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Observations on Time & Money Required to Wrap a Small Tree in Lights.

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I decided to wrap a 25' Elm tree (Ulmus USDA) in lights for this Christmas.  I had somewhere around zero guidance and zero experience so I decided to write this up for the next guy.  I have seen the occasional tree done up this way and liked it.  On youtube I found Jerry's Tree  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG_iODz6e7E) which is magnificent.

I went to www.holidayleds.com/ and bought a case of  warm white 5 mm LEDS with brown wire, so as to blend in better with the bark.  I chose warm white as being more cheerful looking.  Cool white would be more wintery and architectural.  Each string has 70 LEDs with a 4" spacing, 70 LEDs per string, 23' lighted length.  I used the palm of my hand as a nominal 4" measure as I wrrapped, so the space from each bulb to its neighbors is the same left and right or up and down.  A case of 24 strings gave me a total of 552' lighted length to work with.  The strings came tightly twisted around themselves to make them as small as possible for shipping.  It took me around 5~10 minutes per string to prep them.  Prepping included:

* Plug in to test. (they all worked)

*Standing on a chair and dangling one end so it could twirl freely while I untwisted it.
*Taping black electrical tape over the white labels.
*Squirting dielectric grease into the female sockets.
*Taping over the lower female socket with electrical tape as additional protection for the socket I thought might not be used.
*Rolling them into a ball with the female end in the middle.
*Tying them up with a wire and boxing them.

I did not pull out the fuses (every string has a 3 watt fuse inside the male plug) and grease them, because they are so small that I hate handling them.

One reason I chose this tree was that it was small enough to wrap without a cherry picker.  I had a 6' stepladder, a 20' extension ladder, no helper.  A helper would have made things go faster, a cherry picker, really faster.  I found that I had to stop around 10' from the end of any given branch because they got too shaky to climb or lean a ladder against.  Work got a little harder as I went along because every time I wrapped another branch I had to stop climbing on it.  I picked October to put the lights up because I didn't want to be up there pushing snow out of the branches while I worked.  I won't put them on until after Thanksgiving, because that would be tacky.  I worked on two consecutive days and it ran around 7 hours up in the tree, which comes to less than a hundred feet of lights per hour.  That they were cold days did not help.  I wanted to wear gloves but had to keep taking them off to get the wires wrapped neatly.


$ 310 lights
$ 12 extension cord
$ 25 deer netting to wrap around everything within 8' of the ground, to discourage vandals.

$ 347 total.

The results:

Looking up into tree, day.



Looking up at tree, night.DSCN0081.thumb.jpg.c35f7963c72c0f6f3523e528cbef76e1.jpg

Tree from a distance, day.

Tree from a distance, night.DSCN0082.thumb.jpg.d729f9999cdcfae9c90229fd5a3e5bf1.jpg


In conclusion, it does look good, but the tree could probably hold two cases (1,100') of lights and look even better.

Edited by sparkleball
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Congrats for doing it your first time and it looks fantastic by the way! I applaud your efforts on the entire process.  I too love that tree !

Are you planning on leaving the lights up all year?


I just caught this in the video. I sure hope that's a waterproof extension box!!



Edited by diamondkilo

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On 11/10/2018 at 4:18 PM, diamondkilo said:

Are you planning on leaving the lights up all year?


No, the tree is actively growing and I'm only going to have it lit for one month.  I think they would age a lot sitting out in the weather for eleven months waiting for next December.



On 11/11/2018 at 12:45 PM, Fodstar said:

 you are correct:  trees can be real light hogs.

Next year: another $300 worth of lights...(MUAHAHA!)


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Great job and you're smart for taking them down after one month.  It's always a hit and miss on leaving them up for a year, especially if you get a lot of rain during the next year.  I will say way back when I was using Incandescent  and I could get them dirt cheap after Christmas, I did leave them up in my big Sycamore.  They lasted for four years that way!

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Looks good. My new house has wrap worthy trees. I'll be interested to see how they light up Thursday. Haven't tested at night yet.

Sent from my SM-S903VL using Tapatalk

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