Looking for some inexpensive holiday decor? Check out what's growing in your own backyard (or maybe the front yard).
You can create an evergreen wreath or swag with a few inexpensive floral materials and plant cuttings from the landscape.
Here are the materials you will need: Fresh floral foam, preferably in a commercially made cage or you can create your own with a wire hanger and floral foam; waterproof floral tape; 24-gauge wire (or similar); 4-inch wire wood picks (optional). You will also need pruning shears, wire cutters and a pocket or grafting knife.
In your yard, look for an assortment of evergreen materials, such as cedar, camellia, evergreen wisteria, gardenia, holly, juniper, laurel bay, Leyland cypress, nandina, magnolia, mahonia, pine, pittosporum, sweet olive and southern wax myrtle.
You also might want to gather some Christmas tree trimmings.
If your yard is a little sparse, drop by a nursery or store selling fresh cut Christmas trees and ask for branches trimmed from the trees, which can lend a wonderful scent to your decorations.
When gathering outdoor materials, try to find several types of textures to incorporate into your wreath or swag.
Hollies such as American, Burford, English, Foster’s, Savannah, Winterberry and Yaupon can add red berries to your wreath, as can nandina.
If using a commercially prepared cage of fresh floral foam you can get started right away.
However, if making your own wreath or swag, begin by securing a wire hanger around a cube of fresh floral foam. First, bend the horizontal bar of the hanger in half so that it resembles rabbit ears. Next, bring the ears close together in parallel. Then, bend the tips of the rabbit ears upward so as to cradle the foam brick. Add a water impermeable backing such as contact paper to prevent water damage to the door. Secure the backing and foam to the hanger using the waterproof tape, creating a tic-tac-toe pattern with two vertical lines and two horizontal lines encompassing the hanger and foam brick.
Hydrate the floral foam with water for about 30 seconds before adding plant materials. To keep the live cutting fresh, water the foam several times a week.
Next, begin placing greenery in the top and bottom of the foam.
You can make a fresh cut on the stem of the greenery with a utility knife to create a sharp point by cutting down the bottom half of only one side the stem as if to whittle away the bark. Start sticking in greenery toward the back of the piece or use wire wood picks to secure the cuttings. Wrap the wire around the bottom half of the stem and then stick both the stem and pick into the foam.
Longer pieces such as fir cuttings, Leyland cypress or pine are great to use on the top and bottom halves. Use more pieces to then fill in both sides of the foam, still placing towards the back.
Then begin to fill in with different textures, such as leaves from magnolias, camellias or hollies. Lastly, add something with red berries, pine cones or a festive bow. You can secure the pine cones and bow using the wire picks or precut lengths of wire by wrapping and twisting the wire through the cones’ scales or around the center of the bow.
Create a swag by elongating the design, making the top and bottom longer and the sides of the piece shorter. For a wreath, keep all the plant materials similar in length along all sides of the wreath. You may use the hanger to hang on the door or the grommets or holes already in place on the commercial foam.
Now you have a DYI wreath that cost next to nothing. Merry decorating!