How to put lights on outside trees

How to Install Lights on an Outdoor Tree

Excited to turn your yard into a winter wonderland this year, but don’t know where to start? We all enjoy hanging stockings around the house and decorating the Christmas tree in our living rooms. But the fun doesn’t have to stop inside the home! Get your holiday light show started with this guide to safely hanging Christmas lights on your outdoor trees.

What You Need to Hang Christmas Lights on an Outdoor Tree

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • String lights
  • Extension cords
  • Sturdy ladder
  • Measuring tape or yardstick
  • Sharpie-type pen

Choose the Tree You’ll Hang Lights On

Before measuring out your lights, decide which tree you’ll hang your lights on. In general, trees with more textured bark will hold the lights most easily.

You also want to choose a tree that 1) your extension cords will reach, and that 2) will be visible to passersby. Note which side of the tree faces the road so you can arrange the display such that the less-sightly ends of cords hang on the back of the tree.

Hanging Lights on Trees with Exposed Trunks

Trees like oaks, maples and beeches won’t have leaves left during the winter, so your lights will be more visible. Once you decide on a bulb size (mini, C7 or C8), you’ll need to measure the string lights you want to hang on your outdoor tree. This is a good time to test the lights to make sure all the bulbs work!

Measure the height of the tree with your yardstick or measuring tape. Then measure the circumference of the trunk. Don’t forget a separate set of measurements for any branches you’d like to decorate as well.

The easy rule of thumb is (height / separation) x circumference. For example, if we were hanging lights three inches apart on a four-foot-high trunk with a two-foot circumference, our measurements would be (4’ / 3”) x 2’ = 16 x 2 = 32’ of lighting. Perform the same calculations for each branch you’d like to include.

Note: To complete the calculation, make sure to convert any measurements that are in feet to inches for an all-inches result, and then divide that result by 12 for the number of feet you need in lights. Like so: 48 inches (4' truck height) / 3 inches (separation) = 16 inches x 24 inches (2' tree circumference) = 384 inches, which converts to 32-feet of lighting.

Hanging Lights on Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees will still have greenery during the winter and will require longer light strings with bigger bulbs. Mr. Handyman recommends 6-inch bulb spacing. Consider hanging larger bulbs such as C7s or C8s on evergreen trees.

Hanging Lights on Large Outdoor Trees

Decorating a large outdoor tree will require a little extra planning.

  • Decorate outside branches, as inside branches may not be as visible.
  • Set up more than one ladder in case one falls.
  • Ask a friend or family member to steady the ladder you’re on.

Hanging Lights on Your Outside Tree

Once you’ve chosen your tree and measured out your lights, it’s time to start hanging lights on your outside tree! There’s no need to use damaging nails or staples here – the bark should hold the strands just fine. You can use zip ties for areas that need extra security.


  1. Set up your ladder. Always make sure you can climb down easily.
  2. Mark your tree. Using the yardstick or measuring tape and your Sharpie, make a mark about every three inches up the length of the trunk. You’ll use this as a guide when you’re hanging your lights.
  3. Attach your power source. Run the extension cord from your house to the tree. Wrap the cord around the base of the tree a couple times and tie it in a simple knot so that there’s no risk of unplugging if anything disturbs the cord. Start about one-inch up to keep your wires out of water or snowdrifts.
  4. Start wrapping the light strand. Wrap your lights firmly enough to stay on the tree bark, but not as tightly as possible – if your tree swells after a heavy rain, it will need room to expand without damaging your lights.
  5. Plan spacing for branches. If you would like to wrap multiple branches with the same string of lights, space your wraps twice as far apart going up so that you can wrap in the middle as you descend.
  6. Secure the end of your light strand with a simple knot or twist tie.
  7. Plug your lights in and admire!

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your outside tree lights! You can create beautiful multicolored trees by using several light strands in different colors. To avoid mixing up your colors, color-code the strands by attaching a piece of colored tape.

Christmas Light Hanging Services

All Tangled Up? No need to add to your holiday stress! Mr. Handyman’s holiday light hanging services can do all the work for you. Contact your local Mr. Handyman at (877) 685-1377 or request service online.

Make sure your home is safe and sound this holiday season with an electrical safety inspection from Mr. Electric®. Like Mr. Handyman, Mr. Electric is part of the Neighborly® community of trusted home service providers. You can count on Mr. Electric for all your electrical repairs, installations and upgrades.


