How to place lights on a tree

How to Hang Christmas Tree Lights

The job of stringing lights on your tree is no joke, and unless you have a team of elves to help you out, you're likely all on your own to figure out an easy way to put lights on a Christmas tree. And even though this tedious task can be a headache, oh, the rewards! That glow can downright take your breath away!

Chances are you've been hanging lights on your tree the way your parents did. But believe it or not, there are a few different ways to light a Christmas tree. Online and off, questions abound: Do you hang Christmas tree lights horizontally or vertically? Do you go top-to-bottom, or bottom-to-top? Do you put lights on a Christmas tree first? (For the record, we say definitely yes to this!)

Before you start doubting (or changing) your stringing technique, we've got some good news: There really is no right or wrong way to light your tree. If your method of outfitting your tree suits you, stick with it—you've got no reason to change!

Still, it never hurts to try something new, which is one reason we're sharing these tried-and-true Christmas lighting methods. Who knows? Maybe you'll find a more efficient way to tackle the annual task. Now get glowing!

Tip: Generally, plan for about 100 Christmas lights per foot; a 6-foot tree would get 600 lights.

How to Put Lights on a Christmas Tree Vertically

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The vertical approach to hanging Christmas tree lights is a trend that started circulating a few years ago. This method ensures that the tree shines brightly, because the lights are more visible, as they are less likely to be covered up by branches. Bonus: It's a whole lot easier to take them down once the holiday's over!

  1. Plug in each strand of lights to make sure all the bulbs are in working order.
  2. Start with the plugless end of your lights at the top or bottom of the tree and let the lights lay vertically like a seam.
  3. Each time you reach the top or bottom, turn the lights back the other way until you have a sideways "S" pattern around the whole tree.

Tip: Hang shiny ornaments in the middle to help reflect the light for more depth.

How to Hang Christmas Tree Lights Horizontally

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Hanging Christmas lights horizontally is the most widely used technique when it comes to decorating the tree. It's pretty self-explanatory, but if this is your first time hanging lights, you'll want to follow these directions:

  1. First, plug in each set of lights to make sure all the bulbs are working. (This will save you a lot of stress later.)
  2. Starting at the top or bottom of your tree (depending solely on preference), wrap the lights over and under the branches of the tree.
  3. You can mix things up by placing some lights "deeper" into the tree than others, and by alternating the patterns so that it looks more organic. Get creative with it, and have fun!

Tip: When you have to connect plugs, hide the eyesore by fastening the area to a branch with floral wire.

How to Hang Christmas Lights Top to Bottom

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"I string my lights from top to bottom because your plug is at the end of the strand and closer to the bottom of the tree and outlet," says The Home Depot's director of trend and design Sarah Fishburne, making a solid case for this method. Plus, she says, if you run out of lights, it's easier to spread them out this way—and it's easier to add more lights to the bottom versus the top of the tree.

  1. Plug in the lights to make sure all the bulbs are working.
  2. Starting at the top of the tree, intertwine the lights on top of and under branches.
  3. Work your way down and around the tree, hanging lights in the back as well.
  4. When you reach the bottom, hide any extra lights behind the tree.
  5. If you want to add more lights, simply do another pass, starting again at the top and working your way down.

Tip: Make sure you wrap the lights loosely on each branch for the best overall affect.

How to Hang Christmas Lights Bottom to Top

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The Home Depot's Senior Merchandising Director Kelie Charles goes bottom to top because she can plug the lights in first. "It makes it easier to see what the lit tree will look like as I'm stringing the lights," she says. Got extras? Just wind them back down. And if you run out, simply start a new string and run an extension cord down the back of the tree.

  1. Plug in the lights to make sure all the bulbs are working.
  2. Start at the bottom, zig zag Christmas tree lights through the tree in quadrants, section by section, versus around the tree.
  3. Place some lights deeper into the branches and place some closer to the front to create depth.
  4. Hide the lights' connectors by pushing it deep into the tree branches near the trunk.
  5. Once you reach the top, you can either tuck the extra lights into the back of the tree or run an extension cord down the back to the outlet.

