How to hang christmas lights on a tree trunk

How to Wrap Trees With Outdoor Lights


Lisa Hallett Taylor

Lisa Hallett Taylor

Lisa Hallett Taylor is an expert in architecture and landscape design who has written more than 1,000 articles about pool, patio, garden, and home improvement over 12 years. She has a bachelor's degree in Environmental Design and is certified in fine and decorative arts appraisal.

Learn more about The Spruce's Editorial Process

Updated on 10/12/22

The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

In This Article

  • Tips for Hanging Tree Lights

  • Frequently Asked Questions

Project Overview

Trees decorated with light strings always look festive for the holidays, and they can be just as fun and magical any other time of the year. During warm weather, there's nothing more inviting than a comfortable outdoor space bejeweled with twinkling lights.

Lighting is suitable for most types of trees, including evergreens, deciduous trees, palm trees, and even yucca. Often, bare leafless trees provide the ideal framework for hanging lights, especially horizontal-spreading varieties. Palm tree trunks wrapped with white or red lights show off their vertical, upright forms, drawing the eye upward toward the night sky.

The best outdoor lights to use are LED lights. LEDs are not only 75 percent more energy-efficient than standard incandescent bulbs, they also last many times longer. LED lights cost quite a bit more than incandescent, but because LEDs cost less to run, they pay for themselves long before they burn out.

We Tested the Best Outdoor Solar Lights to Illuminate Your Property

For the color of the lights, warm white LEDs provide a nice, warm glow reminiscent of the incandescents that everyone loves (and with which so many traditionalists have trouble parting). Cool white offers a bluish glow, and colored lights are either multicolored or one color. White is universal and is suitable for any time of the year. Colored lights usually are best for the holidays. In any case, it looks best if you choose the same lights in each color, such as all warm or all cool whites.

Watch Now: How to Wrap Trees With Outdoor Lights

Equipment / Tools

  • Ladder
  • Outdoor-rated extension cord
  • Cardboard (optional)


  • Outdoor light strands
  • Twine or plant tape (optional)
  1. Choose the Trees for Lighting

    Select the tree or trees you would like to light up. Start with one that creates a natural focal point in your landscape. Ideally, it will also have an interesting form and elegant branches that will look especially striking when illuminated. Odd shapes of branches and limbs can become magical in the evening when electrified with twinkling lights.

    A very large tree can have a lot of "wow" factor, but the bigger (and taller) it is, the more lights it will need. What you don't want is a big tree that is sparsely lighted, so choose the right size for the amount of lights you have or are willing to buy.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  2. Test the Light Strands

    Test each strand of lights by plugging it in and making sure all of the lights are working. It's important to do this before hanging the lights, especially if you won't have the lights on while you work. You don't want to put up all of the lights only to discover that a strand in the middle is on the fritz.

    If desired, connect multiple light strings (after testing them) by plugging them together end-to-end. Wind the resulting long string around a flat piece of cardboard. This makes it easy to handle a long string without having to fight a tangled mess.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  3. Lay Out the Cord

    Extend an outdoor-rated extension cord to the base of the tree. Because the cord will be outdoors and may get wet, it must have GFCI (ground-fault circuit-interrupter) protection to protect against shock hazards. To ensure protection, plug the cord into a GFCI outlet or use a GFCI-protected outdoor cord.

    Decide where the visible base of the tree is—this is the point where the tree becomes visible from the street or from the house. In addition, tall grasses, rocks, and other landscaping features might cover or obscure the very bottom of the trunk. Walk to the curb or out to the street, and make a mental note as to where the trunk is visible. Position the cord end at this point. If desired, you can wrap the cord around the base of the tree to secure it.

