Decorate but Don’t Damage Your Trees, Please

The winter holidays are like New York Fashion Week for trees! Trees get blinged out, lit up, and garland draped in fabulous outfits that sparkle and dazzle! We think trees are natural beauties, but we also love to see trees all dressed up and fancy for the holidays! 

As you decorate your trees, remember that trees are a living organism and can be damaged if we overlook some basic care.

Here are some helpful tips to consider when you dress your trees to impress this holiday season.



  • Use temporary ties instead of nails. Nails, screws, or other items that pierce the bark of trees create opportunities for insects or disease to enter the tree. The small holes created by nails can be problematic for trees that are already stressed. Minimize the risk for injury to your trees by using straps, zip ties, and other items that don’t create holes.
  • Keep straps and wires loose. Removing decorations immediately after the holiday season is recommended so that you eliminate the chance of straps or wires restricting growth of limbs or trunks. When strings of lighting are left too long on limbs, they end up digging into the bough or trunk as it grows creating injury to the tree. If you choose to leave strings of lights on longer, arrange them loosely and periodically rehang them so that they are always loose and not choking the tree. (This also applies to straps on new trees. Braces and stakes should not be left on new trees for more than one or two growing seasons.)
  • Check wires and plugs regularly. Whether the tree is decorated indoors or outdoors, any electrified decorations could be a source of fire hazards if they are not well maintained. Please take care and inspect all decorations for potential hazards. 
  • Prune in winter. While you’re gazing lovingly at your trees, you may notice that some limbs may need pruning. Definitely avoid hanging decorations on dead or hazardous limbs.

While we are address adding decorations this holiday, let’s take a moment to remember the other kind of “trimming”, too. 

Winter is a fine time to see the branching form of trees while leaves are off the trees. Pruning during winter is considered optimal since deciduous trees are dormant and pruning is less disruptive to growing trees. Bacteria, fungi, and insects are also less active, thus pruning during winter may decrease chances of injury to trees when creating new cuts. Some trees, like fruit trees, may require only winter pruning to maximize fruit production in spring and summer.

To learn how to properly prune your trees, take a look at our online Pruning Basics resource. We are also offering a fruit tree pruning workshop in collaboration with Concrete Jungle on January 8, 2022 at the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill; please register through our Calendar.

We can’t wait to see your celebri-trees decorated with care!


Posted: December 7, 2021

Image credits (L-R):