Our Favorite Ways To Hang Outdoor String Lights

These patterns will have your yard’s evening glow just right for evening entertaining.

Warm weather in the South means plenty of time outdoors, but as the summer months drag on, it is often too hot to enjoy your outdoor living spaces during the heat of the day. Whether it's a casual backyard barbecue, thoughtful dinner party, or just lingering on the porch with good company listening to the sounds of summer, we love to take entertaining outside at night (when the temps are at least a little bit cooler). The key to a perfect evening gathering is making sure you have plenty of light, and there's no better way to dress up an outdoor space than by hanging string lights. They create a nice ambiance and soft glow throughout the space, completely transforming your backyard or porch into a relaxing retreat.

When trying to find the right way to hang your lights, there are a few factors to consider: where your power source is, how many anchor points can you create, how much are you willing to spend, and are there any obstacles to plan around. Depending on the shape and scale of your backyard or outdoor entertaining area, one of these methods might lend itself more to you. Here are some of our favorite ways to hang outdoor string lights to make things really shine.

Outdoor String Lights Above Picnic Table

Jennifer Davick; Styling: Elizabeth Demos

The Zigzag

When you're working in a sizable outdoor space, this look covers more ground than a standard linear style. Just know that if you don't have a fence framing your yard, you'll need to install multiple anchor points—these could be trees or the side of your house. This configuration is great for a large patio space with multiple seating and entertaining areas within because it evenly disperses the light.

Outdoor String Lights Zig Zag Formation
Kendyll Hillegas

The X Factor

Want overhead lighting in a pinch? The simple crisscross delivers easily and affordably. If you're working with two strings of lights, this one is ideal. While it works best in square spaces and seating areas, you can also try it over a long dining table. The beauty of this design is it can easily be narrowed to form a longer, more rectangular shape to best complement your space.

Outdoor String Lights in X Formation
Kendyll Hillegas

The Square

While this design is not the best for fully illuminating evening meals, it is an instant mood setter. Have a big backyard? Perimeter lighting (coupled with distinctive decking or pavers) can help establish a separate space for dining. This one is also great for if you have a fire pit anchored in the middle because you don't want lights hanging above an open fire. The square format also works well for framing the edges of a porch ceiling.

Outdoor String Lights Square Formation
Kendyll Hillegas

The Sunray

This pattern will certainly elicits some oohs and aahs from your guests. It requires one strong anchor point to bear the brunt of the weight. If you're a DIY novice, consider hiring a professional to hang it for you. This layout lends itself to perch above a dining area for maximum lighting. It is also great for a uniquely shaped space since there is flexibility with the anchor points—they do not have to be in a perfect line and the strings can vary in length.

Outdoor String Lights Sun Ray Formation
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