House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

10 Expert Tips on How to Hang Outdoor String Lights

beautiful string lights decoration at a restaurant

Hanging string lights can elevate any outdoor setting and create a completely unique ambiance. But while there’s no denying the outstanding results, sometimes hanging them up can become a massive headache.

We’ve been there, so we understand. Take it from us: if you want to install your outdoor string lights with as few headaches as possible, there are some tips you’ll want to check out and follow below.

garden flower divider

The 10 Expert Tips on How to Hang Outdoor String Lights

1. Measure Your Space

Cost Free
Ease of Completion Easy

Before you start hanging up string lights, do yourself a favor and measure out the space you want to hang them. Then, consider how you’re hanging them.

If you’re wrapping them around a post, it’s going to require far more lights than if you’re pulling them tight. Measure it all out, then give yourself a little extra leeway to ensure you have enough lights when you’re hanging them up. In the end, it’s better to have extra lights than not enough.

woman measuring window
Image Credit: sirtravelalot, Shutterstock

2. Plan in Advance

Cost Free
Ease of Completion Easy

If you want a great final look, you need to think it through. Do yourself a favor and envision the final product. Think through all the details and plan it out. It takes a little more upfront, but if you have a plan, you can make it happen.

Planning in advance ensures everything meshes in the end and helps you get everything you need to put it together before you start trying to hang the lights up.

christmas string lights
Image Credit: Dzenina Lukac, Pexels

3. Get the Right Lights

Cost Free
Ease of Completion Moderate

While you might think all hanging outdoor lights are the same, that’s not the case. There are different sizes and styles, and while you can try and make the wrong kind work for your project, it’s better to get exactly what you want.

Not only is it important to get the right aesthetic style, but it’s also important to note the kind of power they use. Don’t get hardwired hanging lights if you plan on plugging them in, and if you’re going with solar-powered hanging lights, ensure they have access to sunlight throughout the day.

Decorative outdoor string lights
Image Credit: funkyteddy, Shutterstock

4. Use Your Environment

Cost Free
Ease of Completion Easy

When you’re looking at how to hang your outdoor lights, use what’s available. While you can put up hooks, poles, and supports if you need to, you can still make the existing environment work for you.

Light Bulb String
Image Credit: Dan Dennis, Unsplash

5. Use Hooks

Cost Low
Ease of Completion Easy

Often, there’s just no way to hang the lights the way you want with what’s there. This is when a few hooks can go a long way. Hooks don’t make a noticeable impact on the overall décor, but it gives you an area to attach each strand.

Don’t overdo it, but it’s better to put a few extra hooks up than to not have enough and watch everything fall down halfway through the event.


6. Get the Right Color Bulbs

Cost Moderate
Ease of Completion Easy

We sometimes forget about the ambiance created by the color of a bulb. The last thing you want is to think you’re getting a clear or yellow bulb only to end up with a completely different color.

Take a look at the color of the bulbs before you start hanging them up. That way, you don’t end up wasting a bunch of time or money.

pink string lights
Image Credit: KilimanjaroSTUDIOz, Pixabay

7. Consider Support Cables

Cost Moderate
Ease of Completion Easy

If there’s a lot of space between two posts, you should consider some sort of hanging support to help keep the bulbs up. Not only will this help with the overall look, but it’ll help keep the bulbs from sagging down further as the night goes on.

Furthermore, hanging supports will help ensure nothing falls down, and it’ll help keep the lights from hanging too low where people can accidentally step into them.

outdoor string lights on tree posts
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

8. Consider Poles

Cost Moderate
Ease of Completion Moderate

Hanging supports are great, but if you have nowhere to put the supports, it can be a problem. If there’s a large gap between the two areas, you might need to add some poles to help.

If you’re planning on using poles as a support system, pick out ones that won’t conflict with the rest of the décor and ensure that guests can see them at night.

outdoor string lights on wooden posts

9. Hang the Wire First

Cost Free
Ease of Completion Easy

If you’re using hanging lights with bigger bulbs, you should consider installing the bulbs after you hang them up. It doesn’t take much to break a bulb, and when you’re wrapping them around everything you can easily break a few.

Moreover, if you’re trying to navigate the wire through a tighter space, it’s a lot easier if you don’t have any bulbs on the wire already.

string lights with big bulbs

10. Keep the Box

Cost Free
Ease of Completion Easy

If you’re keeping your string lights up forever, this isn’t a step you need to follow, but if you’re only putting up seasonal outdoor string lights, you’ll want to keep the box. This gives you somewhere to put the lights when in between uses, which will help prevent damaging the bulbs.

Not only that but storing them in the box will help keep them from knotting up, which will make it far easier to hang them up the next time.

hand holding string lights

garden flower divider


With a little patience and guidance, there’s no reason you can’t get your hanging string lights up with ease. Plan it out, take your time, and be ready for some hiccups. With that mindset, you should be able to get your hanging string lights up without wanting to rip your hair out!

Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools