Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ballard Knockoff: Mini Potted Boxwood Tree

A few months ago, while looking at my Ballard catalog, I saw the cutie-pie little tree that you see below on the right. On that particular page, two of the mini-trees were flanking a mantle and I knew that at some point I would want to make a knock-off version for Christmas. Unfortunately, that catalog page is still in the office of our house in PA, but you get the idea.

Preserved Boxwood Topiaries

The Ballard one costs $50, plus shipping (in their defense, they use real boxwood leaves, but still. That’s crazy.) Mine was only $11 (cost breakdown at the end!)

Supplies needed:

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Mini urn (they usually have tons of these at thrift stores)
Styrofoam tree/cone form (mine is from Dollar Tree)
Boxwood leaves (I bought mine at Michael’s, and ended up needing two, not one)
Dark paint
Hot glue gun

Short version: You’re sticking bits of the boxwood into the foam. But you knew that, right? :)

Here’s some tips if you want more info.

1. Paint your base – this will help later to hide your gaps. I just took black paint and mixed it with brown to make it a little more green.

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2. Start clipping off your boxwood from the stems and inserting them into the styrofoam. I’ll be honest, this takes a while. I cut mine into two lengths. On the left (we’ll call that #1) is how it looks clipped off the brown “stem,” and the middle and the right show the pieces after I cut them so I could actually insert them. The thicker piece is obviously much easier to insert into the foam; the thinner pieces (middle below) were easier to insert with a pre-poked toothpick hole. (A pre-poked toothpick hole? Did I really just type that?! lol)

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3. I personally made a ring around the whole bottom (using all #1s) to see how far they would stick out, and then I went all the way up one side. Keep poking and adding and poking and adding. Remember that you’re making a tree, not a bush, so you want there to be a gradation.

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4. As you get near the top and your pieces get shorter and shorter, you’ll probably want to start hot-gluing them onto the tree. I would poke a hole with the toothpick, get 2 or 3 of the shorter branches together, hot-glue the end, and then stick it into the pre-made hole. At the very top of the tree, I just hotglued them all (no holes).

5. My brother gave me the idea to use toothpicks to secure the bottom of the tree into the base of the urn. I forgot to take pictures of this part but I’m sure you can use your imagination. :)

And here she is! How cute is this?!

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I intentionally left a lot of the leaves a little scraggly because I wanted the tree to have a more natural feel to it than the Ballard one. I’m so happy I found this urn – it already had the perfect amount of chippy-ness that I was looking for. (Um, did I really just type “perfect amount of chippy-ness?” Who am I today?! haha)

And just to keep it real after my last post, here’s where my girl is residing until we actually move: on my sister’s dresser, in front of her collection of Coach boxes (for the record, I own not a single Coach item *cough* Santa *cough*) and near my jewelry, nail polish, and perfumes.

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SO cute and Christmasy, right?

Here’s the final shot of her make-over from drab to fab :):goodwill finds and luke 018 boxwood tutorial 021

Urn: $2.99
Styrofoam base: $1
Boxwood total: $7.00 after sales and coupons
(I already had the paint, glue, and toothpicks.)
Total: $10.99!

Before I go, I would like to point out that this little tree resulted in my first honest-to-goodness hot glue gun burn. I have a blister and everything. I am a total baby but man that sucker hurts. Does this mean I’m a real crafter now? :)

Have a great weekend girls! :)

Linked to:
Frugalicious Friday @ Finding Fabulous
Frugal Friday @ The Shabby Nest
Remodelaholics Anonymous @ Remodelaholics
Show and Share Day @ Just a Girl
Just Something I Whipped Up @ The Girl Creative
Make it Yours Day @ My Backyard Eden
Show Us What You’re Workin’ With @ Me and My Bucket
Knock-Off Party @ Homebody


  1. That looks brilliant. I am so sorry to hear that you hurt yourself in the process of making this but you really did a great job!

    Best wishes,

  2. This is fantastic- looks so beautiful!! I love topiaries and I love the Ballard topiaries as well- but yours is absolutely fantastic! Great that you found a way to make one yourself without paying the Ballard price!! Well done!! :)

  3. Beautiful! I think I'll mass produce, because I love these all over my house. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Ooooh, I love this. I might have to try that too. :) And I think you were channeling your inner Martha with you "chippy" comment. hahaa!


  5. Wow I'm so impressed! This is so cute! : )

  6. Goodness, I have a pair of those same urns in a closet somewhere that I bought at JoAnn's probably 10 years ago. :-) Now I see what I can do with them!

  7. I am so in love with that Ballard topiary but like you just can't see plunking down the money for it so I'm going to have to try this! I love it and love your cute little urn too!

  8. Your tree is AMAZING! fantastic job.

  9. I adore how this turned out!!! Very she-she-foo-foo! ;)

  10. Art teacher tip of the day: Black and brown do not make green (but I get what you are saying!) Love the tree! I really love topiaries.

  11. That turned out great. Thanks for the how-to! Have a great weekend.

  12. Super cute! Thanks for your sweet comment about my table redo! I am loving your blog and just signed on to follow you. I hear ya about the frustrations of transistion. We are a military family and it always seems to be one transition after another. Right now we are getting ready to move to Alaska in December. We were so blessed to have been able to rent our house here in WA out for our mortgage payment. I am so sad I dont get to decorate for the holidays though, and the thought of having no Christmas tree for my toddler feels like a sucker punch to the gut. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I can relate and they helped me cope a bit too!

  13. Oh my word. What a great idea! Just think of all the money you saved, right? Love it!

  14. Love your topiary! I agree, I too like the "scraggly" look.

  15. Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea! I'm inspired and am bedoming a follower.

  16. "becoming", that is. It's amazing how you never notice the spelling errors until after it's published.

  17. Love it! Will be making a trip to Michael's! Thanks for sharing.


  18. I like this a lot! I have a Pottery Barn, Ballard, Restoration Hardware Knock-Off party once a month...this would be a great entry if you're interested (or any other project from those 3 stores). Next party is Nov 18.

  19. I shared this on my blog today! You did such a great Job it looks like Pottery Barn all the way! I'm so making this!!!

  20. So cute! Thanks for ur step by step directions

  21. Bonsai trees can be shaped into a variety of different styles. Stump Removal El Dorado Hills


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