What's broken? What's out of date? What can we put up for more WOW-factor this year? Can I cut the energy cost and still have high impact?
Here are some ideas for a fresh and cost effective look for your holiday lights in 2010.
Multicolor is out
Multi-color displays have been on the downturn for awhile. For 2010, the lighting designers are featuring simple color schemes with white and one other color, or no more than white and two colors.
To gain maximum effect with these uncomplicated color schemes use strands of bulbs in varying sizes. Read on for examples.
Don't pitch the icicle lights
Even though icicles have been around for awhile, they're not passé. They are, however, being used in new combinations that up the impact. String icicle lights as they are traditionally hung to cascade off the gutter line of the roof. This year, add a string of larger white lights with bulbs about 1 ½ inches long (C-7s is the technical term) along the gutter line. The size variation in the lights creates two kinds of light and the appearance of twinkling lights. Small variation, big impact.
New style for trees
Trees also take on a better look when combining mini-lights with the larger bulbs. The larger bulbs give bigger, brighter light. The smaller bulbs add softness to the overall display. Create a new look in your yard by wrapping the trunk of the tree with white mini-lights and making a canopy of one bright color, such as red, in larger bulbs on the limbs.
How to string lights on trees:
- Wrap lights around evergreen trees. If there is more than one evergreen in your yard, wrap lights in the same direction and keep spacing between rows consistent from tree to tree. This technique makes for a uniform appearance.
- For deciduous trees, avoid wrapping light strands in a circular pattern in the branches. Instead, play off the tree's natural structure for a more dramatic look by running the lights along the length of the limbs.
Lights don't have to be limited to trees and roof lines. Use other structural elements like pillars, fences and gazebos that can easily be illuminated to add to your display. Also think of lighting whimsical items like old skis, a wheel barrow or the little red wagon for a welcoming focal point close to the front door.
This year, replace worn out lights with LEDs. They are just as user-friendly as they are environmentally friendly. Have you heard that you can connect 120 strands of LEDs end to end and plug the whole line into one extension cord that goes into a single power outlet? That's the ultimate no-jolt job.
LEDs also use about 80% less power than conventional holiday lights and they last four to five times longer. You will pay more up-front, but that cost is soon recovered in energy cost savings and fewer replacements. Using less total material over a longer lifetime is a major sustainable advantage.
Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC