DIY Realistic Christmas Tree Bark

Christmas tree with warm glow of twinkle lights, vintage glass bulbs, real tree bark trunk

Written By Tammy Delbridge

DIY Realistic Christmas Tree Bark

November 6, 2021

DIY Realistic Christmas Tree Bark

5 Ways to Make an Artificial Christmas Tree Look Real

One of the most iconic Christmas decorating traditions is the Christmas tree. While I love the idea of trekking out to fetch a real Christmas tree each year, our family moved to faux trees a long time ago. Regardless, we still desire the look, feel, and smell of a real Christmas tree. This DIY Christmas tree trunk project uses tree bark, so the real feel of a natural Christmas tree takes place without the mess. Here are five easy DIY hacks to make an artificial Christmas tree look and feel real this Christmas. Best of all, this hack is easily accomplished at home. Let’s upgrade an artificial tree to an authentic look and DIY a realistic Christmas tree trunk using actual bark.


#1 DIY Realistic Tree Trunk Using Bark

One of the most important aspects of a realistic Christmas tree is the tree trunk itself. It’s especially beautiful with sparse mountain evergreen trees. Alpine Fir, Noble Fir, Aspen Fir, and Norwegian Spruce are all names of beautifully understated artificial Christmas trees. Trees such as these are intended to show off an authentic tree trunk. Most new trees come well-made with a great trunk. My tree was starting to lose that charm, and an exposed metal rod or a poor impression of tree bark is a dead giveaway of a fake tree. Why not fix that problem with actual tree bark?

Artificial Christmas tree trunk with peeling faux bark


Flexible Bark from Real Trees

Thin, flexible natural-growing barks are perfect for craft projects like crafting your own tree trunk. For instance, birch bark is a well-known bark that comes in a variety of colors. Often used in crafts, white is the most popular of the birch colors. Some companies sell flexible printed bark as another option. The industry is getting sharper at making flexible materials that resemble real bark. 

Elderberry tree bark was the ideal solution for my Christmas tree trunk hack. It is a flexible bark that resembles pine bark. We have elderberry trees growing on our property, so it was fabulously free. It also had a wealth of lichen growing on it already. I’ll show why this was necessary later. 

Another idea would be to use finely ground bark or sawdust adhered with glue. Bark or sawdust would be a slightly less realistic look, but it would do the trick. It’s a messy solution, but if people can flock their trees, this cannot be any messier.


DIY Realistic Christmas Tree Bark

Materials for Christmas tree bark project using tree bark, hot glue, a hot glue gun, and an artificial Christmas tree.


Prepping the Tree and Bark

Before getting started, the materials will need some preparation. First, it’s important to make sure the metal tree trunk is clean. A clean surface will ensure that glue will adhere to the bark and the metal pole.

Meanwhile, any bark collected from the great outdoors may need baking. Baking it at 225°F on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes will kill any tiny bugs.

Christmas tree base with peeling bark


Adhering the Bark to the Christmas Tree

The appropriate glue for adhering to a metal pole on the Christmas tree is critical in making sure the bark stays in place. Namely, E6000 is a glue made for metal surfaces, so it was a great choice. This glue takes a while to cure against the bark, so hot glue is a great way to hold it in place and keep the process moving. By the same token, it is possible to use hot glue alone, but using both may extend the longevity of the hold. Protective gloves are strongly recommended to prevent burns from hot glue. In this case, E6000 was applied in the center of each piece of bark with hot glue on the outer edges to secure each piece of bark in place. 

Artificial tree truck overview covered in real tree bark


Getting Creative: From Faux Tree to Realistic Christmas Tree

Now for the fun part! Time to be creative with carefully applying bark to get a realistic Christmas tree trunk. Cutting the bark proved an effective strategy to create a smooth surface at the edges. On the other hand, tearing the bark was a better way to add a more natural feel when placing the pieces together. The good news is, bark has a corky, flexible feel to it. The flexibility allows for a lot of forgiveness when it’s time to camouflage the pieces together.

