ClickCease Tree Lighting Tips | Dos & Don'ts | Arborist Now - Arborist Now

Call Us: +1 415 310 7781

FREE Seasonal Planting Guide

Get Our Free Seasonal Planting Guide

Wrapping Lights Around Your Trees: The Dos and Don'ts

Illuminating Your Outdoors: A Guide to Tree Lighting

As the holiday season approaches, the urge to adorn your outdoor space with radiant lights becomes irresistible. If you're planning to enhance the beauty of your trees, you're in the right place. This comprehensive guide will navigate you through the ins and outs of wrapping lights around your beloved arboreal companions. We'll delve into a plethora of tips, dos, and don'ts to ensure a safe and stunning display that leaves your trees unharmed and your property aglow.

Before we dive into the practicalities of tree lighting, let's take a moment to appreciate the enchantment of this tradition. The gentle twinkle of lights on your trees can transform your outdoor space into a magical wonderland. Whether you're celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, or simply the joy of the winter season, these shimmering decorations create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

What to Do When Putting Lights on Your Trees

Lights In Tree

 Rounded String Lights Decorate an Outdoor Tree

Select the Right Tree

Let's begin by choosing the ideal candidate for your tree lighting project. 

Here are some crucial considerations:

  • Maturity Matters: Opt for mature, sturdy trees. Young or fragile trees may not withstand the weight of lights, potentially causing breakage or warping their growth.
  • Consider the Variety: Different tree species exhibit varying characteristics. Some trees have dense foliage, while others are more open. Choose trees that align with your lighting vision.

Measure for Success

To ensure a balanced and well-lit display, precise measurements of your selected tree are essential:

  • Circumference and Height: Measure the tree's trunk circumference and height accurately. These measurements will be pivotal in determining the number of lights you'll need.
  • Spacing Strategy: Determine how to space the lights. Divide the tree's height by your chosen spacing distance to ensure a balanced and uniform appearance.
  • Calculating Lights: Multiply the circumference by the spacing distance to ascertain the total footage of lights required. This calculation will prevent any mid-decoration light shortages.

Opt for Outdoor Lights

Lights Strung Up In Trees

A Strand of Lights Hangs Across a Green Space

Selecting the right lights is crucial for both safety and longevity:

  • Outdoor-Certified Lights: Ensure the lights you choose are specifically designed for outdoor use. Using indoor lights outside can lead to burns and potential tree damage.

Secure an Extension Cord

Starting the lighting process right is crucial for safety:

  • Strategic Placement: Secure an extension cord beneath the tree, ensuring it's out of the way to prevent tripping hazards.

Use a Ladder and Buddy System

Safety should always be a priority when working with tall trees:

  • Ladder Assistance: If your tree is exceptionally tall, use a sturdy ladder. It's advisable not to undertake this task alone. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to spot the ladder, reducing the risk of accidents.

Secure Lights with Electrical Tape

Maintaining the integrity of your display is essential:

  • Preventing Accidents: As you wrap the lights around the tree, use electrical tape to secure them in place. This step ensures that the lights won't fall or unravel, reducing the risk of accidents.

Tree-Wrapping Technique

To achieve a beautiful and balanced display, consider these techniques:

  • Spiral Wrap: Starting from the bottom of the tree, spiral the lights upward, spacing them evenly. This creates an elegant and classic look.
  • Vertical Strands: Another approach is to hang vertical strands of lights from the top to the bottom of the tree. This method can give your display a different, striking appearance.

What Not to Do When Putting Lights on Your Trees

Tree Wrapped In Lights

String Lights Tightly Wrapped Around a Tree Trunk

Avoid Electrical Risks

Electrical safety is paramount when dealing with outdoor lighting:

  • Use a Weatherproof Light Box: To prevent any electrical mishaps, make sure to use a weatherproof light box. This offers protection against the elements and reduces the risk of electrical hazards.

Don't Leave Lights Up Indefinitely

Maintaining the health of your trees and preserving your lights is essential:

  • Timely Removal: After the holiday season, don't leave the lights on your trees for extended periods. Lights that remain tightly wrapped around trunks and branches can damage the tree's growth, and they may become less effective over time.
  • Inspect for Damage: Regularly check your lights for burned-out bulbs, frayed wires, or any signs of wear and tear. Replace any damaged lights promptly.

