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Christmas Lights: Protect Your Trees

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Tree Services in Toronto » Plant Healthcare » Christmas Lights: Protect Your Trees

Christmas Lights: Protect Your Trees

There’s nothing more festive than Christmas tree lights and holiday decorating on your trees, especially on evergreens like pines or spruces. However, well-meaning decorators can put their trees — or themselves — at risk when they don’t take proper precautions.

Here’s how to make sure your holiday decorating is full of Christmas cheer for both you and your trees!

Attaching Christmas Tree Lights

Careless attachment of decorations is one of the biggest risks to trees. Items like zip ties can cut into bark and damage it. If they’re not removed when decorations are, they can affect tree growth.

Using nails, screws or other metal attachers is not a good plan. Metal fasteners damage the bark of trees and are unlikely to be removed when decorations are. The damage from holes, and/or from rusting nails or screws, can leave the tree vulerable to infection from pests, disease and fungi.

Embedding metal in the trunk can also cause risks for tree work later on. Pruning and branch or tree removal with metal pieces embedded in the branches can cause damage to equipment or harm to the person doing the work if they’re not aware or wood has grown around the nails.

Tree Growth and Your Christmas Decorations

Most decorators get their Christmas lights and other decorations down in January, or at least by the time the weather warms up. But some die-hards leave them up year round, figuring they’ll skip the hassle of removing decorations and redecorating next holiday season.

This is a mistake — tightly wound cords, strings and other connectors and attachments can restrict your tree’s growth. Plastic zip ties can especially restrict growth. It’s best to remove decorations once the holidays are over so your tree can resume normal growth.

Tree Bark Damage

Drilling or hammering attachments and fasteners into your trees can cause obvious bark damage. Careless installation can also be a risk, however.

Cords and wires that scrape against trunks can damage the bark. Hands, boots and ladders can also scrape or break bark if you’re not careful. Trunk damage leaves a tree more vulnerable to pests and disease once the weather warms up next spring.

Ladder Safety

Ladders can be a major risk for falls and result in many injuries to homeowners each year. In the winter, snowy or wet conditions can make you more liable to slip. Wearing bulky boots or placing a ladder on unstable damp ground can also be a hazard for slips or falls.

Always use ladders on stable and dry surfaces and make sure you have a spotter to assist. If the weather has been icy, never risk using a ladder to install your holiday decorations! One of the best gifts you can offer your family is being home for Christmas, not in the ER.

Electrical Safety

When plugging in lights and other electrical decorations, make sure you’re following electrical safety precautions. Only use lights and cords that are rated for outdoor use. If you’re short of outdoor lights, resist the temptation to substitute an indoor set — this is an electrical and fire hazard.

Keep in mind that furry friends like squirrels and raccoons, or your own pets, may also be drawn to your decorations — as chew toys. Make sure you inspect lights and other decorations for damage before installing, and throughout the season, especially if you’re noticing electrical problems like flickering lights. Damaged cords need to be safely discarded and replaced.

DIY Holiday Pruning

Finally, branch removal can cause damage to your trees over the holiday season. Some decorators will remove branches while installing Christmas lights or other decorations in order to hang an item in a particular spot. This can damage your tree if a branch is removed improperly or unnecessarily. Work with the shape of the tree you have!

Other enthusiasts may remove branches from the tree itself for indoor or outdoor decorating. Again, this isn’t the best idea for your tree’s health. Removing too many branches can affect your tree’s ability to recover and regrow branches. You may remove critical branches or cut at a location that makes it difficult to heal.

If you want to decorate with evergreen or deciduous branches or bark, it’s best to buy from a tree lot or garden centre where trees are grown for this purpose.

However, if you’ve happened to have some tree pruning done close to the holiday season, go ahead and save the branches for decorating — keep them outdoors or in a cool environment for longevity.

Happy Trees, Happy Holidays

Once you’ve considered your trees’ health and your own safety in your decorating plan, it’s time to go wild! Whether you favour classic white tree lights, a multicolour rainbow, or a garden of inflatable Santas, holiday decorating that keeps your trees safe is easy once you take a few precautions.

