How to Make a Fake Tree: 3 Faux-Real Simple Steps to a DIY Artificial Tree!

Want to know how to make a fake tree? We’re sharing exact, simple steps (with photos!) showing how to make a large, life-size DIY artificial tree!

I needed a specifically-shaped GINORMOUS PLANT in a corner of my living room, so you know what had to happen. I first had to drag my children with me to 178 different nurseries in search of the perfect one.🤣

While we found some “live” options that fit with what I wanted, they were $400-500 and still not tall enough. (Plus, what if I killed it by watering too much/too little/didn’t give it enough light/didn’t talk to it enough/name your wacky indoor plant tip…? I didn’t want that kind of responsibility, man.)

So what to do when this happens?



What would possess a sane person to do this? Let me tell you…

Are you looking for how to make a life size fake tree? Or maybe you’re asking, “How do you make a fake potted tree for decoration?”

While we made this 8′ tall fake tree ourselves (yes, eight feet!) for less than it costs our family of four to eat out at a restaurant here in California, it wasn’t only done for the cost savings. (Although that part was certainly a bonus factor!) It all started with the intent of fixing a visual issue in our home that—after seven years of looking at it—was bugging me.

(We all have these little things that nag at us in a place, especially after you live there for awhile, so I have zero embarrassment about admitting this!)

What was the issue? It was that the fireplace in our living room is off-center. (Why? The “parent” floor plan of our home originally had a much narrower living room in this room. But in our model, they call it the “extended” version where they pushed the living room out a few feet to the left. Sure, it’s nice to have the extra space, but the architects didn’t adjust the plans to re-center the fireplace in the middle of the wall!)

You can see what we’re talking about in this photo taken right after we moved in and painted our downstairs—and right before we had to surprise-rip-out our old kitchen. (That’s another story!)

living room and kitchen under construction

We’ve lived in our current house for seven years. I tried balancing this fireplace wall issue out a variety of ways over those years. Consoles, tables, photos on the wall, tall lamps, different chairs…but none of them were the right solution.

neutral living room with white stone painted fireplace

Looking for an item in the photo? See our Shop Our House page.

The best combo I found (up until last year) was when we put two chairs facing into the room, and I added a plant in the corner behind.

neutral living room with white stone painted fireplace and short plant to side
See how we transformed this room inexpensively here and here.

Slowly but surely, we were getting there. (Design Encouragement: Your space is always in flux! It’s okay if it takes years to figure out the best place for things; your preferences and needs are continually shifting. This is one of the most fun parts of making your place “home”—the fact that it’s never supposed to be “done”!)

That was my favorite layout so far—but I wanted the plant to be larger and fill out the space by going up-and-out towards the fireplace. (Like an upside-down L shape.) Do you see it?

I vehemently wanted to avoid doing built-in bookshelves around this space, for several reasons I’ll wait to get into explaining another time.😆


Because we have low 8′ ceilings in our older home, I also wanted to pull your eye up visually. A tall tree would do that.

I started envisioning something with a tree in the corner like this:

living room with large dragon tree in corner

While I already have a dragon tree like that one, it’s currently 5′ tall and would still take years to grow and train it into the shape I wanted. So I started looking in nurseries for a large version, but 1) they were at least $400-500 for only 6′ versions, and they weren’t in the shapes I wanted anyway!

In the photo example above, the tree looks like it’s wilting a bit—a little more “weepy”-looking than I wanted. I started envisioning something I could completely control the shape of—and not have to worry about it being underwatered/overwatered/getting too much or not enough light, etc. (Life is busy enough, and adding yet another “thing” to have to maintain isn’t something I take lightly unless it’s absolutely necessary!😆 And as much as I’d love to hire a maid-slash-gardener for my home, that brings up another set of potential issues I won’t get into today.)

It was becoming clear that I needed to create my own DIY fake tree! Not just for the cost, but for the fact that I could get that more upside-down-L shape I was looking for to balance the wall space on the left side of the fireplace.


“Why not just buy a fake tree?”

Why didn’t I just buy an artificial tree and make my life even easier?

Well, as usual, I wanted something specific to our space and our needs. (Much like we did with our DIY ottoman, which turned out to be one of our favorite DIYs ever!)

The artificial trees you can purchase are—with good reason—usually balanced in all directions. What I mean by that is you have a central trunk in the middle, with branches sticking out in each direction. And that is not what I wanted!

It’s all about balance, but in this case I didn’t need a balanced tree!😂 I needed it to be asymmetrical for my corner! And GOOD LUCK finding an asymetrical, eight-foot-tall, realistic-looking artificial tree anywhere! (And even if it exists, faux trees at 8′ tall will be $500+, like the below faux olive tree from Pottery Barn.)

potted faux olive tree
Buy your own Faux Olive Tree here.

