How to Hang String Lights: 10 Different Ways (2024)

Learn how to hang string lights over your deck, patio, or backyard with these string light ideas and step-by-step tutorials.

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Outdoor string lights are wildly popular, and for good reason! They feel magical and bring a warm, intimate ambiance to any party or outdoor living space.

Inexpensive, simple for the average person to DIY, relatively easy to put up and take down with the seasons, and the list goes on…

And if you’re still not sure what kind of lighting is best for your outdoor living space, I walk through more backyard lighting options in this post.

The Best String Lights

If you’re shopping for string lights, you’ll want to check out this post where I test and review 20 different brands. Spoiler: These are my top pick.

What’s the Best Way to Hang Outdoor String Lights?

The answer, of course, is “It depends.” But never fear! We’re about to go through 10 different ways to hang outdoor string lights.

The best option for you will come down to what’s around your outdoor space to secure the lights to, whether you need to install your own posts, and whether you plan to leave the lights up year-round or take them down for the colder months.

Make a Plan

I recommend getting out a tape measure, paper, and pencil. Do a quick sketch of the layout of your patio, and label it with a few basic measurements.

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Be sure to include the outlet or power source, and any nearby trees or structures you could make use of.

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String Light Poles & Posts

Buy Ready-Made String Light Poles

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The very easiest way to hang outdoor string lights is to buy ready-made poles. This year I bought and tested 15 different poles to review, and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of some (though not all) of them. These 10′ fork-style poles were the all-around winners for best quality, ease of installation, and value. You can read all the reviews here: .

DIY String Light Poles: The In-Ground Method

My patio dining space at my old house was right next to the house, with no convenient trees nearby. So while we could hang them from hooks on the house side, we really needed some poles on the other side of the patio.

We came up with this ultra-simple and inexpensive method for installing string light poles. The PVC stays in the ground year-round, but the poles themselves can be pulled out at the end of the season and stored in the garage. You can watch our quick video tutorial here:

How to Hang String Lights When You’re Renting

Here’s a slight variation on the string lights poles above. These poles use a patio umbrella stand as the base. They can be moved around easily and are perfect for wedding receptions, outdoor parties, or anywhere you don’t can’t dig holes in the ground. And did I mention this one only requires 3 tools and takes about 20 minutes tops?

More DIY String Light Posts…

Wendi from H2O Bungalow has a great tutorial for freestanding DIY Planter String Light Poles, which are moveable.

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And here’s another planter post idea from Lauren at Mom Home Guide.

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How to Hang String Lights On A Deck

I recently got these inexpensive deck railing string light poles for my parents’ new deck, and the installation took about 20 minutes. The poles come with brackets that attach them to the deck railings.

We tested two different brands of poles and were equally happy with them. Here’s the tutorial: How to Hang String Lights on a Deck

If you have a deck with railings, you’re already halfway there. Check out this ultra-simple tutorial from Jenna Kate at Home:

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Julie from Red Head Can Decorate hung them on the deck railing.

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How to Hang Outdoor Lights From Trees

If you’ve got big trees near your patio or deck, you’re in luck! You can use eye hooks, cup hooks, or coaxial staples to secure them to the tree.

Cyndy from The Creativity Exchange anchored her patio lights to a tree in this beautiful outdoor dining space.

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Ariel from PMQ for Two made use of some nearby trees to hang lights over her super-fun outdoor living room.

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Or drape them in the lower branches of a tree, like my friend Kippi did for this gorgeous backyard 4th of July party.

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How to Hang String Lights From a wall, fence, or building

If you want to hang your cafe lights from your house or another wall or fence, simply drill a pilot hole and screw either an eye hook, a cup hook, or a coaxial staple into the wall.

We used this method on the house side of our patio.

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I hung string lights on the wall behind my new boho porch swings! You can see the whole porch makeover here.

Jenna from Jenna Kate At Home hung string lights along her house next to her patio to create this ultra-casual look.

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Hang String Lights from A Ceiling or Covered Patio

April from Love Our Real Life has a roof over her deck, and she has a great tutorial for hanging patio lights from the ceiling.

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I hung string lights in the kids’ playhouse using a similar method- small cup hooks in the rafters. It takes 5 minutes to hang the lights up each Spring and take them down at the end of the Summer. You can see the whole playhouse makeover here.

Emily from Table & Hearth used a similar method to hang her string lights under her covered patio… but she hung them in a criss-cross pattern.

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I hope these tutorials were helpful! Now go enjoy your outdoor spaces!

