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The Do's and Don'ts of Decorating Your Trees

The Do's and Don'ts of Decorating Your Trees

If you are trying to add a little bit of pizzazz and color to your backyard, you may have considered putting up some decorations on your trees. There are a lot of great options out there, you just need to make sure they’re safe for your tree.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common options for decorating the trees in your yard, and discuss the do’s and don’ts of dressing up your landscaping.


The most common decoration you will see on outdoor trees, especially during the upcoming holiday months, are outdoor string lights. Whether you are putting up Christmas lights or simply stringing up some lights for outdoor summer parties, there is a list of do’s and don’ts.

What to Do

Make sure to thoroughly prepare before purchasing and hanging up your new lights. You will want to measure the tree that you are putting lights on. If you are wrapping lights around a tree, make sure to measure around the tree trunk and the height of the tree. This will assist you in buying the correct amount of lights.

You will also want to decide how far apart you want the lights, and then simply divide the height by that distance. After that, multiply that by the circumference to see how many feet of the lights you will need.

Make sure that you choose lights that are for outdoor use. This will help prevent any damage or burns on your tree.

You should also secure the (weatherproof) extension cord you are using at the foot of the tree. That way you don’t trip on it later, and it doesn’t get in the way of you mowing the lawn.

We also recommend trying out your lights beforehand, that way you don’t plug them in on the tree and realize that half of them don’t light up.

What Not to Do

To make sure you are being safe with your electricity, do not use more than three strands of lights per extension cord.

While wrapping the lights around or on the tree, make sure not to do it too tightly. This could damage the bark on the tree or even prevent growth from happening if wrapped tightly enough.


Another common decoration you may be considering for your trees are birdhouses. These are a fantastic way to invite local birds to your yard, and giving them a place to rest and eat. However, you should be careful about hanging them up.

What to Do

Choose a few bird species that reside in your area and nests in cavities. Then do some research and consult a reference like this to find out what the best size is for your birdhouse. Typically different bird species are going to prefer houses of different sizes, and even at different heights as well.

Make sure to choose a tree that has anywhere from a four to a twelve inch diameter at breast height, as well as many low branches that will allow birds to perch near the birdhouse.

We recommend choosing a hardwood for your birdhouse, as pines and other species with sap tend to make the experience much stickier. It is also a good idea to choose a tree that can provide food for the birds, like hollies, oaks, or cherries.

For the actual hanging process, the best way to do it is with straps. Any kind of strong fabric or cordage will work, but we definitely really like using flat nylon webbing. You can even glue/sew/staple Velcro to the fabric, which allows you to strap it to the tree without any kind of invasive process for the tree. If you don’t like that idea, you can also purchase straps that have fasteners already.

Make sure the straps you choose are strong enough to withstand weather and the weight of your birdhouse. Also ensure that it is tightly secured when fastening the birdhouse to the tree.

After mounting it, you will want to periodically monitor and loosen the straps to account for the tree’s growth. If they stay too tight, over time they will girdle the tree – this will eventually result in its death. We recommend removing it once a year, cleaning it out, and then re-attaching it to make sure it is loose enough.

What Not to Do

Do not nail the birdhouse to the tree. When you drive a screw or nail into the bark of your tree, you are exposing the extremely delicate cambium, xylem, and phloem to bacteria, viruses, bugs, and fungi. While your tree will most likely survive this wound, it isn’t a great risk to take. This is especially true of a young, new tree and an already diseased tree.

We also don’t recommend making the birdhouse too heavy. If a mama bird lays eggs in the nest and it falls, it could be a tragic end for the family. It can be a bigger birdhouse without being incredibly heavy and dense.


Last but not least, let’s talk about hanging signs on your tree. Whether you want a little sign to welcome guests, show off your garden, or just to share a nice thought or quote, there are a lot of great ways to showcase this on a tree sign.

What to Do

Just like with the birdhouse, we recommend doing this with straps, or hanging it on a strong branch. This ensures that you won’t be damaging the bark of the tree with thick nails or screws, and it allows your tree to grow freely if you hang it from a branch. 

Make sure you make the sign out of outdoor materials, that way you don’t have a sign that is disintegrating or damaged easily.

What Not to Do

Again, just like with the birdhouses, we don’t recommend nailing or screwing them to the tree, as it may invite disease and pests. You also shouldn’t tie it too tightly to the tree, as it will prevent growth.

Be careful of sticking them into the mulch around the trees. Ensure that they aren’t stabbing any roots, or taking up too much soil space.

We hope that you found our tips helpful on how to (and how not to) decorate your trees all year round. What are you most excited to dress your trees up with?

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