How to Make a Stacked Pumpkin Decoration for Fall
Stacked pumpkin topiaries are a fun and festive way to decorate for Halloween and the fall season. Easy to put together, you can use either real or fake pumpkins to make your topiaries. You can decorate your pumpkins in any way you choose or leave them in their natural state. You'll find these colorful stacked decorations are a great way to add a touch of fall to your yard or porch, dress up your dining table, or to accessorize your holiday mantle.
Choosing Your Pumpkins
- I used three pumpkins in each of my stacked decorations, but you can use as many as you want. Choosing pumpkins that decrease in size gives your topiary a more classical look, but you can also use pumpkins that are all the same size for a uniform design.
- If you are using real pumpkins, choose ones that have an even, level bottom and a flat top with no slope so that your gourds will sit straight on top of each other.
- If you use fake pumpkins, pick ones that look the most realistic in shape, color, and texture.
Materials for Making a Large Stacked Pumpkin Topiary
Your materials for this project will vary a little depending on the design you want and the materials you have at hand. Here is a basic list of supplies for building a large pumpkin topiary:
- A bunch of pumpkins: These can either be real or fake pumpkins (do not, however, use fabric or paper maché pumpkins if you are putting your topiary outside). I used styrofoam pumpkins for all of my topiaries because I live in a warm climate and wanted my decorations to last through the season.
- A planter, basket, or birdbath to use as a base for your topiary
- Coordinating ribbon and fall leaves or wreaths to decorate your topiary
- Hot glue or Liquid Nail to glue your pumpkins in place
- Utility knife or scissors
Directions for Making a Large Stacked Pumpkin Decoration
1. Cut down or remove the stems from the pumpkins you plan to stack to make your topiary. You may want to leave the stem on your top pumpkin until you have the plan for your decoration complete. You may decide you want to leave that stem in place.
To cut down the stem on a real pumpkin, use a utility knife to trim off the stem as close as possible to the top of your pumpkin. Then use a sander to grind down the remaining stem so that it does not interfere with stacking your pumpkins.
You can usually remove the stem from fake pumpkins by just pulling on it until it pops out. Be gentle so that you don't dent or tear your pumpkin. You may need to use a utility knife to pry the stem out or cut through some glue before the stem is loose.
2. Next, you'll want to play around a bit to see how your pumpkins fit together. Place your bottom pumpkin in your base and twist it around until it sits level in your container. Each pumpkin is going to need to be level so that your topiary will stand straight.
If there are any gaps between your pumpkin and your base, you can fill them with leaves or artificial flowers. You can also put a grapevine wreath on top of your base and nest your bottom pumpkin in it. Using a wreath as part of your base will also build height in your topiary if you want it to stand higher.
3. Without using any glue, start stacking your pumpkins on top of each other and begin to fit them together. You may need to turn each pumpkin around to see where it sits level on top of the pumpkin under it. With each pumpkin, step back and make sure that your topiary is standing straight. You may not be able to build your stack so that it is straight from every angle, but be sure that it looks straight from the front.
Once you get your pumpkins balanced and standing straight, you may want to make them on the back with some chalk lines or arrows so you can line them up again when it is time to glue them in place.
4. Now is the time, if you choose, to decorate your pumpkins. Take apart your stack and embellish your pumpkins however you want. Look on the internet or on Pinterest for ideas to carve or paint your pumpkin. You can also decorate it with stickers, stencils, or glitter!
When decorating your pumpkins, make sure you keep in mind the orientation for stacking your pumpkins. You'll want your decoration to be facing forward in your stack, so be sure you are decorating the side that will face front when your topiary is finished.
I chose to leave my pumpkins in their natural state, but tie up my stack with ribbon. To do this, I used two coordinating colors of ribbon. I cut a length of each ribbon that was long enough to go up both sides with extra at the end to tie in a bow. Next, I turned my bottom pumpkin over and pinned the mid point of each of my ribbons to the bottom of my pumpkin in an X shape (you could also use hot glue to attach the ribbon to the bottom of your pumpkin). Then I began to build my stack of pumpkins.