I started at the base of the tree, gluing chunks of bark around it. Then, I worked my way up through the trunk while tearing and piecing bark together in the most natural way possible. It was fun to discover that hot glue can dry and look like pitch.

Artificial Christmas tree truck covered in real bark. Looks and feels real like a tree cut from the forest.


Filling the Holes

As I worked my way up the tree, I found many holes in the bark. There were also many hard-to-cover branch fittings. Bark likes to lay on the flattest surface it can. Moss, lichen, and pinecones are perfect ways to fill these spaces and keep a natural look without closing off the option to fold the tree for storage at the end of the season. It’s enjoyable to get lost in the creative process and enjoy the art of making the DIY Christmas tree bark look real. 

Artificial Christmas tree trunk with peeling faux bark


#2 Fluff Fluff Fluff

Natural trees look like they came grew in the open air and not out of a box.  Faux Christmas trees come out of their box for the first time each season squashed, bent, and with some seriously messy hair. A good fake tree will mimic what a real tree looks like outside. Consequently, it’s a good idea to examine how tree limbs lay naturally. Boxed trees need good fluffing.  This can be done by extending the branches and fluffing the needles out in the most convincing way possible. Have fun and remember that no tree is perfect, so you don’t have to be either. 


#3 Tuck in Natural Elements

 Another way to make the tree look authentic is to tuck in elements seen in nature. Notably, pine cones or berries are a strategic way to hide the artificial parts of the tree.  Looking at a tree adorned with items that come from nature is a convincing way to trick the mind into seeing a real Christmas tree. Add a natural pine-scented candle to seal the deal on creating an authentic Christmas tree vibe. 


#4 Cover the Base

My favorite base covers for Christmas trees resemble containers where a tree could grow. Especially beautiful, is the look of tree collars that resemble boxes, woven baskets, and metal containers. They give a convincing feel that the tree is natural and growing inside of a planter. Regardless of the base cover you choose, always cover it to complete that beautiful Christmas look. 

#5 Embrace the Artificial Awe of a Faux Christmas Tree

Real Christmas trees have their charms, but artificial trees have a cleaner loveliness. Real bark, natural elements, and good sculpting help to add an authentic look. The branches of artificial trees bend and move to fill holes in the handiest of ways. The limbs are solid and sturdy for holding and supporting heavy ornaments. These days artificial Christmas trees have a bona fide feel and look to make them as charming as their natural counterparts.

Christmas ornament in twinkling lights on a realistic artificial Christmas tree


 The Look of a Christmas Realistic Tree

That first magical feeling of stepping back and taking a first glance at a realistic Christmas tree is the best. It’s fulfilling to admire the warm Christmas light glow against the authentic bark. I’ve been known to put my tree up early undecorated. It helps me visualize the year’s decorating plan and admire the tree in its natural beauty. A good bark job will do that to a tree. Add a good fluff and tuck job, and let the magic begin!

It’s easy and fun to get the feel of a real tree with an easy DIY project. It’s worth the effort when it’s time to decorate the tree, light a favorite tree-scented candle, and sit by the warm glow with hot cocoa and family. The best part is you can keep it a secret that you’ve tricked yourself into believing you’ve got the real deal without sacrificing your flooring. Whether it’s a tree decorated to the fullest or a tree decorated with simple touches, Christmas trees have irreplaceable magic like no other time of the year. Having an authentic-looking tree without the mess is part of that enchantment.

Christmas ornament in twinkling lights on a realistic artificial Christmas tree

I hope these easy tips for creating an authentic-looking tree will make your Christmas the magical season you deserve. Leave me some feedback. I’d love to hear what you think or have questions about in the comments below, so I can better serve you in future blogs. Thanks for being here, friends!

Christmas tree decorated with classic glass ornaments, twinkle lights and real bark on the trunk.

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  1. Tiffany

    Such a creative idea! I love the way it turned out Tammy!

    • Tammy Delbridge

      Thank you, Tiffany. It’s crazy how an idea can form out of necessity!