    Plug the first strand of lights into the extension cord. You can plug the cord into the outlet, if desired, or wait until you're finished.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

    Use the Right Extension Cord Gauge for the Job

  4. Wind Up the Trunk

    Begin wrapping the lights around the tree's trunk, moving upward with each winding. To ensure even spacing, check the distance between windings with your hand.  Use about four fingers to get consistent spacing between each wrap around the tree trunk. Aim for uniform spacing to make the finished project look its best.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  5. Run Up and Down the Limbs

    Wrap the lights up each limb or large branch, making sure you have several extra feet of string. Space the wraps about two hands (eight fingers) apart. When you reach the end of the limb, reverse direction and wind the string back down, winding between the upward wraps so that the resulting spacing is one hand width.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  6. Use a Ladder

    Use a ladder to reach high areas. Never climb a tree to hang lights. You can use a freestanding stepladder for relatively low heights, but for higher areas, use an extension ladder. Always follow standard ladder safety procedures, making sure the ladder is evenly supported at the top and bottom and that it angles at about 75 degrees (15 degrees from vertical). If you need to climb more than about 6 feet high, have a helper hold the base of the ladder and to "spot" the lighting from the ground while you're up on the ladder.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  7. Secure the String

    Secure the end of the light string, as needed, to complete the installation. You can simply tuck the end into a crook of branches to keep it from coming loose, or you can tie the string to the tree with a piece of natural twine or planting tape. Don't use metal wire, which could create a shock or fire hazard if the metal cuts through the light's wire insulation. You can also use a plastic zip tie, as long as you remember to cut it off before long. A strong zip tie could girdle the tree and cause damage if it's not removed.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

When determining how many lights or strands of lights to use, don't follow the old saying, "A little goes a long way." It just doesn't apply in this case. Depending on the circumference of the trunk, each wrap can easily use up 20 or 30 lights. And a tree that is wrapped only partway up its trunk simply does not look festive or complete. Plan and budget for lights accordingly. You can always start small and add more lights each year.

Wrap Lights on an Outdoor Tree in 6 Easy Steps ⋆ Love Our Real Life

Lights on outdoor trees give a warm and cozy feeling! Whether it's for outdoor Christmas decorations or simply to give an outdoor space better ambience.

Check out my 6 easy steps to wrap lights on an outdoor tree to decorate for Christmas or to dress up an outdoor patio!

Get more ideas for improving outdoor spaces here.

Outdoor tree lighting can add a beautiful focal point to your backyard. If your landscape lights are minimal, wrapping trunks of outdoor trees (as well as branches of the trees) with fairy lights is a fun and inexpensive way to illuminate your yard and outdoor space.

The warm glow of lights on trees doesn't have to be reserved for Christmas! This is a great way to spotlight a beautiful tree in your backyard for summer enjoyment too.

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We have a neighbor that beautifully wraps several trees in her yard each year for Christmas. When I say she wraps lights on her trees, I mean she carefully wraps the trunk and most of the branches for an amazing show!

I've intended to do the same for many years without success as I was no fool to how much work would be involved. However, this year I actually did it.

Well, kind of. I wrapped one small tree. BUT, I love it.

The key to this process is patience. Having just completed this little project myself, I do have some insight you might benefit from. I will not claim to be an expert, but I do have some tips you can use.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

  • Clear indoor /outdoor heavy duty lights
  • Zip Ties (optional)
  • Outdoor Extension cord (optional)
  • a healthy dose of patience

Kind of kidding about requiring patience, kind of not!

This little tree took me around 2 ½ hours to wrap. Keep in mind this was my first time doing anything more than just throwing lights up and calling it a day.

I typically love to live my life by the "good enough" motto, but I really wanted to make an exception with this little tree.


1. Determine the tree(s) you want to have lights.

This particular project is not the same as putting lights on your Christmas tree as I selected a tree that as I selected a tree that would allow you to appreciate the shape of the tree branches.

We have this small, multi-stem trunked maple tree that I really wanted to use. My husband refers to it as our weed, because it is typically growing wildly unruly.

But, it is close to an outdoor electric outlet, small, and I like the general shape of the tree. It was the winner!

