I have to admit, when it comes to decorating for the holidays, I start as early as I can. I love homemade Christmas decorations, and the season is never long enough for me. But time can really be an issue when you work full time and then have family commitments on top of that. I found a few “permanent” decorating ideas that can be used all year with a few minor adjustments. It only takes a few minutes to make the changes to each of these.
I have two large planters outside my front door. I keep a small evergreen tree in each of them and keep twinkle lights on all year. They serve as Christmas lights right now and “fairy lights” in the summer, making a great path marker for the walkway. In the winter I put in cut branches of holly and pine. In the spring it gets pansies and spring bulbs. In the summer it has calendula and sage, and in the fall, mums and asters. I can change it for any season and still have the same base planter to work with.
Balled and Burlapped Trees
Since I grew up in Minnesota, I’ve always had real trees. They’re a big part of the economy there, and here in North Carolina as well. To make them more economical and environmentally friendly, choose a tree that has been balled and burlapped. These trees are meant to be placed outside and planted soon after Christmas has passed. You can plant them with the burlap on – just dig a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. You don’t want to cover the root crown, where the root stock meets the main trunk. Mix in some pine bark mulch and compost and you’ll have a fine looking tree in a few months.
Be sure to water well, even in cold weather. If it’s too cold in your area, you can leave it in a garage or somewhere (not too warm) where it won’t freeze. Give it a bit of water once in a while and it’ll be ready to plant in the spring.
To use the same tree year after year, keep the roots trimmed every few months during the summer. Dig a trench around the tree and cut off the roots as you would for a balled and burlapped tree. Be sure to keep the roots trimmed or you’ll have a hard time come winter when it’s time to dig it up. Bring it in after digging it up and place it in a bucket. Water it a bit, but don’t saturate it. Return it to the ground after the holidays. By keeping the roots trimmed, the size should be kept down. This is the same method used in bonsai, just on a much larger scale.
Each year I made a wreath for the holidays only to realize that I had to get rid of it once it dried out. Sure, I composted it, but it seemed like a waste. So I came up with a better idea – here’s what you’ll need:
- a wreath frame – must have 3-4 wires (find it here or at craft stores)
- floral wire, usually sold on a paddle (find it here or at craft stores)
- sheet moss, dried or fresh (find dried here or fresh here)
- soil substitute such as coir, made from coconut fiber (find it here)
- slow release fertilizer (find it here)
- vines that are green all year round, such as english ivy or honeysuckle
This is best started in the summer so the vine has time to grow, but it can be done at any time.
- Place the wreath form upside down on a few sheets of newspaper. This can get messy! If your sheet moss is live, lay it in the form upside down, with the top facing down. If it’s dry, soak it in water for an hour or so and then place it in the form. Cover the inside thoroughly with moss, also placing it up onto the sides, forming a well as you go around.
- Fill the well with soil substitute, adding a few grains of time release fertilizer.
- Cover with more moss and wire all the way around. It will be tricky to get it all wired and not have it fall apart on you. I leave it upside down for a few months while the roots become established.
- Then cut a few small holes so that you can tuck the roots of the vine in. Several vines will make it look fuller. You can wire it so the vines stay down while they grow into the wreath. At first it will look sparse, but after a few years, you’ll have to do some trimming.
- Water really well at first, and then only occasionally once established. In the summer it may be every day or every other day, in the winter, it may be once a week. Be sure to hang it on a sturdy hook or nail as it can get very heavy!
- For decorating, take a few floral picks of the season and stick them in randomly. When the season is over, take the picks out, dry them well, and store for the next year. I have picks for every month and for most all of the holidays. You can make your own or find them at craft stores. I often get them for 25¢ after holidays and use them year after year.
Do you have any permanent decorating ideas? Share them with us!