Trim a Tree How-To

Martha Stewart Living, December 2002

Tools and Materials
Galvanized metal bucket
Pea gravel
Garden gloves
Masking tape
Pruning shears
Wood saw
Brown liquid shoe polish
Urn or other heavy decorative container
Garbage bag
Plastic paint-mixing bucket
4-inch-thick floral foam
Kitchen knife
Decorative sheet moss

Trim a Tree How-To
Choose a fresh tree with branches that directly oppose each other, such as a Norway spruce. A full-size tree can be pruned this way, but it may require additional support around the base.

1. Most of the necessary supplies are basic hardware-store items; floral foam and sheet moss are available at floral-supply stores.

2. Stand the tree upright in a galvanized metal bucket filled with pea gravel (you will transfer it to a decorative urn later). Examine the tree to determine which branches to prune. For this tree, Eric removed every other ring of branches.

3. Wearing gloves, place a piece of masking tape at the inner and outer ends of every branch you plan to remove.

4. Use pruning shears to cut away the tagged branches, working from the top down. If the trunk appears too long once you remove the bottommost limbs, trim it with a saw.

5. Once boughs are removed, conceal cuts with dabs of liquid shoe polish.

6. Line the urn with a plastic garbage bag to prevent leaks; place plastic bucket inside. If the bucket doesn't fit snugly, fill the space around it with gravel. Transfer the tree to the plastic bucket. Fill the bucket three-quarters full with gravel to secure. Pour water in until it reaches the top of the gravel.

7. Use a kitchen knife to cut floral foam to the same diameter as the mouth of the urn. Cut a pie-shaped wedge from it. Soak foam pieces in water until saturated. Place wet foam cylinder around the trunk like a collar, and replace wedge. Trim excess foam. Gently press sheet moss onto foam. To keep the tree fresh, remove the foam wedge and water as needed.

8. The tree is ready to be decorated.

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