How to Hang String Lights (Backyard String Lighting Ideas)

Heather Clouse
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General Tips for Hanging Outdoor String Lights

Decide what height makes you happy. Hanging lights for ambiance is very different from string lights for a party. Decide on how high you want your lights to hang and how long you want them too. Another great rule of thumb is that you should position the lights no further that 8-10 feet apart.

Buy lights with bulbs for the measurement you decided on. Light sets come in all sorts of varieties and it’s easy to accidentally get the wrong diameter if you’re not paying attention. The diameter of the bulb is what you will need to know when determining how much string is needed. A lot of LED string lights actually come with "bulbs" preinstalled which can't be changed down the line. In those cases make sure you only buy from brands you trust to have a long lifetime.

Got a wide backyard? Use more string lights. A narrow yard may only need 2-3 strings. Purchase extra bulbs. If you’ve used outdoor lighting in the past, you probably already know that bulbs burn out on a regular basis and it’s good to have extra bulbs on hand. Remember, the more you use your string lights, the more you’ll end up needing replacements.

Be sure to screw the bulbs into place and wear gloves while doing so. String lights are pretty, but they’re also sharp when they break. Aren't all glass bulbs? haha Scraping across your skin is pretty much the last thing you want to be doing while setting up lights.

End Near an Outlet

The most important guideline to remember when you’re hanging string lights is to have them start/end near an outlet. If you’re hanging them from a tree, you’ll need to have an extension cord nearby.

If you’re hanging them from a building, you’ll need to have a window nearby. You don’t want to be running extension cords or electrical cords up the tree or across the roof to power the lights if you can avoid for safety reasons.

Also make sure the outlets you're using are certified outdoor outlets which are waterproof and weather resistant. Plan this all out in advance so you know what to get and what will fit.

If you want to cut out the whole electrical outlet completely, then creatign a setup with solar powered LED string lights might be what you're looking for.

Use Solar Power LED String Lights

How to light up the backyard? Solar powered LED string lights are a great solution for this. These are the greenest solution and you don't have to worry about electricity cost, because the sun still shines for free.

They are easy to install, and hence you can have them installed in no time, maybe even in preparation for your next party. They can be used in almost any occasion including: parties, holidays, weddings, concerts, backyard patio, garden, deck and so on.

The solar powered option is the best because it eliminates the hassle of looking for outlets and wires. It’s just a matter of hanging the lights! Let natural light do the job for you by converting it into solar power with your backyard LED light strings. They are also lightweight, often water-resistant, and portable.

However, this can be a challenge for people who do not have adequate lighting in their backyard. The sun will not be able to charge the batteries enough, and the string lights will stop running soon.

Use Waterproof or Weather Resistant Outdoor Lights

You will not only be using the string lights outdoors but they will also be exposed to any possible elements like rain, humidity, etc.

So choose a string lighting set, which is waterproof or weather resistant, i.e. they can’t be found in splinters when used without any spare parts. Don't try to scimp out and get indoor lighting for outdoors. It will break and it's not safe.

Ideas for Backyard String Lights

You don’t need to go to an overpriced outdoor furniture store or resort to enjoy outdoor lighting. You can add your own lighting any time without having to spend much on expensive decorations.

String lights are a great solution as they are easily adaptable to any setting. String lights can be used to light up the whole backyard or just specific places. They can also come in handy inside your home. But that's a different story.

String lights are not expensive and some companies offer some great deals on packages with long strands of LED lights offered in multiple colors. You can get more bang for your buck so to speak.

The first step in hanging string lights is to determine where you want the lights to be. Look around and see where you want them to highlight important features, such as the pool or deck, or above your seating area.

You may also want to put lights in specific places to separate the areas, such as along the fence. Alternatively, you can simply run one strand of lights around your entire yard for a more uniform look.

Outdoor Patio String Light Canopy

Different ways and techniques of string light laying can add to the visual appeal of your home’s patio. Here’s one strategy you can use to make the most of your outdoor space and make it feel like an outdoor home.

All it takes is a trip to the hardware store, a few tools and a little talent. Just visualize how you want your patio to look like and find the items you need to realize that vision.

Firstly, measure the footprint of the area you are going to light. You will have to use many strings so make sure you have enough beforehand. Buy strings of bulbs that line the path and are the right length and shape. In order to hang them you can either go for poles or set up a full-blown pergola.