This faux olive tree also brings up another good point—something I was trying to AVOID. My living room’s faux tree also needed to not have any branches so low that someone sitting in the armchair next to it would get stabbed by any branches. I needed the branches to artistically angle over the chair so gently and at such a precise angle and curve that there was no way I was going to find that in any store in the world.

As usual. Which is why we end up DIYing so much! We get exactly what we want, and often for a small fraction of the cost.

So while this olive tree is gorgeous, it wouldn’t work in my corner the way I wanted it to. (If you already have a faux olive tree or are thinking of buying one, you’ll want to check out our best tips on “How to make a fake olive tree look real!”


How This Fake Tree Was Meant to Be!

At the same time I was mulling all this over, a big windstorm hit. A few days after things subsided, the girls and I were at our neighborhood park, where leaves and tree branches had fallen everywhere.

And then I spotted THIS:

broken branch fallen into a privet hedge

How could I doubt my DIY fake tree was meant to be?!? What’re the chances that a tree branch in just the right shape would almost literally fall into my lap at the same time I’m trying to figure out how to get something made in that shape? (I probably had a better chance of being struck by lightning during that wind storm.😂)

If you tilt your head to the right, do you see how there’s one large straight branch and one large angled branch?

I sure did! And I knew this large broken tree branch could be the perfect solution to my living room corner conundrum.


How do “The Big Companies” do it?

Did you know that artificial trees are usually made using real tree branches as the trunk? Then the company just has faux tree branches or faux leaves added to it.

This is usually done by drilling small holes into the main “trunk” of the tree, then using the wire in the faux branches inserted into the holes to get the “branches” look.

That’s it! That’s all they do! So why can’t you and I do it too?😄 We totally can! So let’s do it!


Testing, Testing: Finding the right tree branch(es).

Whether you come across a large broken branch after a storm or use one of your own tree cuttings after trimming, a good tree branch is the start of making your own fake tree!

branches in basket showing how to make a fake tree

After bringing it home, you may want to play around with it a bit to find the right angles and placement. We’re going to be sinking our tree branch (the new “trunk”) into cement, so you want to make sure the placement you get is the one you like!

wood holding up fake tree branches in basket

In my case, I had two different large tree branches so they had to come together just right. I had Matt help me create a temporary wood holder out of 2x4s to prop up the branches. I then could test out whether I liked the placement, whether our chair would fit well under it, etc.

DIY fake tree branches in basket in living room

PS: Can you spot our ladder-posing-as-a-zipline platform outside? This was before we made our zipline platform in the backyard.

Now for the three steps to get your DIY fake tree completed!


Step #1: Sink your tree branch into a cement base.

concrete, mixer and pot ready to make a fake tree

For our pot, we used an old landscape pot with the holes duct-taped over to keep the cement inside.

hand scraping concrete into faux tree branch bucket

TIP: Depending on how large your pot is, you may want to do this step inside (instead of outside).

Because our DIY artificial tree and pot were large, we mixed the concrete inside and poured it inside. Otherwise it would have been quite heavy to carry in! (That and the fact that once we sunk our 8′ tree into the cement, it would be hard to squeeze it through the doors to get inside without snapping off any of the branches. Remember, I was maxing out the size of this fake tree!)

concrete holding DIY artificial tree trunk

You can let your cement harden into place here. And don’t worry about how it looks, you can cover over that later like I did with this stuff!

You can use a chair or other piece of furniture to prop up your tree while the cement hardens, but since we had two large branches that needed to stay in exactly the right position, we opted to make a temporary holder again out of the 2x4s.

hands building wood holder for making a fake potted tree


Step #2: Drill your holes.

drilling in holes to artificial tree branches

We used the tiniest drill bit we had (a 1/16 size) to drill holes in the spaces we wanted to insert our faux branches.


Step #3: Add your branches and leaves.

For our DIY artificial tree’s branches and leaves, I ordered three packs of these exact ones!

hands clipping wire on artificial tree branches and leaves

Using a wire cutter, remove all the small branches and start stripping away about 1/2-1″ of the plastic covering the wire.

You’re looking to get it to look like this:

wire exposed on DIY artificial tree branches and leaves

Then you simply start inserting your wire-ended branches into the holes you drilled in Step #2!

Here’s how it looked as I started out:

DIY fake tree in progress with a few  leaves and branches showing, potted in basket

TIP: To make my tree look more realistic, I started attaching my faux branches at the tips of the real wood branches and worked my way in and down towards the trunk.

woman making a fake tree with artificial tree branches

You can add a little bit of glue to the ends of your faux tree branches if you like (we used this one because it adheres to both metal and plastic).