  • DIY
  • Holiday & Seasonal
  • Outdoor Living

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.



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!


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!

How to light up a garden | Houzz Russia

The Night Garden is a whole fairy-tale world, completely different from the prose of the day. But only if you give him some light. The lighting in the garden should be inviting, not dazzling: too light ─ and the atmosphere will be lost, too dark ─ and you yourself will get lost. Creating the right lighting is not difficult at all, you just need to arrange / hang the right lamps in the right places. First, think about what you want ─ twinkling lights among the trees or a fabulous lake of light. Each option has its own solution.

DDB Design Development & Building

1. Bottom lighting for trees
Trees can be accentuated by placing directional lights at the base of a trunk or near garden furniture. This type of lighting suits most gardens and almost all styles of landscaping. Even one illuminated tree in a large dark garden will become an expressive accent, and the illumination of a row of trees will help emphasize the correct geometry of the garden in a modern style.

Tip: Trees should be illuminated at the same time - in the front and back of the trunk: this way you create the effect of volume.

As with all electrical work, safety comes first. Choose luminaires that have been specially designed to work in the ground. Then turn to professionals who will properly lay the electrical cable. If you're worried about falling tree branches damaging the wiring or the fixtures themselves, seek the advice of an arborist.

Debra Yates

2. Illumination of a group of trees
By illuminating not individual trees, but the whole group, you will create a cozy atmosphere in the recreation area and get additional territory for summer parties. This option is suitable for soft lighting of a wooden deck, patio or relaxation area near the pool. Highlighting a group of trees also creates a bright spot of light that attracts the eye, that is, it helps to draw attention to a specific part of the garden.

Garden lights, both electric and solar powered, are suitable for illuminating a group of trees. If you choose the electric option, install a multi-way switch so you don't have to make an all-or-nothing choice: sometimes just a couple of lights create the right atmosphere, and sometimes you need a really bright light.

What to highlight? It is best to choose plants and trees with clear outlines. So, illuminated ferns turn into real garden sculptures. The best effect is achieved if each tree in the group is illuminated from a different angle.

Kirsten Johnstone Architecture

3. Contour lighting
A garden path will look more inviting if you run strings of light along its contour. They will also help to mark the boundaries of the garden and landscape design elements. Light cords look best in gardens that have small architectural features such as paths, landings, raised beds, and stairs. All this looks much better with bright backlighting. Light cords are suitable for a garden with an abundance of straight lines - if you have natural green corners where wild plants grow in lush color, you should most likely look for another option for lighting them.

Diode strips are usually inexpensive and use little electricity. There are also solar-powered light cords on the market. It is very important to buy models for permanent street lighting ─ Christmas and holiday garlands, although they look similar, will not last long. Some manufacturers refer to light cords as "line lights".

Decorating your garden with light cords is very easy, especially if you are laying them not in the bush, but around the new flower bed. Just fill the flower bed with mulch or pebbles, plant fast-growing plants in it, lay a light cord along the contour ─ and voila: garden lighting is ready.

TO THE MIL excellence in construction

4. Illuminated stairs
Illuminated stairs perfectly mark the entrance area, and you will never trip over them. In addition to the main function, such lighting will help to focus on the porch decorations and plants planted at the entrance to the house.

There are few practical tips for installing step lighting, because laying the cable is a fairly simple task for an electrician. The only thing you should think about is the aesthetic side of the issue. In places where it is not possible to lay a cable, solar-powered lamps will come to the rescue. But do not forget that they are more cumbersome and, quite frankly, less attractive.

In2 Pty Ltd

To make the composition look harmonious, stair lighting should be chosen at the same time as other elements of the porch design, such as a lamp above the door, fittings, and sometimes even a number plate and a mailbox. If you prefer modern style, then stainless steel recessed light panels are your choice. For lovers of the classics, lamps with copper trim are more suitable.

5. Spot lighting
Everything shines and shimmers in the beams of the spotlights. With their help, it is easiest to arrange a game of reflections, as in this garden. Spotlights are a great way to emphasize architectural details and landscape design elements. But they are really needed in high-risk areas, such as near the pool or a two-level patio. A pair of spotlights will also light up the passages in dark alleys and corridors leading to the garden.

Decide how bright the supplementary lighting should be: if the directional spotlights give off too much light, the surrounding area will immediately appear darker and additional lights will have to be installed in dark corners.

