Deck the halls with backyard greenery. Instead of heading to the store for decorations, why not take advantage of natural décor found around you? Lucy Edwards, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System coordinator for Chilton County, has some helpful tips for transforming your home into a winter wonderland.


One of the most popular natural decorations of the holiday season is greenery. Edwards recommends following three important steps when gathering live greenery.

– Remember that the plants are being pruned.

– Carefully consider which branches to cut and which to leave.

– Distribute cuts evenly around the plant to preserve the natural form.

When making a trip to the backyard or woods, there are some ideal evergreens to keep an eye out for.

“For decorating indoors, the best types of greenery to use include pine, fir and cedar,” Edwards said. “If you are decorating outdoors, it is best to use hemlock, spruce and broadleaf evergreens.”

Once the greenery of choice is cut, the challenge is to keep it fresh for as long as possible. For the best results, Edwards offers the following tips:

– Use clean, sharp pruners.

– Cut the ends of the woody stems at a diagonal angle to allow them to take in more water.

– Immediately put cut ends in water.

– Keep the greenery out of direct sunlight.

– Immerse greenery in water overnight. This will allow the cuttings to absorb the maximum amount of moisture.

– Spray dry foliage with an anti-transpirant product — such as Wilt-Pruf — to help seal in moisture. However, do not use this product on juniper berries, cedars or blue spruces.

– Store greenery in a cool location until use.

– Display away from a heat source.

– As greenery and fruit withers, replace throughout the season.


Looking to get crafty with the greenery? Edwards has the perfect creative use for sprigs of greenery.

Mistletoe and Christmas go together like milk and cookies. However, mistletoe can often be difficult to come by. As an alternative, use “kissing balls” to carry on the tradition.

“Kissing balls are made of short sprigs of boxwood or other greenery,” Edwards said.

Oddly, the easiest way to construct a kissing ball is to use a round potato as the base. The moisture from the potato helps to keep the cut greenery fresh. After grabbing the potato, fasten a piece of wire to it for hanging. Next, insert evenly sized sprigs of greenery into the potato to completely cover it.

“To make inserting the greenery a little easier, try making starter holes in the potato with a metal skewer or toothpick,” Edwards said.

The greenery sprigs should form an evenly rounded ball. Once complete, decorate with ribbons or berries. Hang the ball from chandeliers, doorways or windows.


Bring the beauty of the outdoors in this holiday season with backyard greenery. For more helpful holiday tips, visit the Alabama Extension website, Read Green Traditions for the Holidays or Holiday Spending. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System takes the expertise of Auburn University and Alabama A&M University to the people. Our educators in all 67 counties are community partners — bringing practical ways to better our homes, farms, people and the world around us. Our research extends knowledge and improves lives.