Plan and Prepare

Avoid haphazard decoration by planning ahead:

  • Determine Light Quantity: Don't dive into tree decoration without a clear plan of how many lights you want to use and how you want to wrap them. Ensure you have enough lights to cover the entire tree. Starting without a plan can lead to an uneven or incomplete look, necessitating a time-consuming redo.

Wear Gloves

Taking precautions to protect yourself is crucial:

  • Safety First: We don’t recommend attempting this task without wearing gloves. You may experience some splinters and scrapes as a result of a few hours in a tree. Garden Gloves like ones sold by WorkPro protect your hands from splinters and scrapes.

Skip Staple Guns and Nail Hooks

Care for your trees by avoiding harmful methods of attachment:

  • Avoid Staples and Nails: Refrain from using staple guns or nail hooks to hang and secure your lights. While they may seem more convenient than electrical tape, they can cause harm to your trees and create permanent damage.

Choose the Right Lights

Holiday Lights Decorating Tree

Clusters of Lights Shine Through Autumn-Colored Leaves

Quality lights are essential for a successful display:

  • Select Quality Lights: Don't settle for just any lights you find in the Christmas section of your local store. Ensure that the lights are designed for outdoor use as well as safe to lay on dry trees. Look for completely waterproof lights, ensuring they endure through the season's various weather conditions. Here are some awesome choices if you aren’t sure where to start.

Additional Tips for Tree Lighting

To make your tree lighting experience even more enjoyable, consider these additional tips:

  • Timer Devices: Invest in timer devices to automatically switch your lights on and off. This conserves energy and ensures your lights shine when it matters most.
  • LED Lights: Consider using LED lights for their energy efficiency and long lifespan. They emit less heat, reducing the risk of damaging your trees.
  • Adjustable Lights: Opt for lights with adjustable brightness settings to create different atmospheres according to your preference.
  • Ornamental Additions: Consider adding tree ornaments, such as baubles or ribbons, to complement your light display and add a touch of elegance.
  • Color Schemes: Plan your light colors to create a specific atmosphere. Warm white lights exude a cozy ambiance, while multicolored lights are perfect for a festive, playful mood.
  • Highlight Tree Features: Emphasize the unique features of your tree. Wrap lights around the branches to showcase their natural beauty, and consider adding spotlights at the base to cast intriguing shadows.
  • Lighting Effects: Experiment with lighting effects like twinkling or fading to add a dynamic dimension to your display.

Enhancing the Festive Experience

Christmas Holiday Lights In Tree

A Festive Outdoor Tree and Cabin Lined with Colorful Lights

When it comes to decorating your trees, there are several ways to elevate the experience and make your outdoor space truly enchanting.

Music and Synchronized Lights

Take your tree lighting to the next level by synchronizing your lights with music. Many lighting systems can be programmed to accompany the rhythm your favorite holiday tunes. This creates a dazzling and immersive experience for your guests and neighbors.

Pathway Lighting

Extend the charm of your illuminated trees by adding pathway lighting. Lining your walkways and garden paths with string lights or lanterns can guide visitors and create a magical journey through your winter wonderland.

Lighted Garlands and Wreaths

Don't stop at the trees. Enhance your overall outdoor decor by incorporating lighted garlands and wreaths. Adorning your porch, railings, and entryways with these festive elements creates a cohesive and inviting atmosphere.

Themed Lighting

Consider a theme for your outdoor lighting. Whether it's a winter wonderland with cool blue and white lights or a warm, cozy atmosphere with red and gold hues, a themed approach can make your outdoor space visually appealing and emotionally engaging.

Safety Considerations

As you embark on your outdoor lighting journey, always prioritize safety. Make sure your extension cords and connections are weatherproof, and keep electrical components away from water sources. Additionally, avoid overloading circuits to prevent electrical hazards.

Consider using energy-efficient LED lights, which consume less power and have a longer lifespan. Properly dispose of any old or damaged lights to reduce waste.


Decorating your trees with lights is a time-honored tradition that can transform your outdoor space into a winter wonderland. By following these dos and don'ts and incorporating additional tips, you'll create an enchanting and inviting ambiance that delights both you and your visitors. This holiday season, let your illuminated trees be a symbol of warmth, joy, and celebration. 

Remember—safety, planning, and the right equipment are key to a successful tree-lighting project. With proper preparation, you'll make your outdoor space the talk of the neighborhood. Happy decorating!

Originally posted on October 12, 2018

Latest News

News Categories


Disclosure: We may receive affiliate compensation for some of the links below at no cost to you if you decide to make a purchase. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.