Tip: Try to avoid any obvious pattern or spiral; you want the lights to look natural.

Happy decorating!

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Taysha MurtaughLifestyle Editor

Taysha Murtaugh was the Lifestyle Editor at

How to Put Lights on a Christmas Tree Like a Pro This Year

For us decor-aholics, festooning a Christmas tree with baubles, ribbons, tinsel, keepsakes, and—yes—even lobsters, ranks among the most treasured of holiday traditions. But before the fun can begin, of course, you need to illuminate your tree, a task that can be—let’s face it—not so merry and bright due to tangled strands, burned-out bulbs, spousal squabbling, or Clark Griswold–level fiascos.

To save our sanity (and maybe even our relationships) this year, we decided to turn to the professionals for help. Enter Victoriya Tur​, the production manager for American Christmas, a professional lighting company that has been illuminating some of the country’s most iconic holiday landmarks—such as Rockefeller Center’s dazzling angels and Cartier’s glittering Manhattan flagship—since 1968. Tur’s Christmas season essentially begins as soon as the previous one wraps. While, in her case, achieving holiday magic can be a herculean effort (to the tune of thousands upon thousands of lights along Fifth Avenue), she reminds us: “To see peoples’ reactions is worth everything.” Here’s how to create your own Christmas to remember this year.

What Are the Best Christmas Lights?

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Whether you are lighting an artificial tree or the real McCoy, “the best lights to use are green wire lights with six-inch spacing, 50 bulbs per string,” Tur says. “These are the most comfortable to work with.”

Not only are these kinds of string lights readily available virtually everywhere during the holiday season (you can also pick the color or light temperature you want), the green wire handily helps the strands disappear into your boughs. Tur also advises working with mini lights, in lieu of larger bulbs. “These help your tree look bright,” she says. “You can add [larger lights like] C9 bulbs, G50s, G40s, if you want it to look different, but to make it bright, I would recommend the mini lights first.”

Tur also endorses using LED bulbs, which are not only brighter but pose fewer safety risks than old-school incandescent bulbs. “People love to use incandescent lights still—the type of lights that get hot super easily,” she says. If you do opt for them, “I would not recommend leaving the tree plugged in if you’re going out somewhere, because it’s dangerous.”

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How To Light a Real Christmas Tree

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  1. Get Out Your Lights To achieve the twinkliest of trees, Tur recommends using 13 sets of mini lights for a standard six-foot-tall tree. Pro Tip: For a megawatt tree, you can do another layer of larger bulbs (G50s or G40s are festive options) at the branch extremities, or save that space for ornaments. “It depends what you want your tree to look like,” Tur says.
  2. Check If the Lights Work Plug each strand into an outlet before even touching the tree. It will save you a huge headache later, Tur assures us.
  3. Start from the Bottom Up “Always,” Tur says, “because you have your outlet at the bottom, so you don’t have to run extension cords from the top.”
  4. Wind the Lights Around Your Tree Horizontally Gradually begin wrapping the lights around your tree, working your way up. Tur recommends keeping your lights illuminated as you work, a tactic that will help you avoid outages and also allow you to gauge your tree’s brightness in real time.
  5. Step Back As you bling out those branches, make sure to frequently pause and view your tree in its entirety to ensure that it has a uniform glow. “Check if the lights are distributed evenly before you continue to go up,” Tur says.
  6. When the Holidays Are Over “Start from the top and go all the way down,” she says, and—rather than wadding the attached strings into one gigantic ball—be sure to make small bundles as you work your way down and put them in your boxes. Your future self will thank you next Christmas.