Tips for selecting a tree:

  • If lights will be left on year round, avoid selecting a tree that is not mature.
  • Be aware of how the base of the tree will appear once highlighted with lights.
  • Is the tree convenient to a power source?
  • Will you want lights to reach the top of the tree or just a portion of the way up? Larger trees require a LOT more lights plus can present a challenge when wrapping.
  • Do you like the symmetry of the tree? Lights will highlight the shape of the tree, so be sure you appreciate how it will look once illuminated in your landscape design.
  • Think about the types of trees, evergreens vs. deciduous? Deciduous trees will not have leaves during winter and will look much different with lights when they get their leaves in the spring.

My golden doodle, Bentley photobombed the above picture! He loves a good project.

2. Determine how many lights you will need.

I found two 400-light strands on clearance after Christmas last year. It required ALL of the lights (800) for my small tree.

My plan was to just wrap as much as I could.

The strand you get will let you know how many you can safely connect together.

The best outdoor lights to use for your trees, especially if you intend to leave up year-round are LED lights. These are more energy-efficient and can better withstand the outdoor elements.

Many of the outdoor LED lights are solar powered. They do have a battery pack as well.

PRO TIP: A quick tip is to pick a reasonably warm day. I was lucky enough to find a day that my hands didn't get cold and no gloves would be needed. That would not have feen fun!

As I'm typing this post, we have at least a couple inches of snow on the ground. Brrrr!

3. Start wrapping from the bottom of the tree.

With the first strand of lights, ensure you have the male end (male plug) of the light strand accessible to plug into an outlet/power source.

My outlet is not super close, so I needed to use an outdoor extension cord to reach.


  • Smaller strands will be easier to manage! My 400 strand of lights was really challenging to get through small branches/spaces on our little tree.
  • It would be best to start with your lights wrapped in a ball shape to help you navigate around the tree trunk and branches more easily.
  • Having a helper will make the process faster.

4. Go around the Circumference of the tree trunk / branches systematically, wrapping tightly.

I did not feel the need to use any zip ties, but you could certainly do so if you felt there were areas the lights weren't as secure as you'd like.

The closer you space the lights, the more dramatic the end result will be! However, keep in mind this will mean using more lights!

If you will need to go back down a branch to connect with another, you will be able to space the lights further apart.

Also, try to pick limbs that you would consider the stronger branches so they can handle the weight of the mini lights. 

Keep in mind, you do not need to go all the way to the top of each branch!

I would suggest finding a reasonable height to stop with your lights and stay consistent with each branch. You will have a much more uniform look in the end.

5. Check your lights

Every little bit throughout the process, I plugged in my lights to get a better perspective of how it would look. This allowed me to make a few adjustments along the way.

You could also just leave the lights while you wrap them to give you a good idea of how they look.

It was starting to get darker when I was wrapping my tree and this helped me see exactly how the string lights were looking!

6. Admire your work and stop coveting your neighbor!

I love my sweet neighbor and love that she inspired me to try this myself. With a few tweaks, I think I can shave some serious time off when I do it again next year.

That's right. I said next year.

I'm a sucker for lights and I will definitely find time to do this again next season.

Did you see my post giving tips how to hang outdoor string lights? This post gives great tips for hanging hanging string lights on a deck, pergola, gazebo, fence, etc!

We love them and use them every chance we get. Lights add so much ambiance for outdoor dining or just hanging out on the patio without a big price tag. As does fire!

You also can see our fire pit in the below image. Here are some tips if you are searching for the perfect fire pit or fire bowl for your outdoor space.

Get the full deck and patio before and after makeover. It's crazy what a change this project has made for how we use our home.

I'm on the lookout for a tree in my backyard that I can leave lights on year-round, too! I feel a bit like a tween with my string light obsession;-)

But, I bet you'll love them too!

Thanks for stopping by Love Our Real Life today. I hope I've inspired you to add a little light to your life (pun intended!). Now, go wrap lights on an outdoor tree at your home!

Have a great week!

Be sure to save this post to Pinterest or share on FaceBook so you can find it later!

