It's all about the blinking...
As part of my 2007 display I had 6 minitrees in the front yard, but almost nobody saw them as they sat down behind the 2 foot high hedge that surrounds the front yard, so only those people that exited from their cars actually saw them. I had 2 options for 2008 - scrap them, or modify them so they can be seen by someone sitting in a car on the street, and that meant raising them off the ground in some way.
Because I actually want much of my display to be able to be reused year to year, I decided to make the raised minitrees a little more solid than they actually needed to be. 20mm square tube with 1.6mm walls was used for the main centre pole, and 5mm round bar used to make the triangular tree shape.
Above: Here are the sides and base of the tree. Because of the distance from the road to the tree, I decided to make the minitrees triangular, as the difference between a triangular tree and a round one was not all that noticable at night, covered in lights, and at a distance of 6 to 10 yards. A triangular tree also reduced the metal costs, and thats a plus.
The shorter pieces are the base of the tree and measure 360mm in length, and the longer ones are the sides and measure 600mm in length. The ends were ground flat, and a slight taper given to them in the grinder to minimise the chance of cuts from sharp ends at a later stage. Because these were to be welded and later painted, the greasy coating was removed from the bar, and the bar cleaned with a small amount of degreaser.
Above: Here we have the centre support of the mini tree. The 20mm tube has a "cap" of 3mm thick flat bar welded on the top to allow me to hammer it into the ground relatively easily, as well as to stop water/spiders etc getting in there.
What I dont have a picture of is the base. Here I used a smaller piece of 13mm square tube that was welded inside the 20mm tube and it extended about 50mm past the end of the 20mm tube to form a "point" that makes it a little easier to hammer into hard ground. Before I sealed the base totally, I poured about 100ml of cold galvanising paint inside the tube and rotated and tilted it for a few minutes to ensure that the paint coated the inside of the tube. It was left for a day to dry and then the final hole was welded closed, forming a relatively sealed tube that should not easily rust.
Above: In order to weld the sections evenly, I marked the centre of each of the shorter sections, and drew a guide on the ground so that the angles of the corners would be even. The 2 corners where the long and short sections join were tacked. Tacking allows a little movement during the final welding phase later. One item was built with the 2 sides and a base, and a second with one side and a base were welded in this manner.
Above: The 2 pre-welded pieces are taped at the top to stop them falling apart, and then the final base piece is fitted and aligned, and then all 3 corners are welded properly. It would be easy to change the design from a triangle to a square, or any number of sides, depending on the need of the user. I intend to make these 2 or 3 colors, with 125 of each color, and tests found that the 600/360mm size gave the best look for minimal work and cost.
Above: The completed frame is installed onto the centre support and welded at the top, just underneath the flat cap welded on at the start. I usually only tacked the top at this point, at least until you ensure that the centre square tube sits in the centre of the triangular section.
Above: The final part is adding a small support from the centre of the sides across to the square tube. This keeps the whole item from moving around. If you made the trees much bigger, additional supports might be needed between the longer sides and the centre square tube to stop them being bent in when you wind the lights onto it.
All the welds were sprayed with cold galvanising paint and left overnight. Then 2 coats of flat black acrylic paint for metal was given to the trees to ensure rust should not be an issue for many years to come.
Because my original estimate of height was a little too short, I decided to add 300mm to the length of the trees, mostly to allow me to hammer them in about 300mm into the ground and keep them extremely stable and unlikely to move during the season.
This is a completed minitree, but its not hammered into the ground far, as it was just a test.
Here are 10 of my shorter trees, alongside 10 for AussiePhil. Thats a 6 foot fence behind them, so the height should not be a problem this year.