Decorative string lights are one of the easiest updates you can bring to your porch or backyard. Keep the party going after the sun goes down with these inspiring ways to light up your yard with outdoor string lights.

String lights aren't just for winter holidays. Patio light strings can provide a cozy place to read a book in the summer or bring extra light to the party when the bonfire runs low. Most often, patio string lights will set the mood and provide a little twinkle, rather than illuminate a space for functional reason. Consider using them in conjunction with other light sources, such as candles on a dining table or pathway lights to help keep people sure-footed. Decorative string lights also come in many different designs, including vintage-looking Edison bulbs, sleek orbs, and even lantern-shaped lights. In all, outdoor patio string lights are an inexpensive solution for giving dark patios and outdoor spaces a little twinkle. See all the different ways you can incorporate these fun light fixtures into your backyard.

Canopy of Light

string lights
Credit: Lounge chairs on patio

Light up the night with a canopy of large bulb lights strung above a cozy seating area. Multiple sets hung closely together give you the most light for an outdoor space that doesn't leave you in the dark when the sun goes down. Most strings of patio lights simply plug in, so installation is a “no electrician required” project. This set of patio string lights is bright enough to illuminate the entire deck so you can keep the party going even after sunset.

String Boundaries

string lights

If your backyard doesn't have the clear boundaries that a fence or patio provides, make your own with a set of string lights. Stretched across the corners of the house, these lights line this stunning courtyard with a subtle glow and give the picnic table the feel of a sophisticated al fresco bistro. Two strands of lights hung diagonally through the center provide the space with extra light perfect for an outdoor game night.

Night Swim

outdoor pool

Taking a dip in the pool at dusk is possible, thanks to these stunning decorative hanging lights. Simple string lights draped over arbor beams set the mood for a romantic night swim. Posts on an outdoor structure provide an opportunity to create a swag patio string light pattern. One set of patio string lights is enough to get the job done without disrupting the beautiful natural surroundings.

Light the Way

outdoor room

Lights strung by a pool house or she shed smooth the transition from indoors to out, and provide a subtle directive, pointing to where the fun is happening. While entertaining, keep the door open for guests to walk between the spaces. The dim lights makes them feel connected.

Beaming Light

string lights

If you don't think your backyard can support decorative string lights, think again. A DIY fix or two can make it happen. These homeowners installed simple wooden posts on two corners of their concrete patio. The posts are perfect for holding up a set of outdoor patio lights, but they also work to display gorgeous planters and outdoor lanterns for additional lighting. Once strung and lit, this space is ready to entertain.

Twinkle, Twinkle

string lights
Credit: Christina Ladensack, Duxbury, Vermont

When working with outdoor patio string lights, you don't have to go big. These scaled-down string lights provide more of a twinkle than a fully lit space. Hung casually under an arbor, twinkle lights are more for decoration and help set the mood for a fun, relaxing night under the stars. These also work well for screen porches that already have a main light source.

Dinner Party

Mini Farmhouse Makeovers

Make your patio table the ultimate dining escape by decorating with string lights outdoors. This al fresco space is outfitted with a single strand of string lights hung above its center. The dim lighting sets the perfect mood for enjoying late-afternoon food, drinks, and dessert. However, be sure to have additional lighting, such as outdoor sconces, available for when the sun sets and the party is just getting started.

Happily Ever After

string lights

Like a scene from a fairy tale, this backyard dazzles with decorative outdoor lighting in the trees overhead. Complete with poufs, soft rugs, and lots of fluffy pillows, this seating area is made to be enjoyed from day to night with good company. Create this look by stringing several sets of patio lights from branches to your house to create the ultimate cozy backyard corner. Look for battery-operated string lights or invest in a few extension cords, if an outlet isn’t within reach. Always be sure to use lights, extension cords, and other lighting equipment that is graded for outdoor use.


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