Need help repairing your tree health after mistakes with last year’s decorating? Give us a call at Vista Tree

author avatar
Michael Co-Founder
Michael is a Certified Arborist and founder of the company. He holds a Certificate in Urban Arboriculture (Honours) from Humber College, Certificate in Project Leadership from Cornell, has post-graduate studies in Urban Forestry and Arboriculture from Oregon State College of Foresty and holds a BAH in Ancient History with a minor in Business. In addition to being an ISA Certified Arborist, he is a TCIA Certified Tree Safety Professional, Tree Appraisal Qualified by Arboriculture Canada and holds a Landscape Exterminator license. Michael sat on the Board of Director for the Ontario Commercial Arborist Association in 2022 and 2023. He worked at some of the top arboriculture companies in Southern Ontario before starting Vista Tree Management. Before that, he was an award-winning Executive Director in the nonprofit sector and published marketing consultant. On the rare days off, Michael can be found at home with his family - a loving wife, two daughters and two cats in Central Toronto.
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Vista Tree Management provided an excellent service of removing a large tree from a backyard of my property in Toronto. The whole process of quoting, and doing the job was very efficient, clearly explained and provided as promised. Their price for the serviced was very competitive.
My parents used their service to cut a tree down in their backyard. This tree was in such an awkward position where it was interfering with 2 other neighbors. James ensured me that the service would be done in a very professional manner and no damage would be done. Im glad to say he was right and had a group of 6 hard working individuals made the job done safely and efficiently. I would highly recommend this company for anyone needing tree removal.
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Vista is an excellent company to deal with. The owners went above and beyond expectations to help deal with a unique situation. The guys who did the work were not only professional but also very polite. I will be using them again to help with other work in the future.
We are very happy with all the work Vista Tree Management accomplished on our property.  James was very professional and gave us excellent advice concerning the trimming of our 12 foot cedar hedges and the pruning of our mature silver maple trees.  The crew was very friendly and hard working, they did a tremendous job on the work required and they did an excellent job with the clean up.  We would highly recommend Vista Tree services to our family and friends.  We will definitely use them again for all of our future projects.
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They just did my front lawn, and boy, did they leave a lasting impression!

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I can’t say enough positive comment about James and Vista Tree. We were “ghosted” by 2 other tree management companies last fall. James came by and provided separate quotes for two very large trees on our property, both of which were a challenge to severely prune. They were a hazard and had to be addressed. The quotes were delivered the next day after assessment. The team was here on two separate days (April 30 and May 7). They were efficient, professional and most importantly safe. Hollis, the arborist who climbed the trees was friendly and communicated everything he was doing to the trees as well as any changes he made once he was up in the tree. The other members of the crew (Syd and Pete, I can’t remember the others) were professional and friendly. They cleaned everything up and were open to any suggestions we had regarding disposal of the wood. I would highly recommend this company. We will be having them back again to do more work, in the fall.
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Highly recommend! Michal came by first to take a look at things and provide the estimate. He’s obviously passionate about what he does and I learned a ton about my tree that I had no idea about! He gave me the confidence I needed to schedule the work. James and the “J-Crew” arrived on the scheduled day and were super friendly. The team did an amazing job with trimming my large overgrown maple and a fantastic cleanup job. My yard looked better than before they arrived. Will definitely have them back for future maintenance! Thanks Vista!
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What impressed me the most was throughout their only concern was safety for my family and our property. With that and that only in mind they made all the cuts and changes that were required. When they left, I felt the most relief I felt about the trees in our backyard in a long time.

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After doing a fair bit of research into Toronto-based arborists, we decided to go with Vista, and are very happy we did! From my first meeting with Mike when he came to give us a free quote, I was impressed with his knowledge and professionalism. Mike and his crew were punctual on the day they came to prune the deadwood from our very large Red Oak tree, answered my questions, and worked for 7 hours straight to get the job done. We were impressed from beginning to end, and wouldn’t hesitate to hire them again!
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