Saturday, December 5, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree: DIY Potted Topiary Skinny Christmas Trees in Urns

It's that time of year again folks. The time of year you either love or hate... Christmastime! I for one love this time of year. From the decorations, the music, the food, the fun, the traditions with family and friends...I could go on and on ;). I just wish it all lasted a little bit longer and didn't seem so rushed!!

I'm guessing you're no Scrooge yourself if you're reading this post, and you just might like decorating for Christmas as much as I do. I've accumulated so many decorations over the years that it now takes me more than one day to fully deck out the house (don't judge ;). I really love the warm ambiance Christmas lights and trees create so much that I have several trees scattered about the house.

I decided (in July oddly enough) that I was going to try something new with our living room Christmas tree. As you may know I put an upcycled media cabinet on one side of the fireplace, and a new (but also upcycled) matching cabinet on the other side. This left me with no room to put our extremely wide tree in the corner. 

Now I could do some heavy lifting, or massive rearranging, but honestly I was over that tree. It was a lot of work putting that big ol' tree up (taking up almost an entire day) and it was so wide and so top heavy that it somehow ended up toppling over almost every year, breaking ornaments and scratching the floor. Funny story (well, now it is, not at the time) when I was about fifteen weeks pregnant that monstrous tree fell on top of me and as I struggled to lift it back up I wondered if Cory would come home from work hours later to find me trapped under our Christmas tree with ornaments tangled in my hair. Somehow, after what seemed like forever, I managed to push that beast back up to its rightful place, but not without envisioning myself as the poster child in a commercial for life alert.

Question? If a tree falls on you when you're pregnant, and no one is around to help you, does it get to stay? Heck no! My mind was made up after dealing with that monster for over a decade, it was time for a new Christmas tree. I looked at the space I had to work with and it came to me: I could put up two skinny trees in urns on either side of the fireplace. It would look unexpected and elegant at the same time. I was so excited I immediately looked up Christmas trees online and found a steal of a summer clearance deal on two 7 1/2 foot pencil thin trees. I can't quite remember exactly what I spent, $50ish sticks out in my mind. I know it wasn't much considering brand new tree prices (I'm such a cheapskate). If I could have gotton away with finding matching trees on Craigslist or at the thrift store that would have been my first choice, but that would have been like finding a needle in a haystack.

I then searched and searched for the perfect urns. If you have ever looked into buying semi-large urns, you know, those darn things are expensive. I ended up getting some nice ones for $20 a piece at an end of summer clearance sale at Home Depot.

I was super excited to finally get my urns because I didn't want to use them just for my Christmas trees. I planned to make them into multi-purpose, multi-seasonal decorations. My first project using the urns was my fall leaf tomato cage trees. These Christmas trees are my next undertaking. I also have some ideas brewing for future decor projects with these urns so look for those soon ;).

I had a few options on how to make my urns into bases for my Christmas trees. I could fill the base with rocks and stick the tree pole in the middle of the rocks and hope it was stable enough to hold the tree up but I no longer wished to play the toppling tree game. I could also pour cement into the urn and stick a pvc pipe in the middle to hold the pole straight and secure like Jaime at a well dressed life did. It worked out great for her wide tree so it should work out perfect for my skinny trees.

I decided to take it one step further and pour the cement into plastic pots (that would sit inside the urns) that I had stashed in the garage. This way I would be able to remove the Christmas tree base in case the cement/pipe got in the way of whatever future uses I had for the urns. I then went to Lowe's and bought a 1 1/2" diameter pvc pipe for $1.29 that was just big enough for my tree pole to slip into snugly. We also picked up a bag of concrete. I was now ready to make my new trees!

Potted Christmas Trees Supplies

  • 2 Urns
  • 2 Christmas trees
  • PVC pipe to slip your Christmas tree pole into
  • Concrete
  • Plastic pots
  • Garbage bags
  • various tools (level, saw, etc.)

The first thing I did was cut down the PVC pipe. I figured 9 inches in length so that the bottom branches would be just touching the top of the urn.

I planned on preparing the urn "bases" while it was warm outside but time got away from me (as it often does) and I had to put them together while it was cold outside. I set up my concrete mixing area in the garage and opened the door. I lined my plastic pots with garbage bags since they had drainage holes in them. I filled a watering can and grabbed a terra cotta pot to scoop out the concrete mix (yep found that in the garage).  I also brought out a level to make sure the pvc pipes were straight.

I followed the directions on the bag and in less than five minutes I had completed bases. Definitely an easy project, although a little messy. For sure wear a mask when mixing cement so you don't breathe in any dust and maybe gloves would be helpful (as you can see I did not wear gloves).

I let the cement dry for a couple of hours, cut the garbage bags away and then brought those puppies inside to see if they would hold the trees up. I put the bases inside the urns and since I was unable to find two of the same size plastic pot I had to slip a couple of flat rocks down the side of the smaller pot so it would not move at all when the tree was up.

They worked perfect! I could not be more pleased with how straight and stable my "homemade" bases hold these trees up. I snapped tons of pictures and it was hard to weed through them so I have a lot of after shots :). I could just sit in my cozy Christmas living room all day long!

I'm glad I purchased the 7 1/2 foot trees since with the added height of the bases they measure to be about 8 1/2 feet, just perfect for our 9 foot ceilings.

I really love how my homemade potted topiary Christmas trees turned out, it was very little effort for two elegant Christmas trees that I'm sure we'll enjoy for years to come!

Well I'm off to work on bathroom projects both here at our house and at the lower unit of the grey apartment building! Until the next post which may be Christmas or bathroom related, we shall see!



  1. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this. Love it!!

  2. Hi! Could you tell me about how wide the urns are? I want to try this, but don't want too skinny base in fear of toppling! I have had my share of that!

  3. Wow, wonderful diy tutorial. I'll make one on Christmas.


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