Painted Christmas Branches – Illuminated Outdoor Display
by Jane Lake
Reuse your summer garden planters by creating an illuminated display of glistening spray painted branches for Christmas. If you use solar LED mini lights, this arrangement is very portable; place it near your entry, on the deck, or anywhere else where the small solar panel will get enough sun to power the light string.
» 3 to 6 tree branches, about five feet high, with an approximate diameter at the base of about 1-1/2 inches (twiggy brush from fallen trees, or trees already being cut for firewood is excellent)
»Urn or pedestal style garden planter
»soil or stones
»Krylon Metallic Spray Paint Copper Brilliance
» Solar Powered Christmas Lights – about 25 feet long
»optional: wide ribbon, real or artificial evergreen sprigs or wreath
1. Cut twiggy tree branches to a consistent length and let them dry out for a few weeks before using.
2. Insert branches into the ground, or stand in a disposable bucket outdoors, and spray all over with paint. Let the paint dry for at least half an hour.
3. Place a deep garden planter into position, then fill it with heavy soil, gravel, sand or stones. If you wish to top the planter with an evergreen wreath, put it in place now. The wreath must have a large inside hole to allow the branches to rise up through the middle.
4. Insert the tree branches into the planting medium, moving them them around until you get a pleasing arrangement that is uniform from all sides. Backfill the planter with more soil or stones until branches are secure.
5. Position the solar panel stake and begin winding the string of lights onto the branches. The first few feet of wire usually has no lights, so wind this around the lowest part of the branches, near the soil. Secure lights to keep them in position. To do this, I gently parted the twisted string in five or six places, pushing each opening that I made over the tip of a twiggy branch. You could also use clips or garden ties.
6. If you’re using fresh evergreen sprigs or artificial Christmas greenery, insert them into the soil, around the base of the branches. Be careful not to cover up the solar panel.
7. Lay a wide ribbon around the top rim of the planter and tie into a large bow.
Indoor Illuminated Branches
Have this same look indoors by using smaller branches, or buying a bunch of pre-painted birch or willow branches. Insert into a large vase or indoor planter and decorate with battery powered or electric indoor Christmas lights and, if desired, add a few Christmas tree decorations.
I was very impressed with the easy-of-use, spray pattern and coverage of the Krylon Metallic Spray Paint Copper Brilliance spray paint. It truly looks like copper burnished to a high shine. But excellent metallic spray paint finishes are also available in gold, silver, bronze and hammered metal. Currently trendy are pastel colors – pale blue, pink, salmon or peach. Classic white always looks good. Choose your light colors to contrast or blend; it’s up to you.
Solar Lights versus Electric Lights
Solar lights have improved in recent years, but they are dependent upon sunshine to recharge the batteries. Some sets run on rechargeable triple A batteries which can also be boosted by an electric battery recharger. Even rechargeable batteries don’t last forever; if you find the lights don’t stay on as long as they used to, even after a sunny day, try re-positioning the solar panel. If that doesn’t work, it is probably time to replace the batteries.
Year-Round Light Displays
Solar-powered string lights are wonderful for year-round use in places where you don’t necessarily want a bright light or lantern. Wind them around arbors and let them glow among the flowering clemetis or climbing roses at night time. Twist a strand around the posts of your stair railing, or simply trail a long strand among the flowers and shrubs lining your walkway. Add festive notes to lighted branch displays – hang Easter eggs, Valentine hearts, a fall garland or other decorations to celebrate each season.