Garlands for trees Clip light, views, how to decorate and connect.

On the eve of the New Year holidays, all cities, streets and shops are prepared especially carefully: everything begins to shine and shimmer with colorful lights, attracting the eye and reminding of the approach of the most important celebration.

By December, all buildings are transformed inside and out, avenues and streets shimmer with millions of lights. And the trees with the onset of the dark time of the day look like in a fairy tale. With the development of LED technology in our time, tree decoration has become very popular, it is no longer so expensive and very effective.

In this article we will understand what clip light is, what it is and how to choose the right one.

Clip-light is a LED street garland that operates from a step-down transformer (it converts 220V to 24V current, there will be no electric shock if the product is damaged) with an increased level of dust and moisture protection (IP not lower than 44), which makes it absolutely safe for people. It can be used in all weather conditions, the operating range is from -40 to +60 degrees. During operation, the diodes do not heat up and do not harm the tree.

  • The clip-light garland is very similar to the usual one, it comes in standard sets for 30, 60 and 100 meters. All of them go in segments of 10 m or 20 m, connected in series to each other. Comes with step down transformer. Operates in constant light mode.
  • Clip-light Spider are ready-made decoration kits. In their kit, in addition to the transformer, there is a splitter for 3 or 5 beams.

Available with modes:

  • Flickering.
  • Permanent glow (fixing).
  • With a controller (chasing) that provides light dynamics modes.

You can also purchase additional splitters in the Cliplight accessories section.

Garlands are made of PVC wire (it is recommended to decorate during the warm period, because it hardens with the onset of cold weather and can break when decorating), rubber or silicone (more suitable for installation in the cold season, they will not harden at low temperatures below 20 degrees).

Connecting the garland

The garland can be connected in series one after the other if you plan to simply hang it on the branches in the old fashioned way (this method is also suitable for decorating a high-rise Christmas tree). It is convenient to dress up a tree with a long garland - just wind it around the trunk or randomly distribute it among the branches.

If you are planning to decorate a branching tree, then you need a clip-light spider, which comes with a 3- or 5-beam splitter. With the help of separate processes, you can draw each branch. The splitter can be placed in any part of the clipboard - both immediately after the transformer and between the strands of the garlands.

The wrapping decoration process does not require any technical devices, it is quite laborious, but it is thanks to it that the maximum effect in decoration can be achieved. If you want to find yourself in a fairy tale, you will have to work hard and carefully wind the wire around the branches, the more often, the brighter your magic tree will glow!

For an example of calculating the required length, you can use the table:

At the end of the season, we advise you to remove the winding from the tree - it grows and tightly wound wires can harm it. If you plan to use this decor all year round, we recommend that you remove the winding once a year and do it again.

If you still can't decide, if you still have doubts - just write or call us, the employees of the online store "Winter Story" will be happy to help you make the right choice!

We also advise you to read:

The difference between mini, micro and LED

White LEDs: cool, warm, extra-warm shade - what to choose?

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With a few measurements and a simple plan, you can turn your yard into a magical winter wonderland by decorating your trees with garlands! In addition, you can decorate the house with a Christmas tree, perfectly complemented by bright light bulbs!

Here's what you'll learn in this helpful guide:

  • How to decorate tree trunks and branches with garlands
  • How to decorate evergreen trees
  • How to illuminate bushes and fences
  • How to decorate a Christmas tree at home
  • Street decorations for trees

How to do it: Trunks and Branches

If you're wondering how to decorate trees with Christmas lights, follow the tips below.

Measure the girth of the tree trunk and the girth and number of branches you wish to decorate. Determine how far apart you need between the bulbs on the filament, as well as how far apart you plan to place each turn of the garland.

When decorating trunks and branches, the most popular distance between lamps is 15 cm with a distance between coils of 5-8 cm.

