How to Hang Outdoor String Lights

How to Hang Outdoor String Lights

String lights (sometimes called fairy lights) have skyrocketed in popularity to hang both indoors and outdoors in recent years. Creating a warm, friendly, and even festive atmosphere, you’ll learn everything you need to know about hanging string lights outside in this handy blog post.

Decide where to hang your string lights 

If you want to make your outdoor string lights look stunning, you first need to decide where you’d like to hang your string lights from or on, as this will determine the proper methods you should take to hang them securely. 

Patios are a great space to utilize string lights due to their ambient illumination that is good for romantic dinners, friendly get togethers, and calm morning coffee breaks. You can also wrap string lights around or from the trees in your backyard to create a focal point while illuminating the majority of the grassy areas to allow for easy visuals of your backyard space.

Outdoor string lights are most often hung from trees, deck railings, posts, or on wood or stucco – but these are certainly not the only places you can hang string lights! You can even install temporary string lights if you’re not feeling up for fully committing to outdoor string lights year-round. 

Feel free to get creative with your outdoor space, but keep in mind any other additional factors that might affect the look and function of your string lights, like weather, budget, or environmental impact.

Choose your bulbs and style

There are many different types, styles, and variations of string lights, as well as bulbs. Choosing which ones you want for your space in conjunction with where you’d like to hang them is important, as the style of string lights you’d like may not be compatible for where you want to place them and vice versa. Here are just some of the different types of string lights out there and where they’d look best.

  • Globe lights – these round, transparent LED lights are great for creating a soft, inviting glow in any outdoor space both at night and during the day. They’d look best hanging from posts or trees.
  • Paper lantern lights – paper lanterns can give your space an even more personalized, whimsical look as you can pick what color the lanterns are as well as their size. These look best hanging from railings, trees, or posts.
  • Fairy lights – twinkling, subtle, and festive, these types of string lights are hugely popular for both indoor and outdoor use for a reason. Fairy lights can look great outdoors from where they can be seen clearly and accent the space well because they’re so thin. Aim for putting these on railings, walls, or trees.

Recommended materials for installation

Depending on where you’re hanging your string lights and their type, materials for installation may vary – but set-up and installation for any kind of outdoor string lighting is relatively simple, quick, and can be done by anyone. 

If you have these basic materials, hanging your outdoor string lights is a breeze.

  • Measuring tape – an essential tool to have on hand for any home improvement project, you can use a tape measure to help you determine how far apart you want your lights to sit based on how taut you want them when hanging them from trees or posts.
  • Metal hooks – for hanging string lights from posts, walls, or trees, you can use screw eye hooks or cup hooks in order to keep your lights hanging securely outdoors.
  • Wall anchors – providing even more security than your typical metal hook, wall anchors are your best bet when hanging string lights from your walls that are wood or stucco.
  • Staple guns – staples also add extra security of your string lights if you’re hanging them from trees, walls, railing, or somewhere overhead in particular.
  • Outdoor/painter’s tape – if you’re looking for a temporary way to keep your string lights up during a short outdoor event, outdoor or painter’s tape will help hold them in place. This method of installation works well if you’re hanging your string lights in a more subtle location where guests won’t see them closely, like beneath a deck railing.

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1. How do you hang outside string lights?

1. Choose your lighting

Like we listed above, there are multiple options for outdoor string lighting. Once you choose the string lights that work best for your outdoor patio space, you can begin planning where to place them.

2. Measure

Depending on the size of your space you are trying to illuminate and the length of your string lights, you will want to measure how many lengths of lighting you will need. After determining the amount of feet you will need for lighting, now it is time to plan how you want to layout your lighting to best illuminate your space while creating an aesthetic atmosphere. 

3. Decide how you will hang your outdoor string lights

We suggest creating a few different sketches of potential lighting layouts you can pursue with the length of string lights you have. When you settle on a design, now it is time to place your attachments to the key secure points within your sketch. 

4. Determine how to attach the string lights

Based on your sketch, you should know whether your string will be attached to a wall, tree post, or another attachment point within your yard.

5. Pre-drill your guide holes 

After finding the attachment points within the layout of your string lights, you will predrill holes for hooks, or anchors that will secure your lights to the location you mapped out. If you don't need predrilled holes for specific locations, a staple gun is a great alternative and is easily removable in the future. If the location is temporary, utilize painters tape to secure your string lights.

6. Hang your string lights

Once you have all of the points prepped for where the string will be secured to, now you can begin hanging your lights up!

2. How do you hang patio string lights on the wall?

To prevent drilling holes in your concrete or stone wall, utilize materials like gutter hooks or brick clips that allow you to attach your string lights to a secure point without damaging the wall you are using. 

3. Do you need a guide wire to hang string lights?

We recommend that if you are hanging string lights that include heavy bulbs or are running the string lights more than 100 feet, guide wire would be necessary to help support the original string light you are using. It provides extra support for your hanging lights, reducing the tension of the strings.


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