Review purchase and submit

Step 5: You will receive a confirmation email with your order details, including your tree species and pick-up date you chose. Please email if you have any questions.

If you have any problems with our online ordering system, please email or call 408-998-7337 x 122

Pick-up & Return Questions

+ When can I pick up my tree?

When you order your tree, you will have to choose a date and window of time that you will pick up your tree. Trees can be picked up during Open Hours at our Community Nursery beginning Thursday, December 7th until Sunday, December 17th. Open Hours at our Community Nursery will be extended during these dates for pick-up: Thursday - Sunday, 9am - 3pm

+ Do you have any other pick-up locations?

Yes, we do in South San Jose. For South San Jose residents: We will have a special opportunity for you to pick up your Living Holiday Tree at our newest site located Martial Cottle Park (located off of Chynoweth Ave. across the street from 5428 Vauxhall Cir. San Jose, CA 95136). Pick up in South San Jose is only available one day this year: Saturday December 9th, between 9AM-3PM.

+ Do you deliver?

No, not this year. If there is a big group order (10+), we potentially can, depending on the location. Email with details of your request prior to ordering to see if possible.

+ When do I return my tree?:

Trees can be returned to our Community Nursery on January 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, or 13 during our regular Open Hours 9AM - noon. We will notify you with more details and send a reminder soon after December 25th.

For South San Jose residents: You may drop your tree off at the nursery location during the times listed above. You may also return the tree to our Martial Cottle Site on January 5th from 9AM - 3PM. Please let us know if these times won’t work for you and we will try our best to accommodate your request.

Caring for your Living Holiday Tree

+ Are you providing saucers for the Living Holiday Tree?

No, we are not providing that with the service this year. However, they are highly recommended for participants to purchase in order to avoid floor or carpet damage. Saucers or plastic trays are available for purchase at your local home improvement store. Note: be wary of the cheap plastic trays if you are concerned with any possible leaking. Try using an additional towel or cloth as a buffer to protect your floor.

+ Where should I put my tree once I bring it home?

We recommend acclimating your Living Holiday Tree before putting it inside your home, since they’ve been outside at the Nursery. Keep it in a protected area, sheltered from high winds and full sun. Water the tree immediately and make sure the soil is kept moist, but not wet. A good rule of thumb is to water with a small cup at a time, until you see water seep out the bottom of the pot.

After a few days of being sheltered outdoors, you can bring it inside. The trees will do best by windows that receive natural sunlight. If your home doesn’t have good natural lighting where you want to place your Living Holiday Tree, we recommend that you move it outside on occasion during the rental period or by another window where it might receive some sunlight time.

DO NOT place the Living Holiday Tree near any heater vents, furnace or fireplace. This can be hazardous and can also damage the tree’s foliage or dry it out completely.

+ How often should I water my tree?

It varies depending on the tree species and container size. The Living Holiday Trees will need water at least 2-3 times per week. We will provide care guidelines with each tree for reminders. There is not an exact science to watering the tree, you must keep an eye on the tree and check on it every few days. If the root ball feels dried out, slowly trickle water until the entire surface is saturated and water is seeping out the bottom into your tray/saucer. If the tree is looking fairly moist, there’s no need to water it again until it begins to dry out. Use your index finger as a gauge - if it’s dry up to your second knuckle, it’s time to water again and keep that Living Holiday Tree happy and moist.

+ What if I forget to water my tree and it dies, or it gets damaged?

Upon purchasing your Living Holiday Tree online, you will be required to e-sign our Rent-A-Tree agreement. This ensures that you are fully responsible for the health & well-being of the tree during the rental period. We are counting on you to take good care of our trees and they must be returned in good condition. If it is determined that the tree was neglected, dies, or we are unable to retrieve the tree at the end of the rental period then you may be charged the full retail price of the tree as follows:

  • 7’-9' trees: $100
  • 5’-6' trees: $80
  • 3'-4’ trees: $60
  • 2’-3’ trees: $40

Holiday Rent-A-Tree

In your home today - in our community tomorrow.

Thank you to all of our 2016 participants! We wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season!



Holiday Rent-A-Tree

In your home today - in our community tomorrow.

Thank you to all of our 2016 participants! We wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season!




Thank you to all of our 2016 participants. Show us your tree!

Hello 2016 Rent-A-Tree Participants!

Thank you for choosing to rent a Living Holiday Tree this season! We had a great turn out this year from the community! To celebrate, we decided to host a social media contest. Please show off your Living Holiday Tree in our 2016 photo contest.

The 3 categories are:

1. Most Festive

2. Most Unique

3. Most Eco-Friendly

Winners will be announced on December 30th and will win free tree rental for next year! To enter, either share your photos on our Facebook page, or use hashtag #LivingHolidayTree on Instagram and tag us @ourcityforest. You can also enter by emailing them to

We look forward to seeing all the wonderful submissions!

As a friendly reminder...

  • please make sure you are watering your tree accordingly. If you will be out of town for a few days, make sure your tree is taken outside or has sufficient sunlight. 
  • ONLY use LED lights
  • do not hang heavy tinsel or ornaments on your tree
  • do not place your tree next to a heater or fireplace

We hope everyone is enjoying their trees and are having a wonderful holiday season!


Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2015 Holiday Rent-A-Tree program and a special thanks to everyone who submitted a photo to the contest. 

Winners of the 2015 Holiday Rent-A-Tree Photo Contest

Honorable Mentions

Thank you to all participants - we loved seeing your Living Holiday Trees and we hope they brightened up your home this season. See you next year!



Email or call 408-785-2302