7+ Creative Ways to Arrange your Patio String Lights (2024)

Lit Up & Loving Life in Your Backyard

To everything there is a season, sang The Byrds. That includes your backyard patio lights. Why keep the same standard arrangement all year round? There are a hundred ways to throw a summer party or a festive winter soiree, and as many ways to light(en) up your backyard:

In full holiday splendor. Backyard bistro style lighting. Subtle and simple. Warm and romantic. Soft and glowing. Bright and bedazzled. Even Las Vegas casino’d up if that’s your flavor!

If that sounds a bit too idealistic given the practical limitations of your backyard, stay with us. We’re not just into good looks; we also want useful, intelligent, realistic solutions to making your backyard that perfect staycation spot.

You might already be wondering, how many string lights do I need to make a V pattern, a scalloped square, a horizon point? How to hang patio string lights in zig zag? What’s a good amount of swag? How to string lights on a tree so they don’t look like my 4-year-old hung them up?

That’s a lot of questions, but we’ve got them covered, along with 7+ common and creative ways to hang those string lights.

The first beauty of string lights is their swag or arc. The second is their versatility. They can work with almost anything. So no matter what you do with them, they add ambience to your backyard. With all the various ways to arrange them, you can’t really go wrong with string lights. But that doesn’t mean you want to just randomly throw them up.

Whether you’re working with trees, fences, hedges, awnings, or string light poles, or want to hang, drape, or dangle your lights, there’s a lighting design that works with your backyard, right here in this 7-minute article.

String Light Patterns for Every Backyard & Patio

A Glowing Garden

Drape over a dense garden or hedges

For a simple, easy-to-upkeep backyard, hedges and dense ground creeping plants are ideal. The only problem is that they tend to look a little, well, lackluster after dark, turning into big unidentifiable blobs in your backyard without personality. String lights to the rescue! This might be one of the easiest ways to light up your backyard for a casual but charming look.

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Trim the Tree

Wrap around a giant tree trunk

Who says Christmas is the only time to trim the tree? If you have a giant oak or chestnut tree in your front or backyard, consider adding some romance and luster to the scene by wrapping string lights around the trunk. The results are stunning, easy, and immediate, and depending on the circumference of the tree trunk, you’ll likely only need one or two strings of lights.

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Prettify a Pergola

For a sensational “secret” garden

A pergola is already a beautiful addition to a backyard, especially if it boasts creeping vines like clematis or rambling roses. But add string lights and you’ve got a winner. If your pergola is bare, then you’ll want to be more strategic in how you position the lights. If it’s busy with foliage, then you can be a little more free in how you drape the lights over the beams or snake them through vines.

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Go for Extravagant

For parties and special days

If your mindset is that there is no such thing as over the top, then you’re going to love this. This arrangement is ideal for big backyard soirees where you really want to make a statement. You’ll need multiple sets of string lights to do this one right. It works best if you have a covered patio, awning, or trellis so you can hang string lights on the ceiling for the feeling of being surrounded by dazzling light. It’s spectacular!

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Sweet & Simple Swag

Swag-hang your string lights on a fence

Want to spruce up that boring fence? String lights not only add a glowing ambience to your backyard or patio, they also shake up the ordinary arrangement of things and inspire all sorts of creative ideas to come to life. This arrangement looks best when you position a cozy sitting area nearby the fence, so you can fully appreciate its romantic appeal.

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String Around the Rosy

Cast an upward glow onto your prize roses

Snaking your string lights around the edge of your garden is one of the easiest ways to get your garden lit up. We don’t recommend this arrangement if you have pets or young children, as the bulbs will rest on top of the garden bed. You will also need to pick them up and shake them off every now and then, depending on weather conditions. However, this arrangement makes a charming addition to your garden for special backyard occasions like baby showers or a girls’ Sunday luncheon.

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Under Cover

For awnings, covered patios, sunrooms & tents

Wondering how to hang string lights on covered patios? This arrangement is perfect if your patio or backyard is mostly under cover or your outdoor space is actually an indoor sunroom. Cozy up on a cold winter evening in your heated solarium, surrounded by the warm glow of lights strung overhead.

Depending on how much swag you want and area you wish to cover, position screw-in hooks around the perimeter of your patio ceiling, and hang the string lights from one edge of the ceiling to the other.

You may also create a horizon point – a sweeping design that meets at a middle focal point if you want a bit more intention or personality to it. Depending on your style, the focal point could be a disco ball (why not?!) or rattan lampshade. Keep in mind that the horizon point design requires several anchor points and string lights.

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Pick your Pattern

We can’t leave you hanging without mentioning the most versatile option for hanging your string lights. So, we saved the best for last. Use string light poles as anchors for creating a specific pattern.

For example, ever wonder how to hang patio string lights in zig zag patterns? Unless you’ve purposely planted trees or built fences with the sole purpose of hanging your new string lights, then you’re likely searching for a way to get those lights up without too much trouble. String light poles are the answer!

Consider the following suggestions for creating easy and stunning light arrangements in your outdoor space:

Zig Zag Pattern

1+ string lights & poles

Measure the area you want lit up, and position your string light poles in a series of V-patterns (how many is up to you and the amount of space you’re working with). Take into account your desired amount of swag. If your string lights are 100’ long with end-to-end connectors, allow roughly 90’–95’ between poles, give or take a few feet. It’s helpful to first position the string lights on the ground and experiment with the pattern you want to make. From there, you can determine the best location for your string light poles. Keep in mind that the string light poles should be placed 16’ apart, so you’ll need 7 poles per 100’ of lights.

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The V Pattern

1 string light & 3 poles

Easy and fun to create in virtually any size or styled space. Symmetry is not important here. In fact, unequal lengths on either side jazzes the whole arrangement up! Decide where you want the points of the V –– that’s where you’ll position the string light poles. Per V shape, you’ll likely only need one string of lights but three poles for each anchor point.

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X Pattern

2-4 string lights & 4 poles

This design works exceptionally well with square-shaped covered patios, but string light poles work too for a free-standing arrangement. You may also double up on the string lights and create multiple Xs to achieve a diamond pattern. It’s easy to do and looks super elegant.

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Square or Grid Pattern

2-4 string lights & 4 poles

Type-A personality? Keep your lights neat and orderly with a square or grid design. Hang your string lights across the length and width of your space to achieve a grid pattern. Or simply arrange your string light poles to create a square, and hang your lights to outline its perimeter.

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Feeling Inspired? Get Started Today…

Backyard Therapy has the materials you need to bring some of these lighting ideas to life. Check out our collection of string lights and poles here. Most of these suggestions are quick, easy, and painless mini-projects that are fun to create. Start and finish the same day so you can kick your feet up and relax in your “new” backyard, all lit up.

Author: Colleen Thornton

7+ Creative Ways to Arrange your Patio String Lights (2024)
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