How to Light An Artificial Tree

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  1. Remember: Faux Does Not Mean Faux-Pas Though some people swear by a freshly cut Tannenbaum, Tur actually prefers working with artificial trees. They’re malleable, they’re naturally even, and—the best part—once you’ve illuminated them, you can leave the lights on year after year.
  2. Prepare Your Lights Many artificial trees will be divided into three sections. For a standard six-foot tree, Tur recommends that you devote six sets of lights for the bottom portion, five sets for the middle, and three sets for the top.
  3. Light Every Single Branch Just like on a real Christmas tree, you’ll want to start from the bottom to keep that extension cord in check (remember to keep those lights on as you work, too). But rather than wrap the tree horizontally, Tur recommends illuminating each branch from trunk to tip and back before moving to the next branch, following a spoke pattern. Illuminating each individual branch will not only enable you to maximize sparkle, but it will also allow you to fluff out the tree the way you want later. “It’s easier to make it look even,” she says.
  4. When the Holidays Are Over Rejoice—you’ve already done the hard part! Simply keep the lights on the tree’s sections and gently put them into storage. “That’s why I like the artificial tree,” Tur says, “because you light it once and it's ready to go for the next five years.”

Helpful Hints
  • DO: Use zip ties. To keep those lights where you want them, Tur recommends buying small green zip ties to fasten your twinklies in place.
  • DON’T: Connect more than 20 sets. This is just asking for a blown fuse, Tur says.
  • DO: Conceal unsightly plugs or connections with green electrical tape. Because, as Mies van der Rohe told us, God is in the details.
  • DO: Tape down your extension cords with gaffer tape. This will eliminate unsightly wires and tripping hazards.

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  • You’ve Got Bald Patches It happens: Your Fraser fir is missing some fur, or your lighting job looks a little uneven after an eggnog or six. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to strategically rotate your conifer toward a wall. “It’s the thing everyone does, even us!” Tur reveals.
  • A String Goes Out It’s frustrating, but it also happens—likely because you’ve connected too many strings of lights (see tips above). First, assess the lights’ fuses. “Check if they’re burned—there will be a dark color there—and if they are, you’ve probably connected too many sets together,” Tur says. “You can try to change this. Mini lights always have extra fuses attached to them in a small plastic bag.” A dud strand of lights can also be the result of a cut wire. If that’s the case, get a new string of lights. “I would not recommend fixing it because you have to know how to work with electrics—it could start a fire,” Tur warns.

Anna FixsenDeputy Digital Editor

Anna Fixsen, Deputy Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, focuses on how to share the best of the design world through in-depth reportage and online storytelling. Prior to joining the staff, she has held positions at Architectural Digest, Metropolis, and Architectural Record magazines. 

Illumination of trees and bushes. Article with examples.

The house is built, the territory is ennobled, plants and trees are planted. What's next? And then all this lush (or not very lush) vegetation must be illuminated. Lighting for plants is a necessary and generally not difficult task. The main thing is to determine which garden lights to use, as well as to familiarize yourself with the existing ways of plant lighting . You will learn this and much more in this article!

Tree lighting

Perhaps you have a tree growing on your site with a chic trunk texture, which you are secretly or clearly proud of and dream of admiring it in the dark, too. And, perhaps, your tree has not one trunk, but several, and they are intricately intertwined, attracting admiring glances. To emphasize such beauty in the evening, it is necessary to use the so-called ground lamp of a directional glow, placing it in close proximity to the tree trunk and pointing upwards. You can also buy a ground lamp for these purposes. Thus, the trunk of your tree will appear in all its glory, and its crown will be in the shade. This method is also good for trees in which the crown is not the strongest place, as well as for low specimens. Such lighting will visually make the tree much higher, give solidity and some theatrical mystery.

If you are the owner of a tree with a chic, dense crown of an interesting shape, and you want to emphasize this, then using the same ground directional light as in the first option, you can achieve the desired result. However, in this case, it is necessary to place this lamp at some distance from the trunk or lower branches of the tree and adjust it so that the beam of light falls on the crown of the tree. The power and size of this luminaire (both in the first and second lighting options) must be selected taking into account the dimensions of the tree to be illuminated. This method, as well as possible, is suitable for highlighting fir trees, it will allow you to consider each leaf or needle, makes the color of the foliage more saturated, and the tree itself is somewhat higher than it really is. But if a tree has a sufficiently branched crown, then, in this case, it is more expedient to illuminate such a tree with several ground lamps from different sides in order to completely cover its entire crown with light.

