hanging patio lights

Tips and Tricks for Hanging Patio Lights

One way to turn your backyard into a space that is full of life and ambiance is to add outdoor lighting. Hanging patio lights is a great way to make the outdoors feel more like home. Whether you are dining in an outdoor bistro or dancing at a backyard wedding, the lighting has a powerful way of setting the mood for your guests. Hanging patio lights is a trick many professional designers use to make the large outdoor spaces seem cozy and intimate. Oddly enough hanging patio lights can also make small outdoor spaces feel more spacious and open. It all depends on the design of your lights, and the way you utilize the space. This article will go over tips and tricks you need to know when hanging patio lights. 

Make a Plan

If you have decided to hang patio lights in your backyard the first thing you need to do is make a plan. With proper planning beforehand, hanging patio lights becomes a quick and easy project you could easily finish in one day. Go on to Pinterest, Instagram, or your favorite outdoor magazine to get inspiration on the beautiful things you can do with patio lights. Don’t be afraid to make a rough sketch and try out one or two crazy ideas until you find one you totally love. Once you have an idea of what you like, grab a tape measure and get started! Below are some of the factors you may want to consider when planning how to hang your patio lights.

Measure Your Space

The first step to planning your patio lights is to measure the space in which you would like the lights to hang. This could be as small as a patio or as large as your whole backyard. This will allow you to buy enough lights to cover your space adequately and evenly. If you want to light a larger outdoor space consider hanging patio lights with larger bulbs and that are spaced out more between each bulb. If you are lighting a smaller space, choose smaller sized bulbs that are spaced closer together. Be careful not to crowd too many strings of lights into a small outdoor space. Remember, a little bit of light goes a long way!

Choose Your Lights

Your next step in hanging patio lights is to choose what kind of lights you want to hang. Patio lights come in lots of varieties and they are easy to customize to fit your space. You will need to decide how big of a bulb you would like on your string of lights. You can also choose if you want the light bulbs to have an opaque finish, a transparent finish, or satin finish. Think about what kind of a mood you would like your lights to set in your outdoor space. The transparent finish is most common for parties and every evening use. Light bulbs with opaque or satin finishes give off softer light, perfect for special occasions or quiet romantic evenings. You can also choose whether you want your lights on a white, black, or green string. This is purely a matter of personal preference.

Find Your Anchor Points

The next thing you will want to look for are potential anchor points. An anchor point is a place you can hang your lights off of that is sturdy and can support the weight of your string of lights. This includes, but is not limited to, poles, walls, fences, pergolas, eaves of houses, etc. If you need to create your own anchor point you can easily do so with a big planter pot, a wooden pole and some quick-dry cement. Simply mix quick-dry cement in a large planter pot and hold the pole in the center until it dries. You can then attach a hook to the top of the pole and use it as an anchor point for your lights. Make sure you have anchor points that are evenly placed throughout the space you want to light. 

Design Your Pattern to Hang

Once you have determined how many lights you will need to adequately fill your space and have located enough anchor points it is time to design a pattern in which you would like your lights to hang. The most common patterns include hanging your lights in a V, W, X or square shape. However, the possibilities are endless. In order to save you a giant headache, cut and measure pieces of strings to the same length as your strings of patio lights. That way you can easily rearrange your pattern to your liking without the hassle of securing the patio lights each time. This will also help insure that your patio lights are long enough to stretch between your anchor points. Once your string pattern is set how you like it, you can replace the strings with your patio lights.

Hanging Patio Lights

Hanging patio lights doesn’t need to be difficult. First, you should gather the proper tools for the job. You will probably need a ladder, screw-in hooks, guy lines, and maybe an extension cord or two. If you end up needing an extension cord, check that the amps of the extension cord matches the amps of the patio lights you are hanging. For example, of your string of patio lights has the capacity for 10-amp, but the extension cord is a 5-amp extension cord, then your string of lights is than limited to only 5-amp. A simple equation to check your strings amp is to take the number of bulbs and times it by the watts per bulb. This will give you a total watts number. Than take your total watts number and divide that by 120 volts. That final number is your amps.

When to Use Guy Lines

Finally, as you are hanging patio lights you may decide to use guy lines. Guy lines are cables that will support the weight of your string of lights and give it the proper tension. When you are hanging your lights between two anchor points, the string will naturally begin to sag down towards the middle. A guy line keeps your string of lights taut and eliminates that sag. If you decide you want your patio lights to hang straight, rather than swoopy, you would want to add guy lines. Most patio lights are already equipped with sockets that have a hole designed to thread a guy line through. If your patio lights do not have a hole for guy lines, you can hang the guy line first and use zip ties to attach the patio lights.

In Conclusion

Hanging patio lights is a great way to breathe a little fresh life into any backyard space. These lights will help you and your guests enjoy the comfort of a backyard oasis all year long. Hopefully the tips in this article will give you enough encouragement to design your own backyard hanging patio lights. Once you get them installed, sit back, plug them in, and enjoy the instant ambiance of your backyard!

Related Article: Best Outdoor String Lights to Give You the Patio of Your Dreams

Amy O'Brien

I am a mother, homeowner, and a DIY kind of gal. Whether it’s backpacking in the mountains or throwing a BBQ in my backyard, I love bringing my family to the great outdoors!

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