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More Ideas for Your Patio…

100 Boho Outdoor Rugs Under $150!

Backyard Lighting Ideas: A Simple Guide for Outdoor Living Spaces

Modern Boho Deck Reveal

Bamboo Chain-Link Fence Cover Tutorial

Shop My Favorite Inexpensive Patio Furniture & Outdoor Rugs…

  • Boho Outdoor Rugs
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  • Plastic Outdoor Rugs
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How to Hang String Lights: 10 Different Ways (2024)


What are the methods of hanging string lights? ›

Stainless steel screw hooks (or cup hooks, which are nearly the same) are his go-to for a litany of reasons. “They're easy to install; if you have enough hand strength, you don't even need to pre-drill the holes,” he explained. “They really cradle the wire and hold it off the house a little.

How do you hang fairy lights on string? ›

Use clear, self-adhesive wall hooks (i.e. Command hooks) on walls, mirrors, shelves, and items you do not want to ruin. Use nails or thumb tacks for all other items, including outdoors. Match the color of the nail or thumb tack to the color of the wire. Drive the nails or thumb tacks between the twisted wires.

How do fairy string lights work? ›

Fairy lights work by having a copper wiring that's connected to LED bulbs. Copper wire is often used because it's pliable, so you can easily bend the lights around objects to create different designs. This allows you to be more creative with your lighting.

How do you hang heavy fairy lights? ›

Adhesive hooks like Command™ are perfect for hanging your Christmas lights as they don't cause any damage after removing them when the festivities are over. They can withstand a lot of weight so are a great idea if you are hanging a fairy light wall and want to use longer strings of lights.

How do you hang fairy lights vertically? ›

To hang lights vertically, take the end of the strand without the plug (you can hide this end in the branches, or you could connect it to a tree topper later). Starting at the top of the tree, let the lights cascade down to the bottom and drape the strand in an "S" shape down the front.

How do you hang globe string lights indoors? ›

What you need
  1. Measure the walls on which you'd like to hang the string lights to determine which size string lights to use.
  2. Mark spots on the ceiling for the hooks. ...
  3. Attach the hooks to the ceiling.
  4. Plug the string lights in.
  5. Starting from the hook closest to the outlet, drape the string lights over the hooks.

How do you hang string lights with hooks? ›

How to Hang Outdoor String Lights
  1. Step 1: Measure & Prep. The first thing to do is measure for both your string lights and the cable guide wire you need for spanning across any open spaces. ...
  2. Step 2: Mount Screw Hooks. ...
  3. Step 3: Connect & Tighten Cable. ...
  4. Step 4: Attach Your String Lights. ...
  5. Step 5: Sit Back and Enjoy!

Can you tape fairy lights? ›

Adhesive wall hooks are perfect for hanging lights without putting holes in your wall. If you want to know how to discreetly hang fairy lights, try low-profile tape like Scotch tape. Rather than hanging the lights, try wrapping them around shelves, curtain rods or other decor.

How do you hang string lights without pins? ›

How to hang lights in a room without nails
  1. Use adhesive clips. With damage-free adhesive hooks or clips, you can deck the halls without nails or stress. ...
  2. Drape on furniture. ...
  3. Wrap around banisters. ...
  4. Use brick and brick clips. ...
  5. From a curtain rod. ...
  6. Transparent tape. ...
  7. Wrap around household objects. ...
  8. Staples.

How do you string lights on a tree? ›

String lights by starting the string at the bottom of the tree and pulling it up to the top, then back down like a mountain. Continue to zigzag up and down the tree. Once you've wrapped the tree, tuck the strands farther in on the branches to make room for ornaments.

How do you hang string lights without wire? ›

Hanging without a wire: To hang the patio lights without a wire, screw a cup hook into the wall, fence, pergola or tree trunk to use as mounting. (You may need to drill a hole first, before putting in the screw.)

What's the best way to string Christmas lights? ›

Start at the bottom, zig zag Christmas tree lights through the tree in quadrants, section by section, versus around the tree. Place some lights deeper into the branches and place some closer to the front to create depth. Hide the lights' connectors by pushing it deep into the tree branches near the trunk.

What are the different types of rope lights? ›

Starting at the beginning, there are 3 different types of rope light: standard 2 wire, chasing 3 wire and LED and for these 3 types, there are high voltage and low voltage options. That means there are at least 6 different types of rope light and on top of that, there is color choices.

What is the difference between string lights and strip lights? ›

Strip lights are better for areas that feature hard, flat surfaces. You should also consider how often you like to change up specific areas. Rope lights are great for a more temporary look, because they can easily be unplugged and rearranged.

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