DIY Fresh Garland
When we bought our 65 acres of land, one of the first things I noticed was all the little pine trees randomly growing on our hills and near the woods. Every year new little trees are popping up all over the place. When Christmas time rolls around I love hopping in my truck and driving around looking for any little trees I can use for Christmas Decor! One of my favorite ways to use the little trees is by trimming some off and gathering the branches to use to make fresh Christmas garland!
Where I Like To Use Fresh Garland
I love the look of real garland and since we live in Northern Michigan, I don’t ever have a problem with it drying out when I keep it outside. It actually doesn’t dry out at all and stays green until I take it down because it’s so cold outside.
However, I do keep it all outside because using fresh garland inside is just too messy…it really doesn’t last for the entire holiday season. So…I make it easy on myself and use real garland outdoors and faux indoors!
What Type Greenery I Use In My Fresh Garland
I always just use what I can find growing on my land!!! I wear gloves (because if I don’t I’ll get sappy, get scraped or poked) and just gather an assortment of different pine and fir branches.
I don’t like to use blue spruce but other than that I’ll mix in just about anything I can find. I have a lot of White Pine on our land and I love using it for garland and wreaths because it holds its needles all year long and the cones it produces look great in a wreath or even in the garland! I also have a lot of Balsam Fir trees and I like using them to give the garland some more bulk and fullness. I also love adding in some Cedar when I can find some!
Materials For Making Fresh Garland
- A rope that is long enough for the area you’ll be decorating, plus a few more feet to allow for it to swoop or hang how you’d like it to.
- Green Floral Wire…I use 22 gauge.
- An assortment of pine and fir clippings (or any greenery you want)
- Pruning Sheers
- Measuring Tape
My Simple Way Of Making Large Amounts Of Garland
Gathering The Clippings For The Garland
Last year I made my fresh garland extra thick and I made 60 ft of it. I filled the entire back of my pickup truck with small pine trees and clipping to make that much.
I start by gathering a large number of branches. Then I clip off any thick or long stems making sure to only keep the part of the branch that has needles. You’ll want your clippings to be about 8-12 inches in length. Once I have a pile of branches I take my rope and tie it off to something. A porch post works great or if you have a workbench in your garage or an outdoor table you can tie it off on a table leg. Just so it’s secure and doesn’t move around when your tugging on it…you can do what works for you.
This year I used my 16-foot outdoor tables as a workbench and tied the rope to a table leg. I needed 35 feet of garland to decorate the Pavilion and about 45 feet for the front porch. I just worked all the way down one side, across the end, and back down the other side of the table! It worked a lot better than kneeling on the ground (like I did last year)!
It does get pretty sticky and messy with all the pine clippings so I don’t recommend making garland inside. If you can make it outside that’s ideal! I’d work indoors on a table if you’re only making a small amount or a wreath. I’d just put down a drop cloth or a few trash bags to keep the sap off the table and make clean up super easy!
Securing The Clippings To The Rope
To get started you want to make sure you leave about a foot of extra rope on the end. I like to tie a loop with the rope once the garland is made so I have something on each end to use to hook onto my porch. Once my rope is laid out and secured to a table leg, I start by wrapping the floral wire around the rope and grabbing 1 full bunch or a few thin branches. I hold the bottom of the branches in my left hand and hold it with the top of the rope (making sure the branches are facing the top of the rope).
Then I wrap my floral wire around about 3 times near the bottom 2-3 inches of the branches. Once I have those branches wrapped good and tight with the floral wire, I grab another bunch of pine sprigs and repeat the same thing over and over…moving down the rope as I go.
Always Keep The Branches Laying In The Same Direction
I like to pay attention to the size and the type of pine or fir I’m using as I go so that it is a mix of all the different clippings I gathered.
As I work my way down the rope, I don’t tie off the floral wire, I just keep wrapping it all the way to the end. If you want to stop and tie it off for some reason, that’s fine too…you don’t have to though if you don’t want to. If you plan on using half the strand in one area and the other half in another area, then you DO need to cut it and tie it off.
You CAN’T just make 40 feet of garland and then cut it in half later. It would just unravel and fall apart. So be sure to know how many feet of garland you need for an area and make each piece individually.
My 35-foot strand of garland on the pavilion is one long piece. I simply used hooks to drape it across the front and wrapped some floral wire around the garland and hook to make sure it didn’t blow off during a blizzard.
Securing The Ends and Hanging The Fresh Garland Outside
Because my porch and pavilion have treated wood headers, I just used large 4-inch screws to secure the garland. I start in the center of my porch and/or pavilion. I drape the garland over a screw, starting in the middle of the garland, and then work my way out to the sides, draping it as I go. I stand back a look a few times to make sure that it’s even everywhere.
Once it’s in the right place, then I use floral wire, wrapping it around the rope and garland as well as around the screw that it’s hanging on. The garland is actually pretty heavy when I make it thick…so I like to have someone help me when I’m hanging it up!
How Long Does Fresh Garland Last?
I get asked how to make garland last all the time and my answer is pretty simple. The reason why my fresh garland lasts all through the holidays and long after the new year is because I live where it’s cold all winter and I ONLY hang this garland outside in the cold. The cold preserves the branches and they don’t dry out or turn brown. If I brought my fresh garland inside where it’s warm…it would last about a month if I was lucky. If you do want to decorate inside with fresh garland, spritzing it with water can help keep it lively longer. The sap in the pine allows it to stay fresh looking for a while anyway.
Why Real Garland and Real Christmas Trees From The Store Dry Out
We always cut down a real tree for Christmas and because we are cutting it ourselves…they last all throughout Nov/Dec without dropping needles. If you buy a real tree from somewhere but didn’t cut it yourself…you really don’t know how long ago it was cut. Most tree farms cut their trees and have them shipped months before Christmas. So by the time you have it up, it’s already been gong without water for a long time, so of course, it’s going to shed.
The same goes for garland. Because I clip all of the branches fresh and keep them outdoors in the cold…they really last a long time! A lot of places that sell Christmas trees will give away or sell branches and clippings for just a few dollars! That’s a great way to make your own fresh garland or fresh wreath…but keep in mind you really don’t know how long ago those clippings were cut. They may not last quite as long as if you were to use fresh clippings from your yard.
Now that I have all the garland made and hung up outside, it’s time to finish decorating the rest of the porch for Christmas! I have lots of Christmas decorating ideas up on the blog from years past so be sure and check them out below if you’re looking for ideas!