Kimmie's Special Projects Blog

Grab your safety glasses and watch video of Kimmie trenching, wiring and lighting here.

You’ll see how she helps a bachelor turn his “cheesy” backyard into the party pad he desires!

Tricked Out Tree Lights-before

OUR MISSION:  to light-up these backyard trees

PROS:  Kimmie sees an opportunity to use a big power tool and help someone out

CONS:  no existing power

Do your trees need some cool lighting but you just can’t stand the sight of those extension cords?
Don’t hire an expensive electrician…do it yourself! 



Tricked Out Tree Lights-after
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!  These lights really brighten up his backyard.



Tricked Out Tree Lights-light ball
I also added 6 light balls for some extra party pizzazz.  These “Starlight Spheres” are manufactured by Bethlehem Lighting. 

They remind me of the ambience at “Windows on the Green” restaurant in Central Park, New York.




Tricked Out Tree Lights-Kimmie digging 1
Better safe than sorry!  There are 2 main safety precautions before you start:

1.  Call your local utility companies (in most areas, it’s bundled into one free call) to have any underground lines marked.  Also flag the locations of all sprinklers.

2.  Locate the wires from where you will be working, determine the breaker that supplies the power and turn that power off.  A circuit tester can find new connections when an existing light or other item doesn’t exist to test for power.

I recommend digging a trench 12” deep.  For this particular project (see video link above,) I fire up a power trencher do to the hard work.  In this photo, I am working on areas where tree roots are in the path. 



Tricked Out Tree Lights-Kimmie digging 2
Use a hand shovel to dig under any tree roots.  Although this is tedious work, the tree will be protected from any damage. 




Tricked Out Tree Lights-Kimmie installing cable
Once the trench is ready, type UF-B Electrical wire is dropped in the ground.  This cable is covered by heavy plastic sheathing and is designed for placement in the ground without being encased.  However, for additional safety, a flexible PVC conduit will still be used over this cable.




Tricked Out Tree Lights-fitting PVC
Weaving the cable and conduit under twisting tree roots is….tricky!


Tricked Out Tree Lights-diagram
Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the backyard.



Tricked Out Tree Lights-GFCI outlet
Since 1973, GFCI protective outlets are required for most outdoor receptacles.  For safety, complying with this National Electrical Code (the Code) is important.  So what’s a GFCI? This is short for Ground-fault Circuit Interrupter. If moisture were to enter the receptacle and touch the wires, this inexpensive device would immediately cut the power to the box, preventing electrical shorts or fires.


Tricked Out Tree Lights-box and GFCI
With outdoor wiring, everything must fit together exactly. I’m using outdoor-ready electrical boxes with gaskets that prevent water from penetrating.  For your wiring to meet code, connections must be installed a specific way.  All splices must be made inside an outlet, junction or switch box. It also is suggested that the nuts are wrapped lightly with electrician's tape for added safety and neatness. Connections to terminals are made with wire ends looped in the direction the terminal turns, clockwise. This way, the wire is tightened under the terminal screw.


Strip the outer insulation from it about 6 inches so the wires may be positioned easily. Lay the cable on a flat solid surface and use a utility knife (or cable stripper) to remove the outer insulation. Easy does it!  Tightly twist the wires around the brass screws.  Again, make sure no bare wires touch.


Tricked Out Tree Lights-outlet installed
These free-standing outlets (receptacles) need to be at least 12 inches above the ground.  To anchor and make sure these new outlets are secure, pour in a small amount of concrete.   


Tricked Out Tree Lights-Kimmie installing conduit
Now YOU can do it yourself!  Please email me if you need any project advice.