Another effective way to illuminate trees, as well as shrubs with an interesting silhouette, or as it is also called - gabius, is a silhouette, contour illumination, in which the light source, in this case, again, a ground lamp of a directional glow, is installed behind a tree or shrub, at some distance, and the beam of light is directed from the bottom up. Walking past, so to speak, the front side of the tree, you will enjoy the graphic image of the tree, its contour on the illuminated background, while the color and texture of the tree will be indistinguishable. This way of illumination, as well as possible, is suitable for demonstrating, for example, coniferous trees with small leaves - needles. If the trees in your area grow along the fence, a good option would be to place lamps for silhouette lighting between the fence and the fir trees, directing a beam of light at the trees. Thus, you will achieve an amazing effect, leaving the fence itself in the shade, and visually expand the boundaries of the site.

With silhouette lighting, the power of the lamp should be higher than with frontal lighting of a tree from the front side. However, when illuminating the front side of the tree, one should not take too powerful a lamp - too bright illumination will “kill” the entire texture and color of the tree.

All of the above are ways to illuminate objects from below - a spectacular and "unnatural" light in nature, which allows you to reveal what is little noticeable or hidden in plants during the day.

The most natural way of illumination (in this case, we mean the way it happens in nature) is the illumination of trees and shrubs from above. This method of illumination is close to natural light, only more intense in saturation. Not only the object of illumination falls into the field of action of the light, but also the earth around it, which makes it possible to achieve a balance between light and shadow that dominates the rest of the territory. This method is only suitable for low-growing trees or shrubs. In this case, the lamp for illumination can be high street lamps-lanterns or medium heights street posts for shrubs

It looks very advantageous on large powerful trees with a branched crown when the lights are fixed directly on the tree, for example, on its trunk or branches. This method allows you to highlight the crown as if from the inside, focus on its most interesting fragments, as well as illuminate the space under the tree. In this case, it is more expedient to use miniature lamps that are easy to fix on a branch and easy to hide among the foliage. Make sure that the cords from these lamps are also hidden from prying eyes.

Shrub lighting

Want, but don't know how to highlight bushes ? Almost all of the above methods of highlighting trees are also suitable for bushes - the effect will be similar. We list them in relation to shrubs for fixing the material:

- The lamp is located inside the bush, the light comes from the bottom up. Such light allows you to see what is hardly noticeable during the day. The leaves acquire juicy shades, clear outlines, you can even discern patterns of veins, the shrub seems to be higher than it actually is. The outlines and shape of the plant are poorly readable.

- G the ground lamp is located at a certain distance (usually equal to the height of the bush) from the object, the beam of light is directed at the object - emphasis on the shape, the crown of the bush. With such lighting, the shape of the shrub is read very well, so the plant must have a shape!

- Silhouette lighting. The stream of light is directed from behind, the front side of the shrub is in the shade. An excellent solution for small-leaved shrubs with a well-read contour and a well-groomed crown shape.

- Illumination from above. The most natural and low contrast way to illuminate shrubs. The transition from light to shadow is soft. In this case, an excellent solution here would be to use small (depending on the height of the bush) street bollards for directional or diffused lighting.

Another way to illuminate shrubs is side light. The stream of light, as it were, glides over the object along a tangent, thereby revealing openwork chiaroscuro. This technique is very often used when highlighting trimmed hedges and multi-level flower beds, it gives an idea of ​​the depth, extent of space and composition, thanks to the alternation of dark and light areas. This method of lighting is implemented using the same ground rotary lamps or small street bollard lamps , directional or diffused light.

