Corner tree-threat or menace?
December 9, 2009 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Corner Christmas tree--what's wrong with this idea?

I live in a small city house, and finding a slim tree can be a challenge. I've seen several artificial trees that are shaped to fit in a corner, but my googling hasn't turned up anyone talking about shaving down a real tree. I'd like to get a nice, full tree, then cut a 90-degree angle in it (maybe not all the way up the trunk) so it will fit in a corner. Why isn't this a fantastic, space-saving idea? Will it look terrible? Will I get sap all over my walls?
posted by MrMoonPie to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
It will rot faster since the cut branches expose its inside to the air. This may not be an issue depending upon how long you're planning to keep the tree up.

I'm not sure how you'd get sap all over the walls. (It's not like the tree's veins are like a human's in which sap would spurt out at high pressure if they're cut.)
posted by dfriedman at 6:36 AM on December 9, 2009

Well, the sap danger only exists if you think you might accidentally push the tree up against the wall, as the sap that very slowly leaks out of the cut branches would then come into contact with your wall. So as long as you're careful to avoid that, sap shouldn't be a problem.
posted by Grither at 6:40 AM on December 9, 2009

I think this would need to be a very full tree, fuller than any of the ones they're selling on my block at the moment, otherwise you'd see right through the branches to the wall and it'd look a bit lame. Artificial trees are of course artificially full.

Rather than slice off such a large chunk of the tree in an angular way, maybe you could just prune it quite a lot so that the "back" half of its circumference was less voluminous?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:40 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seems like it could be hard to ensure it would stand up. Tree stands are pretty dodgy to begin with, and factoring in a totally unbalanced tree... I guess you could hide a line in the branches to secure it to the walls somehow.

If you want to try, I've got a reciprocating saw you're welcome to borrow.
posted by exogenous at 6:42 AM on December 9, 2009

My family had real trees for years, right up against the wall or very close to corners, and there was never any problem with sap getting on the walls. I don't think you necessarily need to worry about this.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:43 AM on December 9, 2009

If you find a narrow enough tree you may not need to do this. Something like a Colorado Blue Spruce is pretty narrow, and there are other narrow types whose names escape me (I think Scotch Pine is narrower than, say, a Douglas Fir.) The Colorado Blue Spruce are apparently most common in the Eastern US, which shoudl work for you in DC.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:51 AM on December 9, 2009

I don't think you'd need to cut anything off, just jam it up against the wall. The branches are pretty flexible and should bend upwards.
posted by electroboy at 6:56 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You really only need some branches cut off at the bottom where the tree is widest; if I were in your shoes I would look for a tree with damage or a big bare spot on one side (they are usually cheaper to boot) and with a little pruning it should work. You definitely run the risk of getting sap on the wall if the tips of any cut branches brush against it; I find that Goo-Gone works wonders on sap (but test it on your pain before using it). Also agree with exogenous's concern about unbalancing the tree.
posted by TedW at 7:24 AM on December 9, 2009

I bet you can get a deal on a tree with a big-ass bald spot on one side. That's what we did.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:33 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is a great idea. And I also think only the bottom would need to be "squared". If balance is an issue, tie it back to the wall. Skinny trees look sad.

But more importantly, I think you need to patent the large "squared" idea for artificial trees... right now. (And be sure to include the ceiling mounted "squared" corner tree.)
posted by R. Mutt at 10:52 AM on December 9, 2009

If you go to one of those You-Cut lots you should be able to find a lopsided tree; and you'll be doing the guy a favor by buying one that isn't 'perfect'.
posted by The otter lady at 11:09 AM on December 9, 2009

How about just getting an artificial tree and not putting on the back branches? Then you can tailor it to your shape but have the ability to do it another way if you someday put it in a spot with more space. You can tuck some extra garland between the branches to camouflage any bare spots, either because you need more branches or because you can see the wall.
posted by Madamina at 12:24 PM on December 9, 2009

A little bit of a tangent here, but something like this might work:
When I was a kid, back in the '60s, I remember my dad one year finding a tree that was kind of lopsided and not quite to his liking. To balance it out, he sawed branches off the fuller side, then drilled holes on the barer side and stuck those cut branches into the drilled holes.
Yeah, it sounds kinda dicey, but I do remember that tree lasting from a few days before Christmas through New Year's Day without looking too shabby.
posted by jrchaplin at 4:52 PM on December 9, 2009

Best answer: Everyone is focusing on the 'will it work' angle, and they're right, it will. I'd like to say, though, that, yes, it's going to look terrible. Your mind and depth perception are going to mentally fill in the missing part and make it seem like it's been teleported into a wall. Well, I guess it could look ok if you made it part of a scene like a nativity or something, with the wall as the backdrop. By itself, though, it would probably bother me a lot. Maybe your decorating skills would make me eat my words, though.

Are you talking about placing it in the corner of a room, so that only 90' of the tree is left, or up against a convex corner of a hallway or something, so that only 90' is cut out? Just curious.

I've had good success in apartments just getting a very small, say 3 ft. tree, and placing it on a small round table, then decorating the whole thing by draping a christmasy tablecloth over the table and then garland, etc down to the floor from the tree in long swags. So that's another option.
posted by ctmf at 5:39 PM on December 9, 2009

Buy a tree that is on the thin side and push it into the wall. If its going to tip, tie it back. We buy a real tree every year. They can be sappy/sticky if you do cut the branches so we don't. If you think the tree is skinny or maybe a little of the "Charlie Brown" type, don't worry about it. By the time you put some decorations on it, it'll look fine. Some of the best trees we've had are ones that are less than perfect. Its all in how you look at it. The imitation ones are too perfect and aren't natural looking. Or smelling.
posted by Taurid at 11:04 PM on December 9, 2009

My in-laws have done basically this, with a you-cut tree that was bare on one side. They put it up against a wall that has a big window that faced onto unlit woods, so behind the tree was dark (so it wasn't as obvious that it was a half-tree freakishly stuck through the wall). It looked fine and worked well for the space.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:12 PM on December 9, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I'm thinking that squaring just the bottom is probably the best idea; at least, I can start there and see how it looks. I need to find a good tree first, though. I'll post pictures later!
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2009

« Older Uncle Scrooge presents   |   Holiday Work Potluck, help me! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.