Real mixed green garlands can run you upwards of $50 for an 8 ft. length. I think I did a pretty good job of getting the "real" look.. for a lot less. My front porch is an example of where I did it this year:
The garlands in that photo are 90% fake plastic garland. In fact, here is what it looked like when I first hung it:
Not bad.. but not exactly "realistic" looking. It is fuller than a single strand because it is actually doubled up. (I twisted two strands together and then wrapped lights around the double strands.)
So how did I get it to look real? Well.. I used REAL yard trimmings! I asked my gardener to keep the evergreen trimmings he took off a couple of our redwoods and hemlocks. I also was able to take my hand pruner and got a few branches off a cedar tree, which is my personal favorite.
The berries are off some varietal of holly, but I also used some orangey red Pyracantha (Firethorn) berrries since those are abundent in our area (and from a distance they look just like holly berries.)
Here is the exact same garland with that small pile of branches stuck into it:
The key here is to work with what you have. Almost all areas of the U.S. have at least some types of evergreen trees, and you only need 4-5 small sprigs for an 8-10 foot garland. Plus you don't have to use only coniferous sprigs. Holly, And if you don't have ANY trees anywhere nearby that you can 'pillage' then make your way to a Christmas tree lot (or even your large home improvement stores). They will give you all the branches they cut off trees they are selling.. most often.. for FREE!!
I was super excited to find one longleaf pine branch in the pile of trimmings (no idea where it came from, since we don't have one of those trees in the neighborhood) but I used it to adorn the top of my mailbox:
I am so excited to do this from now on! You all know I am a garland junkie! And I love the price tag on this version!