How to Hang Outdoor String Lights on Your Patio or Deck

Create an inviting ambiance—even after dark—with these tips on how to hang outdoor string lights on your deck or covered patio.

Spend more time out on your patio or deck with the right outdoor lighting. String lights cast a soft, cozy glow that can make warm nights spent outside even more enjoyable. Use our step-by-step instructions to hang outdoor string lights on your covered patio or deck. With this easy method, string lights remain sturdy throughout the year, so you don't have to worry about plastic hooks and other temporary solutions that won't last after the season. We use screw eyes and carabiners to attach the lights so they're just as easy to put up as they are to take down. Depending on the size of your deck or patio, you can expect to spend about an hour on this outdoor project.

patio eating area with grill and pizza oven
Edmund Barr

How to Hang String Lights Outdoors

Follow our step-by-step instructions for mounting string lights along your deck, porch, or patio.

What You Need

  • String lights and bulbs
  • Ladder
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Wood-bearing drill bit slightly smaller than your screw eyes
  • Screw eyes
  • Mini metal carabiners
  • Outdoor extension cord
  • Outlet timer, if desired

Step 1: Select Anchor Points

Lay string lights around the perimeter of your deck. Visualize where you want each strand to hang, and adjust lights until they're in the desired position. Make sure the plug is near a power outlet, or use an outdoor extension cord to extend the reach. Using a ladder and a pencil, mark the rough placement of each light on your deck's wood overhang.

Step 2: Install Screw Eyes

Predrill holes into the wood structural supports in your marked locations. Twist a screw eye into each hole.

Editor's Tip: How you want your outdoor string lights to hang determines how many holes to drill and screw eyes to install. If you want the lights to stretch taut around the deck, install a screw eye for every light. If you'd like your lights to swag, install eyes for every other or every third light.

Step 3: Attach String Lights with Carabiners

Use mini metal carabiners to attach the lights to the screw eyes. Simply thread the carabiner through the hole at the top of each light, then thread it through the eye of the screw. This installation makes it easy to install and take down or readjust the lights as desired.

Step 4: Install Light Bulbs

Place one bulb in the socket of each light. Twist until the bulb is secure.

Editor's Tip: We used outdoor Edison-style lightbulbs, but you can use any desired string lights made for outdoor use. Keep in mind that LED bulbs can help save energy if you plan to use your lights frequently throughout the year.

Step 5: Attach String Lights to Power

Attach the outlet on the string lights to an extension cord. Snake the cord down to your power source, and plug it in. Secure the cord to a wall or a post with cord clips. If desired, install an outlet timer so your lights automatically turn on and off.

vertical garden modern deck back patio
Adam Albright

How to Hang Outdoor String Lights from Poles

If you're hoping to hang string lights outdoors, but don't have deck beams or a structure nearby, consider making your own string-light planters. This allows you to create a seating area anywhere in your yard while maintaining cozy evening lighting. The outdoor DIY project requires just a few materials, including planters, treated lumber posts, and fast-drying concrete.

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