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How to Light Your Trees for the Holidays

Few holiday decorations compare with lights adorning outdoor trees. But if you’re thinking of making this a DIY project, think carefully.

“We recommend using professional tree lighting companies in order to spare yourself the hassle,” says Bart Fusco, president of Dan’s Best of the Best Platinum winner Fox Tree Service and a Registered Consulting Arborist. If you are determined to do it yourself, Fox Tree Service offers the following tips:

Estimate how many light strings you’ll need for the size of light you choose. Generally, an 8-foot evergreen needs 300 mini-lights or 100 C7 lights, and a 15-foot evergreen needs 800 mini-lights, 250 C7 or C9 lights (they don’t recommend DIY over 15 feet). Lights should be checked before installation, especially when lighting larger trees that will be almost impossible to fix once all the light strings are on. 3-Way splitters and power taps may be needed to extend outlets up the length of taller trees. Next:

1. Calculate how much power is needed for lights to ensure maximum thresholds are not exceeded
2. C7 and C9 bulbs are the most popular on larger evergreen and pine trees
3. Wrap lights in a random pattern to allow for the occasional light to burn out without distracting from or disrupting appeal
4. Wrapping the canopy of larger trees allows for bright lighting without the need to wrap to the top of the tree
5. Use extendable poles to reach highest parts of tree

For the fastest, cleanest method, choose net lights for bushes and hedges. If you prefer to wrap trees with outdoor tree lights:

1. Use random patterns throughout
2. For long sections of hedges, bring the source of power to the center of the hedges and string lights to the left and right
3. Secure strings into the outer region of bushes, covering the top and 3/4 length down the sides
4. Leave 1-foot clearance from the ground to ensure lights don’t sit in water or snow

Some things to remember to protect your trees:

1. Remove lights soon after holiday season. Don’t leave them in trees for years to come.
2. Don’t put paint or fake snow on your outdoor trees

If there is any kind of electrical problem, unplug the tree from its outlet before attempting repairs. If the problem is serious, leave the tree unplugged. Nobody wants an outdoor electrical fire in a tree near the house, no matter what time of year.

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