Tagged: Outdoor Living

Natural Ways to Reuse Your Tree

As we pack away our ornaments and lights until next Christmas, we've been brainstorming a few ways to enjoy our holiday evergreen a bit longer. Our festive firs are headed outside for new uses in the winter landscape, from bird sanctuaries to fuel for the fire pit. Recently, Field Visual Director Melissa B. shared some creative ways to reuse your tree after Christmas. Read on for her top 5.

Build a Bird Habitat: After removing the decorations, place your tree outside in its stand, preferably near existing bird houses or feeders to provide extra shelter for feathered friends. Hang additional feeders from the branches, or make your own by coating pinecones and dried bagels with peanut butter and seeds. Other DIY feeder ideas include strings of popcorn, cranberries, nuts, and sliced oranges (a favorite of cardinals). If you choose a spot near a window, you can watch the birds come and go all winter long. 

Overwinter the Garden: Pine boughs make great insulation when laid over perennial beds in cold weather, helping to protect the plants from snow and reduce frost heaving. Evergreen needles also make an excellent mulch for ground-covering crops like strawberries. Quick to dry and slow to decompose, they're an all-natural, moisture and mold-free alternative to traditional mulches.

Elevate Your Containers: Trim away the branches and saw the trunk of your tree into different lengths, creating natural risers to add interest in your spring container garden.

Fuel the Fire Pit: Quick to ignite, pine branches make a great starter for outdoor fires. Avoid using them indoors, where creosote build-up can occur. 

Light Up the Landscape: String your tree with simple, white lights and place it outside your window, where its cheerful glow can brighten evenings all winter long.  


A Cross-Country Christmas Letter

In a season full of merry surprises, a simple note found in our nursery is spreading lots of good cheer. Discovered among the branches of a freshly-cut fir, a greeting from a little girl in Oregon was received by a Pennsylvania family. We're thrilled to share this tale of cross-country Christmas cheer, perfectly embodying the togetherness of Christmastide.

Our store team shares, "The best story of the season comes all the way from Silverton, Oregon. A family was choosing their tree at Styer's when they happened to find a small, rolled up note attached to a branch. It was from a young girl named Emma, an Oregon elementary-schooler, wishing the person who chose the tree a Merry Christmas. She asked for a letter in return, so she can tell the tree's recipient about its roots in Oregon farm country. The family who bought the tree has children, and can't wait to write back!" Take a peek, above, at the full letter.


Founded in 1880, Sweden’s Wetterlings Axe Works may be the world’s oldest traditional axe manufacturer. Crafted by a small team of blacksmiths, their heirloom hatchets and axes combine centuries of Swedish heritage in forestry and steel-making with a dedication to utility and quality. We recently caught up with Wetterlings’ Julia Kalthoff to learn more about the company’s history, and how their heritage carries into the present.

“Wetterlings began as a collaboration between two brothers, Sven Axel and Otto Wetterling,” says Julia. “Sven Axel started making axes to supply Sweden’s booming forestry industry—at the time, the country was very rural and filled with forests. Otto, an engineer, studied new industrial technologies in America. His technical knowledge paired with centuries of Swedish steel-making and forestry tradition to make Wetterlings instantly prosperous.


A longterm collaboration for Landscape by Terrain, the home and gardens above were built in the 1990s by a young family, drawing inspiration from traditional country estates. As the family has evolved over the years, the look and feel of the landscape has also changed with the help of our landscape experts, blending indoor and outdoor spaces while providing welcoming places to gather. We recently caught up with two members of the team-- Fine Gardening Manager Greg O. and Installation Designer Matt M.-- to learn how this updated garden came to life.

Greg tells us, "We've installed this landscape incrementally over several years. The client has impeccable taste and has been very involved in the plant choices; all of terrain's  landscape and design teams have also collaborated to make sure the garden is a success. Landscape by Terrain did the design and installation, while Fine Gardening has cared for the garden, making sure it maintains its integrity as it matures. Finally, Matt came in from Design by Terrain to style portions of the interior, plant exterior containers, and add garden accessories."

Some elements of the landscape were dictated by practical concerns. There's no irrigation on the property and an abundance of deer, so plant choices had to be made thoughtfully. Greg says, "This landscape is a study in texture and color. So much of a garden is appreciated through the feelings that it evokes. Plant materials and hardscape choices create subconcious responses; though often not articulated, they are the very things that help us feel at ease in an environment. For example, natural wood gives a sense of warmth, home and comfort. Natural stone surfaces speak to stability and timelessness. A carefully chosen mix of these with a purposeful palette of plants has made this landscape inviting and truly restful." 

Organized as a connected series of outdoor rooms, the landscape remains soft and welcoming throughout. The Drive Court invites visitors in with soft grasses and spheres in the center circle. Lavender lantana and Verbena boniarensis set the color palette, introducing a wispy wildflower theme that continues throughout the property. Sweeps of ornamental grasses, and perennials such as Amsonia hubrechtii, Calomentha nepatoides, and Cariopteris link the different spaces and add soft movement with the slightest breeze.

Once the landscape installation was complete, Matt put the finishing touches on the home and garden with indoor styling and planted containers. He says, "I worked to contrast the formality of the home with materials that were softer, more approachable, and more unexpected. I removed some traditional, wrought iron urn pairings and clipped holly hedges, then created mass meadow groupings and asymmetrical entryway plantings. This tension brings the exterior of the house to life and allows for a fluid use of natural materials inside, too. The naturalized plantings play so beautifully off the stone exterior of the home."

Greg adds, "Gardens are dynamic and ever-changing; this landscape will continue to be edited and updated as it matures. Certain plants have not performed well and have been replaced, while others that we considered rather experimental have surprised us by performed marvelously. That's the very thing that makes gardening so rewarding."

Ready to plan your own garden? Learn more about our landscape services.