To Begin Building Your Stacked Pumpkin Topiary
- If your topiary is going to be outside, or if you have children or pets in your home, you may want to weight down the base of your decoration. You can do this by filling your container with dirt or adding some rocks to the base. You may also want to glue your bottom pumpkin to the rim of your container using some hot glue.
- Next, place your bottom pumpkin in your container. This would be the time to add any floral accessories or a wreath to fill in any gaps between your pumpkin and your base. If you are going to tie your stack of pumpkins with ribbon, make sure your ribbon is attached to your pumpkin, but hanging loose from the base.
- Put some hot glue around the stem of your pumpkin and place the next pumpkin on top of it. The hot glue will not give you much time to arrange your pumpkins, so you may want to use Liquid Nail to stick your stack together. Liquid Nail will give you more time to adjust the placement of each pumpkin, but the Liquid Nail will need to dry overnight.
- Continue in this manner to add each pumpkin to your topiary. When your top pumpkin is in place, you can add additional decoration with artificial flowers, leaves, acorns, or a bow.
To tie off the ribbon on my stack of pumpkins, I pinned the end of each of my ribbons around the stem of my top pumpkin. I cut off my ribbons and added a few leaves as decoration, but you could also create a bow to complete your topiary.
Make a Stacked Pumpkin Topiary as a Table Centerpiece
The materials and process for making a stacked pumpkin centerpiece are basically the same as the large topiary outlined above.
1. You can use a large decorative bowl, a smaller planter or a chunky candlestick as the base for your centerpiece. I used a medium-size wooden bowl.
2. You may want to use slightly smaller pumpkins for your tabletop topiary.
3. Put some bubble wrap or a towel in the bottom of your base. This will raise your bottom pumpkin up in your container and also give it something to nest in. You can cover your bubble wrap or towel from view with some artificial flowers or leaves.
4. Remove your pumpkin stems and do a practice arrangement as listed in Steps 1 and 2 above.
5. Now take apart your practice stack and decorate your pumpkins if you wish.
I chose to wrap each of my pumpkins with a different type of twine or ribbon. I wrapped my bottom pumpkin with twine, my middle pumpkin with gold ric rac, and the top one with string. I like the combination of rustic elements like the twine and my wooden bowl, with highlights of gold for some added sparkle.
To do this, I cut six to eight equal lengths of twine or ribbon that reached from the bottom of my pumpkin to the top with a couple of extra inches to spare. Spreading my twine or ribbon-like spokes on a wheel, I glued one end of each piece of twine or ribbon to the bottom of my pumpkin using hot glue (see photo above).
I then turned my pumpkin over and pulled each string up to the top, running each string up one of the grooves in the sides of my pumpkin. I trimmed and glued each end to the top of my pumpkin using more hot glue. I was able to stuff my ends into the hole where the stem used to be and hold them in place with a few drops of glue.
6. I decorated each pumpkin in this same manner. Then I stacked and glued my pumpkins as directed above. I completed my table topiary with a few leaves and little pumpkins.
I used this same process to create a small pumpkin topiary for my mantle. I used a large candle holder as my base. Then I wrapped each of my pumpkins with one length of ribbon, gluing both ends on the bottom of my pumpkin. When I stacked my pumpkins, I positioned them so that the ribbon was at alternating angles. I wrapped my smallest pumpkin with some thin curling ribbon and let the ends hang down my finished topiary in curls.
I love my stacked pumpkin topiaries and think they give my home a charming fall touch.
Questions & Answers
What is Liquid Nail?
Liquid Nail is a strong and permanent adhesive. It is sold in a tube and comes in clear and white colors. It is available at most hardware and home improvement stores.
© 2015 Donna Herron