Safe Hanging of Holiday Lights

(Photo by Gardens on Spring Creek)

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Jenna Poncelet | Gardens on Spring Creek


It’s finally time to say goodbye to fall and welcome winter here on the Front Range. As the days get colder and shorter, we’re all looking for ways to add a little light back into our lives. ‘Tis the season for decorating for the holidays with bright lights and yard ornaments. While it may be tempting to outdo your neighbors, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping yourself safe and your landscape healthy.

Choosing the Right Plants to Decorate:

  • Woody shrubs and trees are going to hold up to light strands and decorations best.
  • Herbaceous perennials that don’t have the structure of solid woody branches may be damaged by decorations and ornaments.
  • Choose trees and shrubs that have fully matured to avoid irreparable damage to young growing plants.
  • Try to stay away from plants with dead or dying wood as well, to avoid breakage. 

Decoration Placement:

  • Place light strands and ornaments on the sturdiest parts of branches to ensure you’re not putting stress on or pulling the plant.
  • Only put things where you can easily take them down again after the holidays. Yanking light strands down when they’re just out of reach could cause damage.
  • Net lights may be an easier option for round shrubs and evergreens. This is especially true of shrubs with spines/thorns, as they’re less hands-on than strands to apply. 
  • Special hooks and clips designed for tree ornaments are readily available at big box stores to make hanging lights and decorations much easier.
  • Large yard ornaments such as inflatables should be staked or weighted so that they remain in place in the wind.

The most important thing to remember: Take your lights and ornaments down at the end of the season! Leaving lights wrapped or hooked to shrubs and trees year-round will interfere with the overall health of your landscape. Tight decorations will eventually strangle and harm nutrient flow around the plant. This is especially true of anything affixed with metal or wire. 

Other Health and Safety Factors:

  • Nearly 800 incidents of fires caused by holiday decorations occur in the United States every year. To avoid fire, be sure to use only electrical elements that are specifically designed for outdoor use and in inclement weather. 
  • Only plug electrical elements into outdoor outlets equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). 
  • Make sure all electrical connections are snug and properly fitted together and check all cords and cables for damage before use. 
  • Use proper ladders and equipment to reach high places or consider buying a polearm to reach farther than by hand. 

These tips, coupled with caution, should make for a safe and festive holiday season for both you and your plants.