How to install flood lights in a tree

Written by patricia h. reed
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How to install flood lights in a tree
Make your own moonlight with a tree-mounted flood light. (clair de lune image by reynald michel from Fotolia.com)

You can simulate the light of a full moon shining through your trees with a tree-mounted flood light. According to "The Family Handyman" magazine, artfully placed landscape lighting is a "high-impact" project that can transform your yard into usable night-time space. Installing a flood light in a tree, whether on its own or as part of a larger lighting scheme, is a simple project for a couple of do-it-yourself-ers.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Ladder
  • Pruning tools
  • Handsaw
  • Electric drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Low-voltage light
  • 4 x 5-inch piece of cedar, 1 inch thick
  • 12-gauge electrical wire
  • Weather-proof connectors
  • 3-inch galvanised or stainless steel screws
  • Wire clips with stainless steel nails

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Climb your ladder and trim the branches away from a spot at least 15 feet up your tree with bypass pruners or a pruning saw. There should be at least 24 inches of clear space all the way around the point on the tree trunk where you will install the light.

  2. 2

    Cut a 4 x 5-inch piece of cedar with a handsaw to serve as a base for your light.

  3. 3

    Measure the distance between your power source and the base of the tree. Add the distance from the base of the tree to the point on the tree where the light will be installed. This is how much electrical wire you will need. Allow a few extra feet for slack.

  4. 4

    Screw the base plate of the low-voltage flood light to the centre of the piece of cedar. Attach your 12-gauge wire to the flood light. Secure the wires with weatherproof connectors and insert the connectors into the hollow base of the fixture. Screw to the base plate.

  5. 5

    Drill pilot holes for your 3-inch galvanised screws in the cedar mounting block, above and below the flood light.

  6. 6

    Climb the ladder with your flood light and attached wiring, screws and screwdriver, and screw the base plate into the tree at the prepared space. According to master arborist Russ Carlson of Tree-Tech Consulting in Annapolis, Maryland, a nail or screw will not damage a healthy tree as trees compartmentalise their wounds and grow new tissue around them. Carlson does recommend using screws rather than nails as they are more easily removed.

  7. 7

    Make sure your electrical source is unplugged or power has been turned off. Attach the other end of your 12-gauge wire to the wire of your electrical source with weatherproof connectors. Plug in your electrical source and check that the flood light works.

  8. 8

    Go back up the ladder with a hammer, wire clip and stainless steel nails. Attach cord every three feet down the trunk of the tree by nailing a wire clip over the cord to hold it in place. Move the wire around the trunk if necessary to make it less visible from the ground.

  9. 9

    Cut a six-inch deep slot across the lawn from the base of the tree to the power source with a flathead shovel. Fold back the sod and lay the wire. Put the sod back in place and step on to press flat.

Tips and warnings

  • If burying wire, call your utility company before beginning the project to mark any underground utilities.
  • Test the light at night before burying your wire in case you need to make adjustments.
  • Though the higher the light is placed, the more natural the moonlight effect, according to "Family Handyman," don't go any higher than you can safely reach with your ladder.
  • Always use caution when working with electricity.

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