Make Your Own Christmas Tree From Pruned Branches

You can have a yuletide tree without spending money or needlessly destroying an evergreen if you make your own Christmas tree.

| November/December 1981

  • 072 make your own christmas tree 1 sawing branch
    If you're going to make your own Christmas tree from pruned branches, the first step is to prune some branches.
  • 072 make your own christmas tree 2 arrange branches2
    Arrange the prunings in a watertight container.
  • 072 make your own christmas tree 3 decorate tree
    Decorate with lightweight ornaments.
  • 072 make your own christmas tree 4 tree w presents2
    A decorated prunings tree complete with presents. 

  • 072 make your own christmas tree 1 sawing branch
  • 072 make your own christmas tree 2 arrange branches2
  • 072 make your own christmas tree 3 decorate tree
  • 072 make your own christmas tree 4 tree w presents2

More and more people—over the last few years—have rebelled at the notion of killing a tree in order to decorate the house at Christmas. Some folks solve the problem by purchasing plastic or tinsel replicas, while others—yearning for the look and aroma of the real thing—buy living trees, which they later plant outdoors. [EDITOR'S NOTE: For tips on how to make sure a to-be-planted evergreen survives, "Replanting Christmas Trees"] 

But suppose you don't want pseudospruce or fake fir? And suppose you don't have any more room to plant a tree in your yard?

Well, don't despair, because there's a way to have a "real" holiday evergreen without cutting it down. You can make your own Christmas tree ... from pruned branches!

Getting It All Together

Almost anyone should be able to find the raw material for a prunings tree. Just about any type of evergreen will do. We've used pyracantha, holly, juniper, and arborvitae as well as the more familiar (in this application, at least) spruce, pine, and fir. Rural homesteaders will probably be able to simply prune trees in the back forty, improving their woodlots while they do so. Folks in urban or suburban areas can trim branches from evergreen shrubs ... or even pick up—often free of charge—trimmings from Christmas tree lots.

In order to construct a do-it-yourself tannenbaum, you'll first need to gather [1] a supply of evergreen branches from two to six feet long, [2] a big waterproof "planter" such as a plastic wastebasket or trash can, glazed ceramic pot, or large stoneware crock (don't use an ungalvanized steel container, because it might rust through after weeks of contact with water), [3] wire for fastening branches in place, and [4] enough sand or pea gravel to fill your container three-quarters full.

There are probably any number of ways to assemble a batch of limbs into an attractive tree. However, we've found it easiest to first center the tallest branch in the empty container, and then wire the smaller limbs to it—one by one—making sure the cut end of each branch extends down to the bottom of the container (where it can pick up moisture and stay fresh).

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