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dried sedum flower stalks painted blue, green and magenta, title text "Make a wreath from yard waste

Make a Wreath with Yard Trimmings

“Wreath maker” is not a phrase I use to describe myself. Don’t get me wrong- I love wreaths. They’re unbeatable for bringing charm to a home or workplace.

However, I can’t say I enjoy making them. My visions of creating wreath grandeur usually find themselves in the trash can, accompanied by a very sour mood. I’m just not good at it.

But still, I really like wreaths. And goshdarnit, I sure wanted needed one.

My home’s exterior screams, “Help me! I’m broken!” Totally not the vibe I’m going for. And at this point paint, windows, siding, demolition/reconstruction, etc, etc, are not in the budget. I’ve been ignoring my home’s pleas for charm, to give my energy to our yard. (The yard has it’s own issues, but c’mon. One thing at a time!)

With spring’s arrival, my yard was looking awfully scraggly. I left the sedum, hibiscus and other flower stalks and pods up through the winter. The birds love their seeds. And I like being reminded that there’s a yard somewhere underneath all that white.

Those flower stalks have really cool shapes. Have you looked closely at echinacea cones after they’ve weathered a winter? Or hyssop flowers? They’re so delicate looking. I had a yard full of grey sculptures.

So, I got to thinking. A can of spray paint is $4. If I can get some sort of a wreath base, I can use the stems and seed pods to fill it in. Then I’d just have to figure out how to hang it and BAM! Wreath greatness!

Ok, maybe not greatness, per se. Maybe just a wreath. But there was potential here. When my mega-creative Mom got excited about the idea, I knew I had to try.

Here’s how it went down.

SUPPLIES

  • Lots and lots of dried flowers, grasses, stalks, etc. (free)
  • Wreath form: a foam ring, foam half ball, even a thrifted wreath base- if you know you can use it. ($5-$10)
  • Spray paint: I used several different colors.  ($4/can)
  • Command hook: 1 per wreath  ($3)
  • Wire shirt hanger: 1 per wreath  (free- well, it was for me. Ask around if you can’t find one, or check your local thrift store.)

PROCESS

I first picked up the spray paint. We’d just scored a fun rug via dumpster diving (no shame, friends) that set the color scheme. 

brightly colored rug in front of entry door

See what I mean? It’s fun!

Mom suggested making two wreaths, since I had tons of flower stalks and, umm, two doors. She just knows these things.

We found the foam half balls at Joann’s for about $10. (Similar to this one here.) Mom talked me out of trying to work with a thrifted wreath, given my history of failure. Thanks, Mom.

green dry foam half ball on wooden table top

Gathering

Next, I gathered the blooms and pods with interesting shapes. I kept similar blooms together.

Collage of dried sedum flowerheads, hibiscus seed pods, and black-eyed susan seed heads

As I collected the stalks, I kept finding other plants to include. Twigs, old leaves, and grasses all have potential.

A word of advice:

If you haven’t figured out what design you’re going for already, do so at this point, since you can see what you have to work with. I plowed straight from gathering to painting. I really had no direction in mind, and I regret that.

Painting

I kept my trimmings grouped together for painting. Again, I was flying by the seat of my pants (where did that phrase ever come from?) and just put color on sections as I liked.

I found it a bit tricky to keep the stalks upright for painting. In the end, I kept them in my buckets and sprayed them that way.

black-eyed susan heads, spray painted orange, in a blue bucket

There’s a lot of uneven surface area to cover. And the weather-beaten stalks soak up quite a bit of paint. I realized quickly that the bright, bold colors I envisioned weren’t going to happen unless I was willing to do A LOT of spraying.

I wasn’t.

Assembly

I’ll admit I was intimidated to start putting the first one together. The horrors of previous wreath making attempts kept flashing before my eyes.  Since I was making two wreaths, I tried two different approaches, yet somehow still without a clear plan. It’s a gift I have.

The first one was very tight and controlled. I had somewhat of a design in mind (which I was able to replicate only vaguely). I began in the middle, packing the flowers in tightly. I kept snippers nearby to make trimming the stalks easier.

A few things to note:

  • The foam feels weird.
  • It dries out your hands.

I found that pinching the flower bunches together and pushing them in as a group worked well.

collage of pinching the flower stems together, and pushing them into the foam ball to make the wreath

If you’re not a wreath making veteran, it helps to keep turning your piece to see it at different angles. Even placing it on the floor and standing over it can help give you an idea of how it will look hanging on a door.

I made the mistake of trying to completely fill in one section at a time. The end result was very uneven and kind of goofy. But it’s colorful and fun, too.

Here it is finished.

wreath made from yard trimmings hanging on door

 

The second wreath was much more loose. I filled in general areas first, then added more to spots that seemed bare. I used colors in groups of three. Then I stuck in additional pods for depth and texture. That one looks more goofy than anything else. We’ll call it a work in progress. And no. I’m not posting pictures of that one yet. I have my pride.

Here’s the first one, in context.

front porch with flower pots and wreath hanging on door

I think they’ll do for now. Since the grasses, flowers and seed pods are a renewable resource, I’ll make new ones for fall and the following spring. I can only get better, right? (Oh my lands, I hope so.)

Hanging

To hang these babies, I jabbed some florist’s wire into the back of the foam, at an angle. I used light-duty command hooks on the door’s windows, and placed the wreaths there. This worked for about 24 hours.

The aluminum wire pulled right out of both wreaths. Getting jarred every time the door opened and shut brought about the demise of one of wreaths. The other was, umm, gone with the wind.

So. Mom to the rescue.

Maybe she should’ve written this post.

There are probably methods you’re supposed to use for hanging these guys. But, whatever. Mom’s idea was to use a wire shirt hanger. And it was genius. I snipped off the hook and neck, and cut the remaining wire down to size. After a few trials and some errors, we figured out how it needed to be bent.

If you’re not using a foam half ball, you won’t need this step. You’ve still got to figure out how to hang your masterpiece, but you’re on your own, pal.

Bend the length of wire in half, like a v or u. Now, hold those ends together and bend in half again, making the bend very tight. You don’t want to ends splayed out, but running parallel.

collage of wire shirts hanger, bent for hanging wreath

Decide what the top of your wreath is. Jab the ends up through the front of your foam ball, accordingly. The back should look like this.

bent wire hanger inserted into foam wreath base

loop part of bent wire hanger, inserted into foam wreath base

 

The tension from the wire’s folds make for a strong grip. You can hang up your masterpiece without worry.

The next time, I’ll insert the hanging wire FIRST. This means I have to put in a little more forethought than I usually do. (As in, any forethought whatsoever.) I’ll have to know what the “top” of the wreath is going to look like. But, I won’t drop the wreath on it’s face (repeatedly) while trying to get that darned loop in, only to find it’s crooked and poking out through the front.

So, there you go, Friend. Cheap and charming. I’m all about upping that curb appeal by using what I have. And now, I have more spray paint. Not bad at all!

So, what do you have around your place that you can use to add a little charm? Are you a wreath-maker? (I am in awe…) If so, I’d love your tips! Let me know in the comments below.

~m

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