Most importantly, make sure all lights are tested before installation in case there are any issues. Hanging the strings is best done the night before the installation. The wires should be hung and strung across the patio. Make sure the strings are evenly spaced to create a balanced geometry.

For arches and pergolas you can hang the lights straight down from the top of the structures creating a pathway for guests to walk under. If you do choose to hang the lights from an arch, make sure that you purchase the correct length.

You may want to hang them with zip ties to secure them in place depending on the top of the structure. You can hang string lights from trees using zip ties as well.

String Lights for Garden Plants and Trees

Are you looking for more back yard lighting ideas? Here’s a simple way to hang string lights for your backyard garden plants and trees. This happens usually by using types of metal wire to wrap them around trees or other strong plants and keeping them in place that way. It gives the string lights a place to hold on to.

Garden Path Lights

Hanging string lights inside can be very functional. They are a great decorative lighting for any room in the house and is most commonly used in the bedroom. But they can also look very fancy when being installed along an outdoor path.

If you want to get the most function out of your lights, you need to think about where you are going to put them and choose lights that are best able to accent your room design. Other similar options are installing them along the edges of a pool, pond or other areas that can be defined in your backyard.

Light Up Fences

Decorate your garden and patio with string lights by hanging them on fences, arches, pergolas, and trees.

Be sure that when you purchase your string lights you select the correct type (twinkle or non-twinkle). You will also need to determine how long you want them to be.

Make sure you purchase more lights than you think you’ll need to cover the desired area. Usually you can return unused and unopened products. If you purchase too few, you may need to purchase more lights. String lights are inexpensive; the nicer it looks the fewer lights you can use.

If you’re hanging string lights on a fence, weave them into the top portions of the fence. Use a piece of twine to securely hang the lights. If there is no space between the fence planks, use zip ties to hang the string lights. Choose twine or zip ties in your fences color to hide them.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to keep my string lights from burning down my house?

Securely installing your string lights outside your home is essential for safety and security. As string lights have grown in popularity, so has the availability of outdoor string light accessories like string light clips or hangers.

Buy a hanger for your lights or make your own. String lights can be dangerous if they aren’t installed correctly. Lights have been known to catch on fire because of bad wiring or improper clamping.

Choose a sturdy, even surface where the light can’t move much (if not at least 6 inches from the edge of any surface that could touch your lights). It’s always best to use outdoor rated lights and electrical outlets. Keep the lights out of the sun, and make sure they remain dry.

Additionally, have the work done by licensed, insured, and bonded contractors who know how to do this safely.

My String Lights Won’t Turn on …

If your string lights won’t turn on, there may be a problem with the connection in the plug. Make sure the string lights are plugged into the plug correctly. Try a different outlet if necessary. If you have a set of extra bulbs, you can test if the problem is the bulbs by switching them out with new ones.

How to hang fairy lights?

There are many uses for string lights, and they’re not all for decoration. String lights make excellent lights for when you’re working outside at night, or even provide useful light indoors during a power failure. There are various options when it comes to how to hang string lights. You can hang them from a fence, patio canopy, or deck.You can use an existing structure to mount your lights or you can install a purpose built light stand.

If you see a post already in your backyard, you can just drape the string lights over it. If you are not sure how to hang string lights from a post, you’ll need to instead install a tension rod. Hanging your light from a tension rod attached to a homemade light stand is the easy way to mount a temporary or semi-permanent string light display.

If you want to hang them to a wall and be careful about preserving the wall, then removable adhesives are probably your best bet.

How to hang fairy lights on wall?

Use zip ties or removable adhesives in case you want to keep the wall untouched. These guys are inexpensive, and they’re strong enough to keep up the weight of the lights.

Chances are good that you have a few laying around. Pick some up at the local hardware store.

How to hang string lights on a house wall?

Drill holes in the wall.– It’s the easiest and the most permanent application, so it’s perfect for the concrete/brick exterior of your house. Drill a hole for each pull string. Drill a big enough hole to accommodate the zip tie’s or screw's head.

You don’t need to go overboard as you want a hole that’s about 1/4”. Too big and your zip ties will come out easily. Too small and you’ll mangle them and/or strip the plastic when you try to force them in.

Also, make sure to put the holes far enough apart that your zip ties don’t touch each other.