Tips For Preserving Pine Branches

Ready for a more sustainable and frugal way of decorating your home? Evergreen branches are perfect natural decorations that are easy to find and don’t cost you much money. Not only are evergreen cuttings festive and inexpensive, they are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint by skipping the plastic, store-bought decor items.

With just a few simple steps, some everyday materials, and a little patience and creativity, you’ll be able to achieve beautifully preserved pine branches snipped right from your backyard’s evergreen trees.

Here are some tips to help you preserve pine branches now and start making sustainable and festive decorations.

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fresh pine branches that are inside a wire bird cage

Why should you preserve pine branches?

Learning to preserve evergreen branches this holiday season serves multiple purposes. First, it helps to remove excess moisture from the fresh evergreen, preventing it from decaying or molding over time. This preservation process also reduces the sap content in your fresh-cut boughs, minimizing stickiness and preventing potential damage to your furniture surface.

Additionally, when you preserve evergreen cuttings, it enhances their aesthetic appeal. It helps maintain the vibrant green color of the needles and prolongs the overall freshness, ensuring your decor stays visually appealing for longer.

The preservation process can reduce the tendency they have to drop needles over time. That means longer life for your decor and less mess for you to clean up.

Fir branches, vintage bells, pine cones, twine, candle and scissors on wooden table, close up.

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Tools and supplies

Here are a few simple items you will need to get started on your project:

  • Pruning Shears or Scissors. For trimming and shaping the pine branches.
  • Disposable Gloves (optional): To protect your hands from sap and any potential irritants. If you are concerned about the environmental impact, you can choose biodegradable disposable gloves.
  • Clean, Damp Cloth, and Warm Water: For cleaning the branches and removing dirt or sap.
  • Sealant or Hairspray. A clear, non-toxic sealant or hairspray to preserve the color and prevent needle shedding.
  • Vase or Container. For arranging and displaying the preserved pine branches.
  • Twine or Ribbon. If you plan to decorate the evergreen branches after preserving. You can create garlands, wreaths, or hanging decor.
  • Optional: Decorative Elements. Such as pine cones, berries, or other seasonal embellishments for additional decor.
close up of fresh pine branches

Best Types Of Trees To Choose From

If you have ever shopped for a live Christmas tree, you know that ‘pine’ comes in a lot of different varieties. Here are a few of the most common varieties of pine trees for holiday decor:

  1. Douglas Fir: Its soft, dark green to blue-green needles are sweetly scented and are relatively resistant to shedding.
  2. Fraser Fir: Known for its strong branches and pleasant fragrance, this tree variety retains its color well and needles stay attached longer.
  3. Balsam Fir: This type offers a refreshing, balsamic scent. Its dark green needles are relatively short, adding a touch of elegance to any holiday décor.
  4. Scotch Pine: This tree variety is loved for its excellent needle retention and bright, festive green color. The Scotch Pine has sturdy branches to support larger ornaments and decorations if used for holiday wreaths.
  5. Blue Spruce: Noted for its lovely blue foliage, this tree variety adds a unique touch to holiday décor. However, its sharp needles can make it a bit challenging to decorate.
  6. Noble Fir: Has evenly spaced, sturdy branches and a long-lasting freshness and aromatic scent.
  7. Eastern White Pine: The soft, flexible needles and bluish-green to silver color palette make this tree variety a unique option for holiday décor. However, its branches might not hold up to heavier decorations.

Your best bet is to find whatever evergreen tree happens to be growing in your yard and using that. However, if you have multiple varieties, choose the characteristics you are most interested in from the list above.

metal bucket filled with freshly cut pine branches on a wooden bench

How To Preserve Evergreen Branches

Straight from the pine trees and into your holiday arrangements, the process of preserving pine branches is fairly straightforward. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you elevate your game this holiday season!

Step One: Harvesting

Choose healthy branches, preferably in the morning when the resin content is higher. Select branches with vibrant green needles and avoid those with discoloration.

Step Two: Trimming

Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to trim the branches to your desired length. Remove any damaged or brown needles and excess foliage.

Step Three: Cleaning

Gently shake the branches to remove loose needles and debris. If needed, wipe them with a damp cloth to clean off any dirt or sap.

Step Four: Drying

Allow the branches to air-dry in a cool, well-ventilated area for a few days. Hanging them upside down can help maintain their shape and prevent needle drop.

Step Five: Sealing

To preserve the natural color and prevent needle shedding, consider applying a clear, non-toxic sealant or hairspray. Test on a small section first to ensure it doesn’t discolor the needles.

Step Six: Use and Storage

Once dried and sealed, you can use them for your pine branch decor and craft projects. Store the leftover preserved pine branches in a cool, dry place. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight or extreme temperatures.

What to do with preserved pine branches

Whether arranged in a vase, draped along a mantelpiece, or incorporated into a seasonal wreath, preserved pine branches add a rustic charm that seamlessly blends with various decor styles.

One of the versatile aspects of decorating with preserved pine branches lies in their adaptability to different seasons. Embrace their evergreen essence during the winter months, creating a festive atmosphere with a simple arrangement or a centerpiece adorned with fairy lights.

Transition into spring by pairing them with vibrant flowers for a fresh, nature-inspired look. They are a versatile year-round decor staple that evolves with the changing seasons. If you love pine decor, consider checking out my post on decorating with fresh cranberries. Many of the projects I suggest would work for both of these materials if you enjoy decorating with natural elements.

Here is a list of ways to use pine branches for decorating your home.

DIY Fresh Pine Centerpiece in a glass vase with fresh pinecones

Vase Arrangements

Place preserved pine branches in a vase for a simple yet striking centerpiece. Add pine cones or berries for extra flair. (Check out my post about creative ways to use pine cones for more inspiration!)


Craft a timeless wreath by arranging preserved pine branches in a circular shape. Hang it on your front door or above the fireplace for a welcoming touch.


String preserved pine branches together to create elegant garlands. Drape them along stair railings, mantels, or across windows for a festive and natural look.

fresh pine branches, candles, and ornaments on a table

Table Centerpieces.

Arrange pine branches in the center of your dining or coffee table. Combine with candles or fairy lights for a cozy and atmospheric setting.

Place Settings:

Incorporate small sprigs of preserved pine into your table settings. Attach them to napkin rings or place them directly on plates for a touch of rustic elegance. Check out my DIY cranberry place settings that use a sprig of pine as an accent.

DIY Artwork.

Frame preserved pine branches to create unique wall art. Experiment with different arrangements and frame sizes to suit your aesthetic.

hanging pine branches and orange slices from a simple string and stick mobile

Hanging Decor.

Create hanging decor by tying pine branches together with twine or ribbon. Hang them from windows, doorways, or ceiling hooks to infuse your space with natural charm.

Outdoor Enhancements.

Extend your decor to outdoor spaces by using preserved pine branches in porch displays, on patio tables, or even in planters for a touch of greenery that lasts. Read my post on porch design ideas for more inspiration.

Pine Needle Basketry: From Forest Floor to Finished Project
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Mallow, Judy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages – 02/02/2010 (Publication Date) – Pine Needle Basketry (Publisher)

Final Thoughts

The charm of preserved pine branches can truly transform your living space. Additionally, they are available for free year-round and can be fashioned into a variety of decor items.

So, the next time you find some beautiful pine branches, remember the potential they hold. With a bit of creativity and preservation, you can craft timeless pieces that bring a piece of the outdoors into your home. So save some money and tread lightly on the planet with your own DIY pine decor! Looking for more creative ways to use pine branches? Try my DIY Pine Vinegar for eco-friendly cleaning.

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