A Splendid Light Display in Nichols Hills - 405 Magazine

A Splendid Light Display in Nichols Hills

Carol and Mike Johnson’s 75-year-old red oak features a awe-inspiring light display in Nichols Hills.

A light display in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma

Photo by Mel Willis

As night falls and neighborhood streets light up, one neighborhood tree stands quite “grand” in more ways than one. Carol and Mike Johnson’s 75-year-old red oak, located on Grand Boulevard in the heart of Nichols Hills, is a sight to behold. 

“The shape of it is majestic, so when it’s lit it makes it even more majestic. It’s just incredible,” said Linda Horn, Total Environment’s director of community relations who has been working with the Johnsons for the past seven years. “A tree like that lends itself to lighting. The structure is pretty perfect; every branch is almost evenly spaced on that tree.”

Jeremy Tharp, lawn maintenance department manager for Total Environment, coordinates the holiday installation. Since the Johnsons’ oak is so mature, the team works with extra care to preserve it. It’s a tedious project, requiring seven workers on site for five days, but the results are quite impressive.

“I personally like the ‘Chesapeake’ style, where we wrap each branch individually,” he said, adding that the Total Environment team ensures that every bulb works every year as they place the lights.

“We want to make it look right,” Tharp said. “Everybody sees it, and it’s for everybody.”

“It’s like a gift to the community,” Horn agreed. “They’re not just doing it for themselves, they’re doing it for everyone to enjoy.”

Night after night, cars slowly stream by the Johnsons’ home, eager to admire their magnificent tree. For a few months a year, it glows in a gorgeous white-and-green silhouette — a seasonal beauty on display.


Be selective. If you’re applying the “Chesapeake” style to your trees — that is, fully wrapping the trunk and branches — choose those with distinct branching. Bald cypress and ginkgo trees are typically great choices. 

Invest in LEDs. LED lighting is 90 percent more energy efficient than incandescent lighting. Though LED lights are more expensive up front to purchase, they will last longer and save you in energy costs over time.

Frame the house. If the home is going to have other lit decorations, like wreaths or nutcrackers, make sure the lighting design frames the home and complements the whole picture. 

More lights means more power. Large installations with 600 to 800 strands will require additional power. Many homeowners have a separate power source installed outside their home to accommodate seasonal displays.

Remove lights annually. As trees and bushes grow, they expand, so don’t leave lights on your landscaping year-round. Remove the strands in January or February.

Go with the pros. Professional landscaping companies can provide design ideas as well as care-free installation. They also have the proper equipment, like ladders and harnesses, to safely reach higher places. 

Looking for more holiday decor? Let interior designer Ivy Pierce inspire you.