Like wrapping your bushes and trees in a big, bright hug; net lights are the quick and simple solution to your outdoor landscape lighting needs!
By Christmas Lights, Etc. | DIY Team
In this guide you'll discover the basics of net lights, installation advice for your project and alternative options for wrapping trees and bushes with lights. Scroll through to learn about the different types of net lights and how to use them, or click on the specific topic you're hoping to learn more about to be taken to the section you need!
Net Lights Basics
If you need to wrap bushes, trees or columns, net lights have you covered! Simple in design, net lights are string lights that have been connected to form a grid, which can easily cover the exterior of bushes or tree trunks in a fast, hassle free installation process. Before the smart folks at the North Pole invented net lights, the only method for achieving this type of lighting on bushes, shrubs and trees was by wrapping multiple light strings around them. This method can be time consuming and involves tedious work to ensure even light distribution. Thus, net lights were born!
Tips for Wrapping Bushes with Net Lights
The beauty of net lights is the hassle free installation process. You can create uniform light patterns quickly, or make your lighting look random with just a few adjustments. Follow the advice below based on your type of bushes and desired effect to ensure your net lights installation process is a cinch!
General Net Light Installation
Net lights have end-to-end connectors, plug them into one another as you go to avoid searching for the ends later and having to use multiple extension cords! Depending on the type, you can usually connect between 14 to 21 LED net lights together on one outlet, whereas the max number of incandescent net light sets that can be connected is usually 3. If you will be plugging multiple sets into each other it is best to check the specifications on the net lights you are interested in and plan accordingly. After your net light installation is complete, plug your lights into an outlet and step back to verify that the light pattern is as you want it. Make adjustments as necessary.
Wrapping Square Bushes
Hedgerows and other square or rectangular shaped bushes often have multiple angles and straight lines that are atypical of a normal bush. When these bushes flank walkways or flower beds they are usually visible from multiple sides, which is important to note. Depending on the bush size, net lights are ideal because of how well they drape. By placing the net light over the top and then letting the net light sides naturally fall over the front and back side of the bush it creates quick uniform light coverage from multiple angles.
Rectangular bush shapes are also common abutting walls or stairs, which often means only the front side and top side of the hedgerow are visible. Net lights are also ideal for this application because they only need to drape the top and front. Most net lights can be connected end to end and with LED net lights you can often connect numerous net lights together, which means you can outfit a large hedgerow utilizing only one plug outlet. This provides a very clean light pattern and is one of the easiest ways to accentuate your foliage shapes whether it be for Christmas, weddings or to create a festive outdoor space any time.
Cone Shaped Bushes
Bushes manicured to taper at the top often take on a conical appearance, which makes them naturally look like an ornamental shape. Net light sets can be connected end to end and wrapped either vertically or horizontally on these types of shapes, however, we recommend you hang them like curtain panels vertically around the bush to avoid a heavy concentration of lights at the top. This approach also looks great if you have several conical shaped bushes in a row.
Alternatively you can buy what are commonly referred to as trunk wrap or ribbon wrap lights which are net lights designed to be very narrow. These ribbon nets can be placed like a swirl of lights around your bushes from the base to the tip, which adds a great decorative flare.
Creating Bush Lights with a Pattern
The structured grid pattern design of net lights is very convenient for decorators who desire clean, uniform lighting. If your goal is the same, a few preparatory steps taken before you begin wrapping your bushes will guarantee a flawless finish. Start by laying the net lights side by side on the ground in front of your bushes in the direction that you plan to place them.
To create a uniform grid you will want to check that all of the vertical and horizontal strings are lined up across each net light. Take care to keep each net light facing the same direction as the one before it when wrapping your bushes and avoid overlap as much as possible to prevent a heavy concentration of lights in some areas.
To Create Random Light Patterns
It's easy to think that the design of net lights won't allow for creating anything but a grid pattern across your bushes, however it is actually quite easy to achieve light patterns that appear random. There are several methods you can use. Overlap multiple net lights across your bushes in different directions and lay a few strands of string lights over top of the nets as well.
