A couple weeks ago, I got a letter from the city notifying me that my juniper bushes were encroaching on the sidewalk and needed to be trimmed. (Sorry, neighbors!) Within a few days I got out my anvil lopper and cut back the offending bushes, but because the city has stopped collecting yard waste until spring I have had a pile of evergreen boughs just sitting around.
So what better use for these branches than to make some holiday decorations? I put a few of the juniper limbs in my windowbox along with my standard spruce tips, but I put many more branches to use making a big Christmas wreath for the exterior of the house.
Here’s the spot I have in mind for the wreath:
The chimney is six feet wide and I think a wreath that is about four feet wide would look great on it. But I don’t have a wreath frame of any size, especially one that large, so I zipped over to my local True Value Hardware to see if I could improvise some wreath-making supplies.
For the wreath frame, I picked out some coated wire clothesline, along with some steel wire for attaching the branches and brick clips for hanging the finished wreath on the chimney. Although the clothesline wire is plenty tough and reasonably stiff, there is no way it is rigid enough to support the weight of a 4-foot wide wreath, so I planned to try braiding or twisting it to firm it up for my wreath frame. It turned out that my 50-foot coil of wire was just enough for a three-strand twisted 50″ hoop.
With my wreath frame made, I moved my project out to the front yard to start attaching the juniper boughs. I used short lengths of steel wire to tie the branches to the frame every 12 – 18 inches, and I spaced limbs same distance so that the cut end of each new branch was about a foot further around the circle than the branch before it.
Although my clothesline frame didn’t end up being very stiff, the branches themselves and the overlapping assembly pattern helped to firm up the wreath’s circular shape. I also tried to use branches of similar diameter throughout the project to help the wreath’s shape and stiffness.
After a couple breaks to warm up my hands (I happened to be working on the coldest day of the week) I had finished building the wreath. As the above photo shows, the juniper boughs give it a little different texture than the typical pine, and I left the edges a bit wild for a more rustic look.
With my stepladder in place alongside the chimney, I placed a brick hanger clip about nine feet up and hung the wreath from it. The results were a bit… droopy.
I’m sure the finished wreath weighs close to 40 pounds which is just too much for my clothesline frame to bear without sagging. But when I installed a second brick clip to lift and support the bottom of the wreath, the round shape came right back.
For $15 in hardware and some out-of-season yard waste, I think the wreath turned out brilliantly. The pine cone decorations are some giant sugar pine cones I had on hand from previous winter windowbox displays. They were just the right size for the wreath and they fit the cheapskate vibe for the project since they were already paid for.
Because our house is on a corner lot, this decoration on the side of the house is visible to lots of passersby on the street, so I hope I’ve successfully upcycled my shrubbery into a bit of seasonal cheer. In fact, this project was so easy and festive it makes me think I should just plan to trim my juniper bushes for wreath-making material every December– city property notice or not.
Disclosure: I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program and my DIY project as well as my posts about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.