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Interiorscape Forum / Scaper Talk Discussion Forum / Holidays and Special Occasions / 20' Tree decorations...how many balls do I need?
Posted:  09 Aug 2011 16:22  
We are working with our first 20' tree, I haven't done any over 15' and I'm trying to estimate how long it will take to set up and decorate and how many balls (250mm, 200mm and 150mm) I would need to make it look fully decorated but not packed... any one have experience with this? I've estimated 144 150mm, 48 200mm and 36 250mm. Does that sound reasonable?
Posted:  09 Aug 2011 23:53  
I'm sure the veteran holiday decorators out there will come up with a formula, but I don't really have one.  For a large tree (15 ft) we recently did a proposal for, I actually did a virtual imaging of the tree and ornaments to scale in Photoshop.  Because the image is only 2D (flat in one plane), you need a multiplier to get a reasonably accurate estimate.  So if I like the way it looks in my rendering with, say, 36 of the 8" balls/ornaments on it, I'll usually multiply by 3 to get a close approximation of how many I'll need (one third in the photo, one third on the "dark side of the moon", and one third for the two sides, left and right).  You could probably get by with 2.5 as the multiplier, but if it's a full-width tree and not a slim one, better safe with x 3.

Am I close, elves?

Posted:  10 Aug 2011 05:18  
would love to see that virtual image. how do you set a scale in photoshop? never been able to figure that out in elements. are you using elements or photoshop CS5?
Posted:  11 Aug 2011 02:22  
what. you dont want to share?
Posted:  11 Aug 2011 05:19  
PS 6.0.  If you set the canvas size for 8.5" x 11" and stretch the image of the blank tree to fit the entire canvas (constraining proportions, of course), you can do a quick calculation on how many feet per inch you're working with, and size your ornaments proportionately. 

Sorry I didn't reply sooner, busy day today.

Posted:  16 Aug 2011 19:18  
Using the old Plantscape Inc. formula for the surface area of a 20' by 10' wide tree you would have approximately 325 s.f. of area to decorate. Try decorating a section of a tree in your facility with the ornaments you intend to use and measure how many s.f. is covered. You can then do a pretty close estimate as to how many ornaments you'll need.
Posted:  19 Aug 2011 02:21  
While we're on the subject, does anyone want to share a shortcut for figuring the length of garland/swagging to go on large trees like the 15-20 foot class?  I'm sure there's some calculus to arriving at the length of a spiral line drawn on the outside of a cone-shaped solid depending on how many times around the cone you'd like to go and how tall and wide the cone (tree) is.

This would also be helpful for figuring how many light sets you'd need, as they also are arranged in a spiral pattern from top to bottom of the cone/tree.

Posted:  19 Aug 2011 16:25  
I'll look it up in the notebooks that came with the Plantscape Christmas seminars of years ago.  Darn, those things come in handy, even if just for comparison to the coverage that I like.  The seminars were definitely money well spent.  Too bad that they don't do them anymore.  Maybe Kathy Johnson-Bizon could talk them into marketing the literature, as she used to work for them.

I often get around the garland/swagging issue by doing sections and attaching each end.  You don't get so dizzy running around the tree that way!

Posted:  19 Aug 2011 19:41  
Would that one could use that swagging technique with light strings!!!

Thanks for checking...I never got to those seminars because I thought that if I remained almost totally uninterested in and ignorant of holiday stuff, it wouldn't find me.

Posted:  19 Aug 2011 21:23  
Here's what the notebook says:

Lighting trees:

1.5 sets of 50 light sets per foot= average
2 sets of 50 light sets per foot= good
3 sets of 50 light sets per foot= very bright

8 to 10 ft. trees need at least 2 50 light sets per foot.

Light spacing on the set ranges from 2" up to 8" on mini-lights.  Short spacing (2-4") is great for high density lighting ("ball of lights" lighting, wire figures).

The notebook does not say what spacing is being used with the above formulas.  This formula assumes that you go in and out on a branch and that the trees are artificial.  It says that 5 to 7 lights are enough on each branch.  Larger trees may need 7 lights at the bottom.  Decrease lights proportionately as you move to smaller branches at the top of the tree.  No differentiation was made for slimline versus full trees.

In looking at a later section on large multi-construction trees, it says that a 50 light set is recommended per branch.  On a 25 ft. tree and taller, the 11th row and beyond will require two light sets per branch.  Again, it says that personal taste will tell you how to adjust the formula to suit your eye.

I'd say use that as a starting point and adjust from there for your preference.  We tend to go a little heavier than they say.

Hope that helps!

Posted:  19 Aug 2011 21:25  
By the way, they did not have formulas in the notebook for garland/swagging.

Posted:  19 Aug 2011 23:13  
That pretty much lines up with my experience with our 15-foot trees.  We use between 1400 and 1600 lights (one tree has smaller ornaments and needs fewer lights to look sparkly) on those trees.  I also concur with the heavier density on the lower branches of large trees due to there being more visible surface area to cover that doesn't have ornaments to fill space.

But I wonder...who has time to come up with these formulas while they're ostensibly in the midst of annual holiday rushes???  Someone on their install crew is obviously OCD!

Posted:  24 Aug 2011 19:04  
Relevant to David's post regarding the surface area of a large Christmas tree (which we presume to be roughly the surface area of a conical solid):

http://math.about.com/od/formulas/ss/surfacea ...

Posted:  24 Aug 2011 19:09  
Omit the area of the base of the cone (which we obviouly don't need to decorate on our tree) shown in the formula, so:

S.A. = Pi x radius of base x length of side

Posted:  28 Dec 2011 23:16  
OMG, I wsa always terrible in math, that's why it was so daunting to calculate the ornaments needed! Fortunately (for me, not my company) we didn't sell the 20 footer so I'm going to do a dry run on setting it up this summer some time, then I'll get a better idea... thanks for all the input! Happy New Year!
Posted:  29 Dec 2011 00:25  
BTW, my calculations for our new supersize ornaments for the 15-foot tree this year left us with a few dozen extra 8"-10"-12"-14" ornaments...all of which we retailed in our store!  Who knew there would be such a demand for ornaments-on-steroids at the retail level?  We do sell cut trees, some up to 12 feet tall, so maybe that explains it.  It's all good!


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