There’s nothing quite like a beautifully bright yard during the holiday season. And Christmas lights on bushes, hedges, and trees are what make a yard really shine. The joy in looking upon a glimmering yard that both you and your neighbors enjoy is a real treat.

So how best to brighten up your yard and outdoor plants? There are a couple main methods—Christmas net lighting and hand lighting. We’re putting them head-to-head so you can decide the right style for you. And be sure to read through to the end for our expert take.

Pros and Cons of Christmas Net Lighting

net lighting on bushes and shrubsQuick and Easy to Remove and Install

Straightforward by design, installation and removal are a breeze with Christmas net lighting. Placing them is simple: start with one corner of the net at the bottom edge, and then wrap the other corner around. Do the same with the top, and that’s it. Removal is similar, just in reverse.

Ideal for Evenly Proportioned Bushes, Hedges, or Tree Trunks

Do you have well-shaped rectangular hedges? Or trees that have relatively circular trunks? Net lights are suitable for plants that are evenly proportioned. And the way that net lights are made brings us to our next point…

Nice and Uniform

Christmas net lights are uniform by design. They can be spread and wrapped evenly with an equal distribution of lighting across whatever you’re decorating. However, this uniform design can be limiting if you’d like a more creative look to your displays.

Christmas net lights on hedgeGreat for Beginners

If you’re a beginner who isn’t sure of how many strings of lights you need to buy, or you simply don’t want to take the time to calculate, then Christmas net lights are a favorable option. But if you’re willing to figure your numbers or already have a clear idea of what you need, hand lighting is really the way to go. And we help make the rest easy with our tutorial on lighting your bushes, shrubs and hedges by hand.

Gives the Edges of Your Plants Definition

Christmas net lights create edges around the perimeters of your bushes or foliage, which can be quite attractive on geometric or square hedges. Creating enough of these edges will give a consistent impression of your arrangement and the shape of your yard.

Speedier Solution for Tree Wraps than Strings

Net lights are definitely a faster alternative to wrapping trees with strings. As mentioned in our earlier point, the process of placing net lights is simple. Lighting by hand is an admittedly slower process that requires care, but that care shows through in a great display.

Christmas Net Lighting: Breakdown

The even bulb distribution in Christmas net lights makes for an easy method of lighting your bushes, hedges or trees. However, you’re limited by the size of the net. Larger or uniquely shaped outdoor plants may not be fully covered by net lights. If you go the route of Christmas net lights, you’ll have to get creative with the way you wrap across your canvas sometimes.

Pros and Cons of Hand Lighting: Using Christmas Light Strings or other Types

hand lighting bushes and shrubs by handScattered and Random Effects

String lights allow you to use random arrangements to your advantage. Create eye-catching effects such as falling star patterns, all by lining up the lights in a random orientation. Hand lighting is the only way to make creative effects like these, unlike net lighting.

Colors Can Be Dispersed Creatively

The uniform design of net lighting puts colors in predictable patterns. Hand lighting instead gives you lots of room to spice up your color arrangement however you like. Whether you coordinate your lights with a glittering motif or a bright technicolor palette—it’s all up to you!

Better for Twinkling Lights

Purposefully uneven placement when hand lighting helps to accentuate designs that use twinkling lights. You’ll want your twinkling lights spread out randomly to get the most out of the interesting effects to be enjoyed.

Looks More Artistic and Professional

Hand lighting always has a more artistic and professional appearance, which is why we prefer it over net lights for bushes, hedges and shrubs. You can see why hand lighting look more professional than nets in our Hedge Lighting YouTube video. The choice in how you place the strings provides a lot of flexibility. And that flexibility is key to producing artistic displays out of your bushes, hedges, and trees.

Preferred by Professionals for Custom Design Elements

Hand lighting is the preferred method by professionals because it creates high-end results. Most bushes and other outdoor plants are not cut into perfect rectangles, so net lighting has to be managed within the confines of the size and shape of the net lights. When you hand light with strings, you can cover specific areas with more precision.

hand lighting on bushes and treesStrings are Much Easier to Put Away and Store

Ease of storage is an important consideration in Christmas lights. After all, packing and unpacking lights is a necessary part of decorating. Put away your lights in various ways: wrap your string lights around a Christmas wrapping paper tube, tie them around a clothes hanger, etc. Check out our YouTube video on some of the best ways to pack and store your lights. String lights are able to be packed away in tighter spaces than net lights as well.

Hand Lighting: Breakdown

Hand lighting offers more control over how you cover your surfaces. Hand placed lights have a different light distribution, lending to naturally scattered appearances that tend be far more appealing than the look of Christmas net lights. Hand lighting is also better for custom styles and foliage shapes that aren’t even.

Tips on How to Decide and Purchase

First, take measurements of your application area. Make note of length and width while keeping in mind that net lights are sold in 4 foot by 6 foot rectangles. Any plants bigger or smaller than that will be better decorated by hand.

If you want more options, then hand lighting is best for you. String lights allow for more choice in bulb spacing and bulb counts. Conversely, the uniform nature of Christmas net lights don’t leave room for any variation.

Speaking of uniformity, how uniform you want your lights to look? If you want variety in spacing, color, pattern, and overall placement of your Christmas lights, hand lighting is the right choice.

Lighting with Nets vs. Lighting by Hand: Our Take

Christmas net lights have a host of benefits, and we offer a nice selection of them. But for your bushes, hedges, and trees to look their best in the magical shine of Christmas lights, we don’t recommend them. Hand lighting is how you nail a professional styling that capitalizes upon creativity. Hand lit displays can also be thoughtfully tailored to the assortment of kinds and shapes natural in outdoor plants.

comparison pic of hand lighting vs net lightingWant to dive into giving your bushes, hedges, and trees the glow they deserve? We’ve got you covered. Check our selection of professional grade LED Christmas lights that are sure to make your holidays bright. And if you have any questions on setting up your displays, reach out through the contact info below.