10 Ways to Amp Up Your Outdoor Space With String Lights

Light up your outdoor space with party-perfect decor.

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They’re versatile, useful and pretty darn fab. I’m talking about string lights, friends.

If you’re not yet using these workhorses in your outdoor patio design gameplan, then keep reading. Because I truly think that string lights are one of the easiest, quickest and least expensive ways to up your outdoor space in the blink of an eye. So before you start planning all of your spring and summer entertaining, it’s time to get real chummy with string lights.

Here are some of our favorite ways to incorporate them in your outdoor spaces:

Under an Umbrella

Inexpensive Party Lights Give Patio a Festive Feel

Inexpensive Party Lights Give Patio a Festive Feel

Though you don’t need an umbrella for shade in the evening or at night, they do provide a great spot to add some twinkly string lights. You can simply string the lights around the perimeter of the umbrella, or for an extra pretty effect, line the inside of the umbrella by following the lines of the umbrella seams.

Across a Patio

Modern Seattle Courtyard

Modern Seattle Courtyard

Photo by: Coreen Schmidt Photography

Coreen Schmidt Photography

This is one of the most common ways to use string lights, but that’s because it truly makes a big statement. Use anchor points such as a fence, rooftop or even some strategically added wooden posts to attach the lights in a zigzag pattern across your outdoor space. If you have a very large space to work with, consider using the lights to break up the space and create different areas.

On a Balcony

Modern Balcony and Garden With Metal Planters

Modern Balcony and Garden With Metal Planters


Sean Kelley

Photo by: Chris Bradley

Chris Bradley

You don’t need a large space to rock some string lights — even a small balcony works! You can hang the lights along the balcony wall, or string them up around the ceiling of your balcony. You could also use them to outline your patio door by stringing them all the way around.

In a Gazebo


House Crashers

Photo by: Martin Klimek/Getty Images

Martin Klimek/Getty Images

If you have a gazebo or any sort of outdoor shaded structure, you can use string lights to further define it. Try lining the perimeter of the structure with lights, or do a combination of perimeter and zigzag strings of light. Depending on your structure, you can use string lights both across the ceiling and on the sides of your structure.

In a Lantern

Add Holiday Lights to Outdoor Lanterns.

Add Holiday Lights to Outdoor Lanterns.

Photo by: Melissa Caughey

Melissa Caughey

If you’re very limited on space, get creative and use items like lanterns to bring some string-light loveliness to your patio. Both colorful string lights and white string lights work great for this. Add additional elements to the lantern depending on the theme of your party. For a summer BBQ bash you could add mini blowup beach balls; for a Fourth of July party you could add small flags; or for a luau you could add some faux fruit.

Around a Tree

Deck With Tree and String Lights

Deck With Tree and String Lights

Photo by: Tre Dunham

Tre Dunham

Wrapping trees with string lights is another great way to incorporate some sparkle into your outdoor space. You can keep things simple and wrap just one tree, or go all out and wrap a number of trees on your property. Try to stick with white lights to keep the look elegant. Once the tree is wrapped, you can use the strings to hand additional elements such as signs or other decor.

Make Artwork

String Lights and Lanterns Illuminate Garden

String Lights and Lanterns Illuminate Garden

Consider grouping the lights together and hanging them all in one spot to create a mini piece of art. You can use the lights to create a pattern, or simply line them up in rows for a big visual impact. If you want to get super creative, you can even use the lights to spell out a message or someone’s name.

Hang From a Window

Traditional Pool With Poolhouse and Twinkly Outdoor Lighting

Traditional Pool With Poolhouse and Twinkly Outdoor Lighting

Photo by: LGB Interiors

LGB Interiors

Use a window to hang string lights. Second-story windows will allow you to create height and drama with your lights. However, you could also consider wrapping the lights around a bunch of different windows.

Create a Chandelier

Outdoor Lights Look Like Snow

Outdoor Lights Look Like Snow

Photo by: Melissa Caughey

Melissa Caughey

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your string lights. Try hanging them from a tree, an awning or even a gazebo in straight lines to create a chandelier look. You can hang each line of lights at varying heights to create a much more dramatic feel. This would look especially fab over a dinner table or above an outdoor seating area.

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