Outdoor Upcycling: Build Your Own Bottle Tree

Bottle TreeAfter our previous upcycling blog post, our staff could not stop talking about all the cool projects they have done or would like to do in their own backyards! Upcycling is certainly a shared hobby among our staff, and so we decided to write a post dedicated entirely to an upcycling idea directly from our own Total Home Supply family.

Sharon is a particularly creative member of our Total Home Supply team, and she sent us a really great idea this week – instead of throwing all of your glass bottles in the recycling bin, upcycle them into a bottle tree! Many people use bottle trees as trellis. Others choose colorful bottles for an instant sun catcher and a little garden pizzazz. Regardless of what you plan to use your bottle tree for, it is a fun project that makes for a stunning decoration in the end.

Here are Sharon’s instructions on how do build one yourself (note: Sharon says it took her longer to write out these instructions than the building of the tree itself. It is a perfect, and very do-able, weekend project):


Using a wood post anchor, secure a 4×4 wooden post into the ground.
You will need to secure the anchor in the ground first, fitting a smaller piece of wood into the anchor and hammering the post into the ground with a sledgehammer (make sure the small piece of wood is also slightly smaller in width – you’re going to need to be able to remove it once the post anchor has been hammered into the ground!).

After the smaller piece of wood is removed and your actual post is fitted into the anchor, use screws to secure the wood post in place (your post anchor should have ready-made holes for this).

Measure and mark where you want the bottles to be positioned.
The spacing of your bottles will depend on what exactly you plan to use your bottle tree for. If, like Sharon, you would like your bottles to act as a trellis, you should plan to position your bottles approximately 5-6 inches apart. If you are building a bottle tree to act as a sun catcher, you can position your bottles a little bit closer (but we will get to that in a moment).

Start marking your post with a pencil to judge how it will look, remembering to stagger the markings as you go (this will become important when it comes time to drill and insert the dowels).

Once you are satisfied with your markings, carve out block cuts on an angle to help guide you when you drill the holes.

Drill the holes and insert the dowels.
The first most important thing to keep in mind for this step is to make sure all of the holes are the same depth (about 2 1/2 inches is acceptable), so that you don’t accidentally drill straight through to the other side (hence why it is important to stagger the markings in the previous step!) As Sharon tells us, “You don’t want Swiss cheese”. Mark the drill with a piece of tape to properly gauge how deep you’re drilling into the wood.

The second important thing to keep in mind, is to drill on a downward angle. This doesn’t have to be a sharp angle, but prominent enough to give your bottles the illusion of tree branches when it’s all done.

Cut the wooden dowels down to size, long enough to both fit the depth of the holes while still providing appropriate support to the bottles. Hammer each dowel into the post.

And then, yes, can you believe it? Your bottle tree is done!


Sharon's bottle tree, from a different angle

Sharon’s bottle tree, from a different angle

Sharon’s bottles vary in color to give her bottle tree an even cooler look, but if your plan is to use your bottle tree as a decorative sun catcher, these kinds of bottles may not be your best bet due to their opaque hues. Luckily, there is an easy way to create beautifully stained (and waterproof) glass bottles for your ‘sun catcher’ bottle tree.

For this kind of bottle tree, follow the same exact instructions as above. Like we said, though, a sun catcher bottle tree looks best when the bottles are positioned closer together, about 3-4 inches apart.

As for the bottle staining, these super simple instructions are all courtesy of the creative folks at Design Folder.

Photo Credit: MyDesignFolder.com

Photo Credit: MyDesignFolder.com

All you need is a collection of clean, clear glass bottles, Vitrail glass paint (available in a variety of colors), and acetone (nail polish remover) to act as a paint thinner.

Combine the paint and a small amount of acetone in the glass bottle, swirling the mixture carefully until the entire interior of the bottle is coated. Initially, the paint may look cloudy, but this is normal and it will become translucent once it dries.

Fit your stained bottles to your newly built tree and Voila! – garden pizzazz.

Garden Bottle Tree


Kristen Turner

Featured blogger for Total Home Supply.

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