Flowerbed lighting

I would also like to say a few words about the illumination of flower beds. The most common way of backlighting is backlighting from above and, as already mentioned, this method is closest to natural lighting. Especially if small street lamps-columns of diffused lighting, located inside or near the flower bed, act as a lamp.

If you want to focus on certain elements of the flower bed, make the colors richer and brighter, then, in this case, street columns of directional light or with the ability to change the angle of incidence of the light beam will do.

An interesting way to illuminate flowerbeds is illumination by intersecting light, when an object, usually a multi-level flower bed, is illuminated from two sides. On the one hand, it can be a ground lamp located directly on the ground at some distance from the flower bed and directed upwards at the composition, and on the other hand, it can be illuminated from above by a street column of directional light. In this light, not only the features of the composition in the foreground are revealed brighter, but it generally looks softer, more natural, and under such lighting you can comprehensively evaluate the composition.

In conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to the color of the glow of lamps for illuminating plants in your garden. It must be borne in mind that yellow shades bring objects closer, while cold ones, on the contrary, move them away. Knowing this important nuance, you can literally play with the space on your backyard - visually enlarge, even in the evening, the modest areas of the garden with the help of cold light, or vice versa, make the vast expanses of your ranch more comfortable and intimate with the help of a warm glow.

How to highlight trees? Evening illumination of the garden. +25 photo

No matter how beautiful and picturesque the garden plot is, with the onset of darkness, all this beauty becomes invisible. Many do not pay due attention to garden lighting, although it has not only a decorative role, but also a functional one. With backlight, it is much easier and more convenient to navigate the site at night. Also, with light, it is more pleasant to sit on the terrace in the evening with a mug of hot tea or a glass of wine. But it is not enough to hang the Ilyich lamp on a tree. How to make beautiful lighting in the garden, we'll talk in the article.

Highlighting the trees from below

With the help of downlighting, you can emphasize the beauty of the shapes of trees, the unusual bends of their branches. The light source must be placed on the ground, trying to bring it as close to the trunk as possible. The beam should be directed upwards. Thanks to this, the emphasis is created on the trunk, and the crown is hidden in the dark. This lighting option looks great on undersized trees. Visually, they look larger and taller.

For downlighting, it is necessary to select safe luminaires intended for placement in the ground. It is best to entrust the laying of electrical cables to experienced electricians.

If the tree has a lush crown, the ground spotlight allows you to emphasize this. In this case, the lamp must be moved away from the trunk by 1 - 2 meters so that the light does not scatter in the lower branches. The taller the tree, the more powerful the device must be. Lower lighting is suitable for larch, spruce.

The contour illumination method is also used to illuminate trees from below. Lamps are placed behind the plant at some distance from the trunk, the beam is directed upwards. The silhouette of the tree on the front side acquires clear lines and edges, and the structure of the crown becomes less visible. Similar lighting is suitable for coniferous trees. To give the trees visual volume, you should highlight them from the front and back.

Illuminate trees from inside and from above

When the trees are large and sprawling, light sources can be placed inside the crown. This will highlight the intricate curves of the trunk, focus on birdhouses. So that the lamps do not spoil the appearance of plants during the day, it is advisable to choose small elements, and disguise the wiring well. If you direct the beam of light upwards, the internal structure of the tree will be clearly visible: leaves, small branches. Visually, the plant will look taller.

Lighting from above mimics natural light, as if the setting sun is shining on the trees. You can place the lamps on supports, racks or small posts.

Highlighting a group of trees

Highlighting a group of trees allows you to create a large bright spot in the evening garden. The option is suitable in cases where you need to organize a separate area for evening gatherings. For such illumination, you can use electric lamps or solar-powered devices.

In the first case, you need to install a multi-way switch that allows you to adjust the intensity and brightness of the light. Sometimes a few lights are enough, and sometimes you need everything to glow at once. If you make a backlight for each tree at a different angle, a very unusual, three-dimensional effect will be created.

Tree LEDs

One of the most common garden lighting options. LEDs have a lot of advantages:

  • they have a very long service life;
  • they are economical, consume little electricity;