TIP: Pre-arrange your branches by size to make this step go even faster!

artificial tree branches laid out on counter by size


How to Make a Fake Tree (Or Other Plant)

The beauty of this DIY is that yours doesn’t have to look like ours! It can be larger or smaller, even or asymmetrical, and have larger or smaller leaves! You can use this exact same technique to make your own faux olive tree, faux magnolia tree, faux ficus tree, or any other kind of tree—whatever realistic-looking faux branches you can find!

(That’s what I’d focus on most—finding the best-looking faux leaves you possibly can. That’s why I got the ones I did.)

You could use these same techniques to make fake potted plants as well. I’ve seen some people do something similar with the leaves off an old fake ficus tree; I would just be careful about the quality of the old leaves, because nothing screams “Faux tree alert!” like bad ficus leaves from an old artificial tree.

Sidenote: I love these branches because they look so realistic, even if you’re not making a faux tree and just want some nice faux branches to bring some green in (you can see how I used them in some vase styling in this post—turned out gorgeous!).

People walk into our living room and think ours is a real tree, so that’s a good test of how it turned out doing it the way we did it!

PS: Check out our styling tips on “How to make a fake olive tree look real!”


Introducing Our DIY Faux Tree!

Here’s how our DIY tree with branches looks now!

DIY fake tree with artificial leaves and branches in basket, potted

faux tree branches / large basket / similar basket / side table / reading light / rug

Remember how I wanted to bring height to that left side of the fireplace?


neutral living room with white stone fireplace and soft coffee table ottoman


living room with large DIY fake tree in corner

faux tree branches / large basket / similar basket / side table / reading light / ottoman / mirror / candlesticks / rug / small basket / vase / lamp / similar lamp / pillows / gas fireplace insert

We now have the height without impeding the armchairs below it!

This room looks like night and day compared to when we first toured it.


living room with salmon colored walls and stone fireplace


living room with life size DIY artificial tree in pot-basket

faux tree branches / large basket / similar basket / side table / reading light / ottoman / mirror / candlesticks / rug / similar small basket / vase / lamp / similar lamp / pillows / gas fireplace insert

If you’re curious about an item you see in our home that’s not listed below the picture, you can always check our Shop Our House page.


“How much did it cost?”

Large faux tree showing how to make a fake tree in pot, basket in corner of living room

faux tree branches / large basket / similar basket / side table / reading light / ottoman / mirror / candlesticks / rug / similar small basket

The total cost to make this large DIY artificial tree was $57. (Details and materials list below.)

The old plastic pot, cement, glue, and scrap wood we used during the project were all leftovers from our garage. The basket I used to put the cemented base pot into is also an old basket I’ve had for years (we used to keep pool towels in it, but I happily shifted our pool towel storage somewhere else).

(If cost is a factor, always try to work with what you already have on hand!😊)

Speaking of using what’s on hand, I also had some of this stuff leftover from my faux olive tree project, so I covered the cemented base with that (inside the basket you see above). I like the neutral, natural look of it!

DIY Artificial Tree

Materials List:

  1. Faux branches (they’re 31″ and each bundle comes with three stems – I ordered three bundles for a total of 9 branches)
  2. Glue
  3. Natural Spanish moss
  4. Cement
  5. Plastic pot or bucket. (Amazon sells sets of these ones we used, but if you don’t have a need for the rest, I’d just advise you to go to the dollar store and try to find a single cheap bucket there!)
  6. Small drill bit (full set here or a small inexpensive set here)

Next, if you’re wondering how to make your artificial tree look more real, you’ll want to check out our Faux Tree Styling Tips, full of info on how to make your fake tree look more realistic! (We use our artificial olive tree for that post, but the principles can be applied to other faux trees and plants you might own.)

More DIYs, hacks & space-planning tips…

  1. Why we ripped out our new kitchen.
  2. Our DIY ottoman coffee is table is made out a what?!
  3. 7 smart strategies for choosing paint colors.
  4. This double shower tripled our space!
  5. Our 7 no-fuss laundry room must-haves.
  6. 5 brilliant kitchen organization ideas that make life easier.
  7. Shower walls: the genius hack nobody tells you.

➜ Our complete list of every single home project is viewable HERE.

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Olivia

    Your faux tree turned out so so beautiful! I have a newly built home with 22 foot ceilings so I’m trying to add some height in the corner because our furniture looks so low to the ground with the high ceilings lol. But you’re right, all the faux trees online are $500+ and I DO NOT want to spend that right now! I’m going to try your method I think. So we were going to use an old barn beam for our mantel but our builder said to get it “debugged” first and to never bring any outside wood inside the house without getting it “debugged”. Did you guys do anything like that before bringing the limbs into the house?

  2. Karen

    You did a beautiful job! Thank you for the detailed info.

    1. Jess

      Thanks Karen!😄 I’m SO happy we did it!

      – Jess

  3. Angela

    Brilliant! I am now on the lookout for branches.

    1. Jess

      Ooh fun! Best of luck on the hunt!😉🤗


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