The addition of string lights also presents a fun opportunity to customize your bush lighting. Instead of matching the string lights color to that of your net lights, try using an accent color to match your other outdoor Christmas decorations or incorporate twinkling string lights to create the effect of fireflies dancing in your bushes at night. You can also try pushing the nets further into your bushes instead of laying them over top. The greenery above the net will diffuse the light slightly, creating an inviting glow from within the bush, which also produces the illusion of random light disbursement.
Themed Net Light Colors
If your bushes or hedges extend across a larg part of your yard and will require multiple net lights, you can create custom themes by alternating light colors on every other bush or every two bushes. Popular color combinations include red and white for candy cane themes, blue and white for winter wonderland designs featuring snowflake motifs and red and green to complement classic Christmas lights. In addition to uses during Christmas, net lights are also a great option for enhancing a spooky haunted house on Halloween. Alternate green and orange net lights to delight trick or treaters as they approach.
If you like the idea of creating color combinations, but would prefer dual colors to cover all of your bushes instead of alternating solid colors, scroll down for our section on themed net lights, which feature multiple bulb color combinations on one grid!
Net Lights for Light Wrapped Trees
Outdoor christmas decorating with net lights doesn't have to stop at your bushes and shrubs. Trunk wraps and columns wraps can be used in varying dimensions to help create a cohesive design flow that extends from the bushes in front of your home up to your porch columns and outward to the trees dotting your yard. Refer to the quick references below on which net light or wrap is best for creating trunk lights based on the size of your tree.
Trunk Wraps for Small to Medium Trees
Typical trunk light wraps measure 2' x 6' and 2' x 8' and are just the right size for wrapping small to medium trees that are 2' wide and under. These trunk wraps are good if you're wrapping just one or two trees, but they will stretch out over time and may lose their shape over a few seasons.
If you're looking to wrap multiple trees which are all of varying sizes and you want a more durable option than traditional trunk wraps, you may be interested in new StretchNet Pro™ tree wraps. A special stretchable cord is woven into these nets, making them expandable from 20 inches x 45 inches up to 45 inches x 45 inches. That's wide enough to wrap a tree over 14 inches in diameter. Simple loop clasps attach the ends of the net around the tree, making installation incredibly simple.
Wrapping Larger Tree Trunks with Net Lights
If your tree trunks measure larger than 2' wide, net lights typically measure 4' x 6' and can be used for wrapping larger trees. Depending on how tall your tree trunks are, you may want to wrap your larger trees with string lights instead. Visit our guide on how to wrap trees with string lights to find out more about this method.
If you want your light wrapped trees to be even brighter or seen from from a distance, net lights can be wrapped multiple times around smaller tree trunks as well. Densely wrapping tree trunks is a common technique used by professional decorators with either string lights or multiple net lights.
Column wraps typically measure either 6" x 12' or 6" x 15' and can be used to quickly and uniformly light both round and square columns. Due to their long and narrow design, column wraps are also referred to as ribbon wraps. Want to try something new? Column wraps can be swirled around conical and round bushes in the same way you might wrap a ribbon around a Christmas tree, creating a fresh lighting design you don't see every day!
String Lights, The Original Net Light
Before net lights, string lights were used to wrap bushes, shrubs and trees. Today many people still use this method, especially when a custom light scheme or design is desired. If you choose to use string lights instead of net lights for wrapping bushes, your knee jerk reaction might be to wrap around the outside of your bush, which is most common. However, what many people don't consider is the method of lighting bushes and shrubs from the inside to create a pleasing glow without having to worry about the pattern and uniformity on the outside.
To create a glow from within your bushes and shrubs, simply tuck string lights inside the greenery instead of laying them on the outside. Once the lights and wires are hidden inside your bushes, turn your lights on and make adjustments as necessary if you notice any dark spots.
String Light Wrapped Trees
Wrapping trees with string lights is very popular, especially for creating custom color schemes at Christmas time as well as event lighting, and even to make a spooky electric forest on Halloween. You can find string lights in almost any color you could want, so the design possibilities are really limitless. If you aren't sure where to start when wrapping trees with lights, take a look at our step by step tree wrapping guide!