Score Free Fall Decor!

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One more day of high temps and I swear I’m gonna melt.


It's supposed to be Fall!

Even though there’s still warm/mild temperatures for most of us, now is the time to start watching for those inviting, organic accessories for your fall decor: corn stalks, grape vines, wheat bundles, and changing leaves.


So how do you get those things for zero out of pocket if it’s not growing in your own yard?


Do you know what it is? Have you ever done it?

Gleaning is basically collecting left over materials that the owner doesn't want or need. For fall that means lots of opportunities to score left over wheat, corn stalks, grape vine, etc. after the main crop has been harvested.

If you’ve never tried it, you need to!

But before you start tromping through fields with scissors in hands, consider the following:

1. First and foremost, always always always ask before you take anything. Gleaning without permission is the love child of stealing and trespassing. Knock on the door or call the property owner and make sure it’s okay to glean.

2. If you don’t know who the owner is or how to get a hold of them, call the city or county recorder’s office and get the owner’s contact information.

3. Make sure you have an exact (or very close) address when you stop by or call a city/county clerk. The more information you provide, the quicker and easier it will be for them to help you.
BAD: “I’m looking for the property owner of that big field over by the freeway.”
GOOD: “I’m looking for the property owner of the field on the northeast corner of John Street and 80th Avenue.”

4. When you go to glean, be quick, be respectful, stay out of their way, bring your own equipment (scissors, garbage bags, etc.) and don’t ask for special accommodations. Remember: they’re doing you a favor.

5. Send a thank you note to anyone who helped you: the city clerk, the property owner, whatever. It only takes a few minutes and will make it much more likely that you’ll be welcomed back next year.

What and Where To Glean

My all-time fav:


Remember this project from the THRIVE archives?


I made this project using gleaned wheat from my neighbor’s garden after she picked what she wanted. This would have run $20+ at a craft store after the coupon discount.

This year my neighbor didn’t plant wheat so I called the city recorder of the town where I saw a huge field that had just been harvested.


Turns out the city owns that field and they gave me permission right then. Score!


That tiny row of left over wheat right along the dirt patch yielded a bucketful. For wheat, oats or any other cereal grain, put the cut stems in a bucket—using a garbage bag for collection makes a huge mess and often breaks the stems.



I use them every year on my front door and will this year, too (even though I’m planning some fun, big changes).

Talk to your to friends and neighbors with garden patches now about gleaning their left over stalks. Commercially harvested fields may now have a lot of stalks left over, but small patches that are harvested by hand are great places to look. Bring twine and hedge clippers to lop through and bundle your stalks. Green stalks will need a few weeks to dry completely and acquire that wonderful parchment color.


Love, love, love.

But those shapes can get pricey, even with the wonderful 40% off coupons. Making your own shapes is easier than you may think so look around. Ask neighbors, friends, etc. if you can help trim back vines when their grapes have been harvested.  They get some help and you get the raw materials to make wreaths, swags, frames, pumpkins, whatever. Win, win.



They’re pretty much everywhere which makes this easy. Picking up leaves at a park or along a public walk way is usually no big deal. If you’re worried, it never hurts to call the local city public works department and double check.  If you see great leaves on private property, again--always ask before collecting! I’ve seen great leaves on lawns while I’m out running errands, pulled over and gone and knocked on doors before.

My favorite way to use leaves is to string them together on twine or fishing line for a simple, pretty bunting.

I usually store leaves in between the pages of large books while they dry out. The flattened, leathery leaves are easier to use for projects than the more brittle, curled shape you usually get with regular air drying.

5. CORN HUSKS Images: 1. Growing Corn 2.

Sure, you could go guy these at the grocery store, but you can also just save those husks after your next bbq. Trim off the thick, curved bottom end and press the individual husks in between book pages (just like leaves) so they dry smooth and flat. Husks are so under appreciated and versatile. Seriously, make sure you save some.

So go put some scissors, gloves and a bucket in your car and try your hand at gleaning!



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  1. Wow! Great tips, I had never even thought about that before. I have a lot of fall projects in mind that could use the help of some free gleaning! Thanks again Nike!

  2. I've been itching for fall too! Thanks for the great tips!

  3. You have the BEST ideas! I never thought of these things. I even have grape vines this year and I am SO going to save them. Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. Great tips! I'm going to press some corn husks after reading your post.

  5. This is a great post. Why buy when you don't have to? I love to save money! Please stop by and link up to my Share the Wealth Wednesday Link Party! I'm your newest follower!

  6. Love all the ideas in this post. Also, I like the idea of actually going and meeting or talking with actual people! We need to build more community, and this is a good way to do it!

  7. Love this time of year too! You are so talented. We would be so happy if you would come and link up at our first ever link party, Crafty Lassie Tuesdays. Thanks Rose and Heather

  8. This is such a great post!! Thanks for sharing all of your hints! I have pinned a couple of the pics!!

  9. I pinned the pix of the bottles. So simple and so perfect! So glad I found your site on WFMW.

  10. Visiting from Blue Cricket Design. Great Idea! Who doesn't love free.... I CANT WAIT for fall :)

  11. What great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Great ideas. I am also sooooo ready for fall. :)

  13. Woot,Woot good going!! Love doing that too! Nice post...Mel's Designs from the Cabin found you from funky junk interiors linky party....Mel

  14. Thanks for sharing your great ideas! That's what I love about blogs, it makes you 'see' things we may have overlooked before!

  15. Thanks for the tips! Any ideas on where I could get fall leaves if I live in Florida and the leaves don't change colors here? Want to mail me some? ;)

  16. I featured you this week at my Hookin Up with HoH party!

    Feel free to stop by and grab a button if you'd like!


    Allison @ House of Hepworths

  17. Found your blog at House of Hepworths! Great ideas and your sense of humor gave me a little chuckle today as well!! :) Come "visit" me sometime!

  18. Thanks for this wonderful "how to" on getting free fall decor supplies! I feel like I should have thought of this sooner! I just want to let you know, also, that I'll be featuring this and a couple other of your fall projects (your fall bottle word art and your wheat wreath) on a fall project roundup this week. My blog is if you want to check it out!

  19. Needed some ideas for a quick holiday decoration... and your posts inspired me...went all natural with grapevines, burlap, leaves and cranberries. Thanks, Nike!

  20. You can also glean food stuffs! When we lived in Oregon... and our budget was pretty tight, I was a member of a "gleaners and gatherer's group". We would pick a bushel of whatever we were picking for us and one for the group... then what we picked for the group went to people who couldn't physically do the work etc... it was great... after the fields had been harvested... we went in and picked what was left! I must say, it sure helped out our food storage!
    Keep up the good work! I'm so glad to have found your blog.

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