Example: we have a trunk 1.2 m long and 60 cm in girth, and we plan to wrap four thick branches, each of which is about a meter long and 15 cm in girth. To calculate how long we need a garland, we use the following equation:

1.2 m stem / 7.5 cm distance = 16 x 60 cm girth = 9.6 m garland

1 m branch / 7.5 cm distance = 13 x 15 cm girth = approx.

The total length of the garland will be approximately 17-18 m per stem and 4 branches.

When decorating trees, the power available must also be considered. If you use ordinary mini-garlands, you can connect up to 10 threads per 100 light bulbs in one line, which will be 420 watts. If you use professional options, you can connect up to 6 threads per 100 bulbs together. LED decorations allow you to connect up to 43 threads at the same time, or 210 watts, so there are no particular problems with them regarding the simultaneous connection of a huge number of light bulbs. The transition to economical LED garlands allows you to include the maximum number of decorations.

The best way to decorate branches

Trees decorated with purple and orange garlands for Halloween.

Most trees should be decorated with garlands along the trunk and 1-1.2 m along the branches. It is not necessary to decorate each branch, it is better to choose those on which the light bulbs can be placed most evenly and neatly. It is best to decorate the trees together, rolling the garland into a neat ball. The following steps will make decorating your tree as easy as possible:

  • Start winding the first strand of the garland at the base of the tree. Make sure the plug is at ground level so that it can be plugged into the power cord.
  • Starting from the socket, systematically wrap the tree with a string of light bulbs, connecting the plug of one garland into the socket of the next.
  • Roll the garland tightly to prevent it from sliding down the trunk. If necessary, you can secure dangling wires or areas you're not sure about with plastic zip ties.
  • Increase the vertical distance between the threads on the branches in places where the garland will be wound in the usual and reverse direction.
  • Try to wind the garland threads closer to the tree to prevent them from being damaged by wind and bad weather.

DIY: Decorating Tree Trunks and Branches

The tutorial shown in the following images uses one LED string of 70 bulbs to wrap around a trunk that is 1.2 meters high and 30 cm in circumference, and two branches. We recommend winding decorations more tightly and making more branches.

Step 1 . Roll the garland into a ball to make it easier to wind, connect the plug to the power source at the base of the tree.

Step 2 . Wind the thread up the barrel, leaving room for you to wind it in the opposite direction (if you like).

Step 3 . Wrap the strings back and forth along the length of the main branches

Step 4 . Wind the garlands in the opposite direction along the trunk, securing the plug at the end

Decorating evergreen trees

Evergreen trees keep their canopy intact throughout the winter and include spruce, pine, fir and other species. Using the recommended number of garlands, you will be able to determine how many strings of decorations you need, as well as what size lamps should be. Check your bulbs before installing them, especially if you're going to be decorating large trees, as it's almost impossible to fix a broken one after you've installed all the lights. You may also need tees and extensions to connect your decorations to a higher tree.

Tips for decorating evergreen trees:

  • Calculate how much power you need for garlands and make sure that the limits are not exceeded
  • C7 and C9 bulbs are most often used to decorate large evergreen trees and pines
  • Twist the strings freely so that the bulbs light up in different places without being visible or disturbing the look of the tree
  • By decorating the crowns of large trees, you will create bright lighting without the need to wind the garland to the very top of the tree
  • Use extensions to reach high parts of the tree

Hedge and bush garlands

Use mesh garlands to decorate bushes and fences quickly and neatly. If you prefer to decorate bushes and fences with ordinary tree garlands, follow the basic rules:

  • Hang them randomly
  • When designing long fences, place the power supply in the center of the fence, and stretch the filaments of the bulbs to the left and right
  • Attach garland strings to the outside of the bushes, covering the top and ¾ of the length of the bush from top to bottom
  • Leave about 30 cm of ground clearance so that the jewelry does not get caught in water or snow

How to decorate a Christmas tree with garlands

When decorating a Christmas tree that will stand in the house, the main effect to achieve is to make the wires as invisible as possible. If you wrap a garland of a branch, instead of just hanging it outside, you get a beautiful and evenly diffused backlight.