Long rectangular gardens can be brought to life with careful lighting of the plants. Trees or landscape elements illuminated at regular intervals will help to visually break up an overly elongated area. The emphasis on trees with lush crowns at the far end of the garden will make the night composition more voluminous.

Exterior Concepts Pty Ltd

6. Color lighting
The play of light and color on a dark background creates, as the English say, a dramatic effect. If you love theatrical effects and want your garden to match your character, colored lights are the way to go. Forget those garlands of colorful lights that were indispensable decorations at a student party in the 1980s: today, colored lights are something more.

The first question you should ask yourself is, “Do I want the backlight to always be in color, or do I want to turn it on only on special occasions?” In the first case, make sure that your color experiments do not disturb the neighbors. In general, this applies to any light installation, but the color one attracts more attention.

Color lighting can give a modern look to almost any traditional garden. Choose a color that will make a particular element “play out”, for example, the shade of the walls of a house or a tree with a sculptural crown. Expressive accents of bright colors look better on a dark background. In the garden in the photo it is dark gray pebbles, but it could be something else.

DDB Design Development & Building

7. Pool lighting
Lighting up the pool is not an easy task. Your first concern should be the safety of using this type of lighting, so don't even try to do the wiring yourself. Only a professional will do everything right in terms of insulation. Experts with experience will also take care of aesthetics: they know how to arrange the lamps so that the entire pool glows and there are no dark areas.

The light from the pool always affects the atmosphere around it, whether it's a dance floor, sun loungers or al fresco dining. You can accentuate this spot of light by adding another lighting option, or leave it as is for a more intimate setting. Colored pool lighting can be flashy (which isn't always a bad thing), but you should be aware that there are quieter options on the market today. For a holiday, you can enhance the glow of the pool by letting reflective decorations float on its surface.

Mondo Landscapes

8. Backlighting
The play of light can easily become a play with shadows and create mysterious compositions on relief surfaces. In a garden where there are more sculptural forms than plants, back lighting becomes a powerful tool for creating spectacular light installations. Most often, such lighting can be found in modern gardens, the design of which is built on clear lines.

Since back lighting is usually used where there is a wall, its installation is not a problem. However, before you start laying the cable, carefully examine the wall itself and the path near it: any imperfections and scuffs, being highlighted, are very striking. Therefore, you may have to start not with lighting at all, but with repairing the wall.

Cleverly placed backlighting accentuates the sculptural outlines of objects, so choose those objects with care for the best effect. Let it be plants with well-defined leaves and straight stems, miniature trees with curly trimmed crowns, or flowerpots of an unusual shape. The best option for the background is a wall of stone or old brick, and for a more informal look, a plastered surface is also suitable. Correctly directed lamps will highlight both the texture and color of the wall.

9. A spot of light
Light itself can become the protagonist of your evening illumination ─ in this case, it will draw attention to itself and to the composition of the garden or patio. A patch of light is a great way to add visual interest to a prose composition. Whether you want to “break” a wall that is too long, or just waiting for your garden to grow, a spot of light will be a suitable solution in both cases.

Tim Davies Landscaping | Perth

Once you've got all the practicalities sorted out, the first question is "Which comes first, form or function?" If you need light only in a decorative quality, then your taste and budget will be the decisive factor.

A spot of light in itself can make a stunning impression, but at the same time it can illuminate the plants next to it. If you want to decorate a modern garden in this way, think globally ─ large circles create a stunning visual effect. In a classic garden, a cast-iron lamppost can become the center of attention. A lamp on a low metal or concrete base will radically solve the problem of lighting on a long dark stretch of the garden.

Dale Jones-Evans Pty Ltd Architecture

10. Solar Lights
The farther you go from home, the more sensible you are to think of lights powered by the sun. Solar-powered lamps are always an alternative, and often the only option, if access to electricity is limited. While they always cast more diffused light than electric ones, solar-powered lights are indispensable in areas where light is needed, but not in huge quantities.

We advise you to think about the quality and service life of the models on the market. The dependence here is directly proportional: the cheaper the lamp, the less it will last and the sooner you will have to replace it. My advice is don't be stingy: after all, you're lighting for fun, not for cost reasons.

If you are going to illuminate an area that is in the shade most of the day, or if you want to hide the lamps in a flower bed among flowers, get models with removable solar panels. Then you can pre-charge them in a sunnier place, and then attach them back to the lamps.

