November 21, 2017

Outdoor lighting is a big part of decorating your home for the holidays. Many people think that because the outdoor Christmas lights you use to decorate your home are temporary, you don’t have to think about safety.

However, there are precautions to take to prevent accidents and to make sure your lights are plant safe.

Safety and Outdoor Lights

Landscaping is a big investment for homeowners. You want to care for your trees, shrubs, and plants to keep them healthy and thriving. Outdoor holiday lights should be installed properly to ensure they don’t cause damage to your plants. Important safety tips to consider:

  • Lights should be rate for outdoor use
  • Use insulated holders and hooks to secure lights
  • Never drive staples, tacks, or nails through insulated wiring
  • Always use a GFCI to plug lights into

A ground-fault circuit interrupter or GCI should be used to plug in outdoor lights. Portable units are available for temporary use, or you can have one permanently installed by an electrician.

Inspect the Lights Before Use

You should only use holiday lights that are rated for outdoor use because they’re designed to stand up to changeable weather conditions, mainly snow and rain. Labels on strands of Christmas lights indicate if they’re designed for outdoor use. Inspect all the light strands for fraying or breaks in the wiring which could cause a fire. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions about how many sets of lights can be strung together. If too many sets of lights are strung together, it could cause a power overload.

Wrap the Lights Properly

Always use care when wrapping outdoor Christmas lights around branches and trunks of your trees to make them plant safe. Shrubs, trees, and outdoor plants used to landscape your yard are alive and growing even during the winter months. If you wrap the lights too tightly, it could cause damage to your plants and trees. Lights that are wrapped too tightly can damage the system within the plants that move nutrients through them and interrupt their growth. If the lights are loosely wrapped, they can cause the bark to rub off trees and plants, causing damage.

How Long To Leave Lights Up

Most trees, shrubs, and plants should have outdoor holiday lights removed three to four months after they’re decorated to prevent damage to the plants. However, if you have evergreen trees on your property, you can leave outdoor lights on them all year-round if you choose to. Lights on evergreen trees should be wrapped a bit more loosely than on other trees. The lights should be hung evenly on the branches, so they don’t interfere with the growth of the trees. If the lights are left up year-round, they should be inspected periodically for any breaks in the wiring.

Proper installation of outdoor holiday lights is essential. Always make sure to use lights designated for outdoor use, and there’s no damage to any of the wiring. To extend the life of outdoor Christmas lights, bring them indoors for storage after the holidays. If you’re installing outdoor lights on tall trees, always have someone to help you to prevent accidents, or have a professional landscaping service put up your lights for the holidays.