How to Build a Bottle Tree

Written by wendy adams
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A bottle tree is a centuries-old African tradition once believed to keep evil spirits away. It was believed evil spirits and haunts would be attracted by the blue bottles on the tree and become trapped inside and destroyed. When Africans were brought to America, as slaves they brought their superstitions and traditions with them, which is why bottle trees are more prevalent in the southern states. Bottle trees have evolved and the blue bottles are now joined by soda or beer bottles and different types of china cups and glassware, making charismatic garden decorations.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Bottles
  • Tree base
  • Saw or shears
  • Drill
  • Screws or nails
  • Wooden dowels

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    Build a Bottle Tree

  1. 1

    Collect the bottles for your bottle tree. You can use wine, soda, beer or decorative bottles in any colour, size or shape. Wash and thoroughly dry all the bottles and remove the labels.

  2. 2

    Select or create the tree for your bottle tree. There are many options for a bottle tree base. You can use a bare tree or bush in your yard. Recycle your Christmas tree and tree stand by stripping branches bare and trimming them to size with a saw or shears.

    You can create a tree from a 4-by-4-inch length of lumber by drilling 1/2-inch holes and gluing 1/2-by-12-inch wooden dowels for the branches. To create a portable or porch bottle tree in a pot, plant a cut tree limb or small stump at least 36 inches tall and adding long screws in a branch pattern to hold the bottles.

    You can transform an unsightly stump in the yard into a bottle tree by inserting screws or wooden dowels in a branch pattern to secure bottles to the stump. Secure a pitch fork into the ground to use for your tree or insert bottles on a wooden trellis in your garden.

  3. 3

    Install the bottles tono your tree by inserting the bottle onto the branch, wooden dowel, nail or screw, depending on what you have chosen for your bottle tree base. Bottles can be all one colour or a variety of colours installed in a decorative pattern.

Tips and warnings

  • Get creative and add stemware, old punch cups, and unique glassware. Top your bottle tree with a bottle, a bird house, a weathervane or a light. Turn the top of your tree stump bottle tree into a sundial or add a yard sculpture. Bottle trees can be addictive and you may end up with a bottle tree forest in your front yard.
  • Wear protective eye glasses and gloves when stripping branches clean. Use caution when handling glass bottles.

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