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How to safely add lights to your trees this holiday season?

The holidays are here and as we begin to add cheer to our homes for the season, many people light up their outdoor trees with twinkly lights. This adds such a beautiful look to homes and commercial properties but making sure that you decorate your tree safely to protect both the tree and yourself is important. Here are some dos and don’ts for hanging lights on your trees this year:

  1. When selecting which trees you plan to wrap with lights, make sure that you select the more mature, stronger trees. The younger, newly planted trees may break under the weight of the lights, or it could warp their growth.
  2. Before you get started, you will want to make sure that you have the proper number of lights which means you are going to want to do some measuring as well. First, you will want to measure around the trunk of the tree to find the circumference, and then get a fairly accurate measurement of the height. Decide how to space out your lights and divide the height by that distance of space. Lastly, multiply the circumference to find out how many feet of lights you will need.
  1. Don’t use just any holiday lights. Be sure to pick lights that are made for outdoor use to avoid any burns or damage to your tree. The same goes for your extension cord—double-check to make sure it’s approved for outdoor use.
  2. Make sure that you place your extension cords safely, so they do not create tripping hazards in your lawn.
  3. Make sure that you don’t just leave the lights up for extended periods of time without checking on them and taking them off after the holidays. Lights that are tightly wrapped around trunks and branches, especially for younger trees, can cause damage and warped growth. It is also good to check them for burned-out bulbs and to make sure they’re in good shape.
  4. Don’t use a staple gun or nail hooks to hang up and secure your lights. While they may seem more convenient than electrical tape, they can cause damage to your trees.
  5. Don’t forget to remove tree guards or burlap tree covers before hanging your lights.
  6. Overloading the extension cord with too many plugs can be a fire hazard. Check the load limit on the extension cord you are using.
  7. Don’t hang any lights on trees with broken limbs, tree damage, or potentially declining trees.

We love getting in the holiday spirit and seeing all the decorations around our great city. Our first love though will always be trees. We are always focused on properly caring for trees year-round and the holidays are no exception. Taking the time to make sure that you are adding holiday cheer to your trees in the right way means that your trees will be here for years to come for you to decorate and enjoy. If you choose to use a company to do the holiday light installation at your home, you will also want to go over these tips with them before they get started. Many Christmas light companies know exactly what it takes to properly and safely hang lights but that doesn’t mean they have the tree knowledge they need to make sure they aren’t cutting corners and potentially damaging your trees in the process. When in doubt, ask a professional arborist for the best way to protect your trees this holiday season.