What's the best way to hang string lights in your backyard? Experts share just how to create perfect alfresco ambience

On a tree? On a fence? What's the best way to hang string lights in your backyard? Experts reveal the secrets for ambient evenings outdoors

best way to hang string lights in your backyard/ lights4fun
(Image credit: Lights4fun/Oliver Perrott)

Outdoor lighting is the ultimate garden accessory, and learning the best ways to hangs string lights in your backyard allows you to maximize alfresco suppers and balmy summer nights.

Garden lighting ideas have the capacity to transform an outdoor evening scene and atmosphere, elevating the mood and aesthetic of your summer get-togethers.

You can choose from a variety of string light styles and functions to suit your decor, including festoon or globe lights for a vintage effect, or fairy lights for a pretty twinkle.

Some smart string light ranges even allow you to connect to a music source so they dance along with the beat for the ultimate way to impress your guests.

'String lights are a stylish and functional addition to your backyard,' says Sheva Knopfler, creative director and co-founder of Lights.com. 'They provide overhead lighting after dark and give off a romantic ambient glow. 

'I love the look of vintage bulbs on a dark wire, giving the illusion of floating bulbs at night. vintage-style bulbs have a warm color temperature, making the otherwise dark and cool outdoors warm and inviting. You can also customize how brightly lit your space is based on how many string lights you use.'

The best way to hang string lights in your backyard for feel-good ambience

best way to hang string lights outdoors, festoon lights on pagoda in garden by Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

To best display string lights, you should invest in some cable ties and screw eyes to securely affix the lights to permanent structures such as trees, fences and pergolas. 

Amazon sells these cable ties cheaply,  and this pack of 25 screw eyes even more cheaply.

Shepherd’s hooks and festoon poles are also a great way to display your lights overhead for the ultimate twinkling canopy. See below for how to hang string lights on trees, fences, over decking and on pagodas.

How to hang string lights on trees

best way to hang string lights, string lights on trees in garden by lights4fun

(Image credit: Lights4fun/Oliver Perrott)

Connectable string lights are the ultimate choice for outdoor tree lighting. 

'We recommend connecting multiple sets together from a singular power source for a simple set up that’ll create the perfect garden feature,' says Amy Mason, director of product at Lights4fun

'Our rule of thumb for any outdoor tree is 33 feet of lights for every three feet of height. For deciduous trees, this is ideal. For fir trees, double it up.'

Her top tips on how to do it?  'Begin to tightly wrap the string lights from the base of your tree trunk and up the tree, moving on to the branches and securing with cable ties,' she suggests. 

'Use two and three-way connectors to cover different branches and create a welcoming display that will cast an even glow, all from the ease of a singular power source.'

Amazon sells these connectors which work as both two or three-ways.

As well as wrapping string lights around the trunk and branches, you can also use hooks. 'We recommend using Q hanger hooks to hang string lights on trees,' says Sheva Knopfler, creative director and cofounder of Lights.com. 'They screw into the tree as a strong base and can be reused.'

This pack of 20 Q hanger hooks does the job perfectly.

How to hang string lights on a fence

best way to hang string lights in your backyard, string lights on a fence by Ella James

(Image credit: Ella James)

String garland lights back and forth along garden fences to create a glowing border around your garden. 

Subtle string lights added to tall privacy fences will add a beautiful backdrop for outdoor living spaces and add the perfect finishing touch to your garden.

'Affix screw eyes to each post of your garden fence and loosely thread the lights through each eye, for a simple yet secure display,' suggests Amy. 

'You can choose connectable string lights with a variety of functions, with options ranging from static, twinkle and flashing, for the perfect accessory to complement alfresco celebrations throughout the summer months.'


How to hang string lights above a decking 

festoon lights over an outdoor dining table by Lights.com

(Image credit: Lights.com)

Add the perfect finishing touch to your decking area with warm white connectable string lights. 

We particularly like these warm white outdoor lights.

You can easily create a magical garland light canopy so you can extend your living area and enjoy sundowners in the yard. 

'We’ve found the best way to hang string light above a deck is to use poles,' says Lights.com's Sheva Knopfler. 'Frame the area you’d like to light with the poles, and the string lights will be out of the wayand draped effortlessly.'

This set of 9.8 foot string light poles is ideal.

Amy Mason of Lights4fun agrees that poles are a good idea, and suggests you can also use fences too. 'Daisy-chain multiple sets together and string the lights back and forth, up above the decking, attaching to pergola posts, surrounding fences or the exterior of your house,' she says.

'Secure them in place with cable ties for a fuss-free setup that’ll give your garden an enchanted feel throughout.'


best way to hang string lights in your backyard, string lights over an outdoor dining table by Sparkle Lighting

(Image credit: Sparkle Lighting)

Amy adds: 'Shepherd’s hooks are also a great way of displaying string lights overhead, perhaps over a dining table, so you can create a relaxing haven with any space.'

How to hang string lights on a pagoda

best way to hang string lights/string lights on pagoda by Lights4fun

(Image credit: Lights4fun/Oliver Perrott)

String lights are the perfect addition when it comes to lighting your pagoda. The soft glow of warm white lights from up above will uplift your garden ideas and create a relaxing atmosphere.

'Connect multiple sets of string lights together and swag each string back and forth,' says Amy. 'Loosely hang the lights from the roof of the pagoda and affix with cable ties to ensure a timeless.'

best way to hang string lights, string lights on a pagoda

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

You can also employ a similar technique to adding string lights to trees, and wrap them up the pagoda posts or around ceiling beams for a romantic finish that offers just the right amount of light at dusk.

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.