Utopia Landscape Design

Illumination of trees and parks

In combination with ponds and fountains, greenery is a very important element of the city's architecture, revealed by light after dark. There are several ways to highlight green spaces:

With the help of special garlands (clip-light, play-light, etc.) hidden in the crown of trees; this method allows you to create summer, spring and autumn colors of foliage;

  • - By means of ground-mounted luminaires in waterproof design, hidden in the ground.
  • - With searchlights mounted on the ground or on masts with screens that protect passers-by from glare;
  • - Using colored low power (belt-light) lamps hidden in the foliage.

Illumination of tree crowns should be widely used in parks, exhibition areas, and indoor spaces.

Lighting techniques for parks and gardens are linked to the architectural and planning solution of the territory.

The criterion for assessing the lighting of alleys is vertical and horizontal illumination. The ratio between them should be close to natural, i.e. E in : E g = 1:2 (Table 2)


Parks and gardens

Ratio of maximum illumination to average










1/0. 5











In the numerator - horizontal illumination in lux,

Denominator - vertical illuminance in lux

Tab. 2 recommended average horizontal and vertical illuminances and illumination unevenness in parks and gardens.

Therefore, lighting devices are used for alleys, providing good illumination of both horizontal and vertical surfaces.

Illumination of trees, shrubs, flowers and lawns is a serious task, which should involve not only architects and lighting technicians, but also landscapers.

The experience of decorative lighting of green spaces in parks and gardens shows that when illuminated with incandescent lamps, the green color of the foliage withers, and in the evening they lose their elegant appearance, which is especially noticeable in low light conditions. Special techniques for lighting trees, bushes and flower beds allow you to create a unique and picturesque picture of the evening garden.

Directional localized canopy lighting enhances the view of the garden in the evening, as the foliage becomes brighter and the light sources are shielded from the observer.

Illumination of tree crowns can help to reveal the scale of the surrounding space, visually expand it or limit it. The lighting of the overhanging branches creates the feeling of changing or fixing the height of this space. An important role is played by the size and shape of the crown, the nature and color of the leaves. Particularly effective is the illumination of individual trees against a shaded background of surrounding vegetation. In this case, the light sources are located at the base of the tree.

It is convenient to illuminate with spotlights tree plantations, bordered by dense rows of low shrubs, where you can mask the spotlights. The greenery is also illuminated by spotlights from inside the plantations. They are installed under the trees on special structures and direct their light in accordance with the plan from inside or outside the plantation, mainly upwards and somewhat to the side, in order to illuminate the trees with sliding beams of rays.

Good results are obtained with concealed installation of colored or RGB luminaires. The best light colors are green, which gives greenery a fresh emerald hue, and orange, which gives an intense decorative effect.

Greenery can also be illuminated with hermetically sealed luminaires hidden in the ground and spotlights mounted on masts.

When illuminating green spaces, it is necessary to avoid their uniform uniform illumination throughout the park or square. It is advisable to highlight small objects, achieving contrast.

Decorative landscape lighting can make an evening landscape inviting and cozy. Illumination of trees, shrubs, flowers and lawns in the evening creates a bright colorful picture of the surrounding nature.

Green areas, groups of trees, bushes and artificial plantings make a stronger impression with the right light. Lighting fittings should be installed close to the illuminated objects, and the landscape should not be flooded with the light of powerful spotlights. It is better to illuminate not the entire area and not all the trees in the field of view, but only the individual, brightest and most colorful areas and some trees.

In summer, lighting devices can be installed directly on the flowerbed, green area, by the pool, and to illuminate trees - under hardwoods, directing the light flux to flowers, grass, shrubs and trees. If it is necessary to emphasize the shape of a tree, it is recommended to illuminate it from below. This arrangement of fixtures allows you to reproduce the subtle silhouettes of branches and foliage. When individual trees in the foreground are illuminated by lamps installed at a distance from the object, the illuminated tree easily merges with the background, without being revealed from the environment.

Particular attention should be paid to landscape lighting in winter and autumn. In a winter landscape, deciduous trees can be highlighted by directing a beam of light from the background onto a group of trees so that it is a kind of background against which bare branches stand out as dark silhouettes. For example, birches without leaves can be illuminated in such a way that an upward beam of light illuminates a white trunk. Pine trees can be illuminated with double illumination: the trunk with a yellowish light, and the needles with a greenish light. Such lighting clearly highlights the silhouette of a pine tree against the backdrop of the landscape.

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