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How to Hang Outdoor String Lights, According to the Pros

This type of outdoor lighting is a lovely way to brighten up your space, and even add a little flair to your yard or patio.

Hanging string lights throughout your outdoor living space will help illuminate your yard or patio, so your daytime festivities can continue long after dark. String lights also add ambience to your space and make it more inviting. Read on for pro tips on hanging your string lights the right way.

Choose Your Favorite Style
You have plenty of options to choose from when lighting your outdoor spaces, which is why Joe Raboine, the Director of Residential Hardscapes at Belgard, says that it’s important to figure out your exterior’s style first. “LEDs are the most common; many now include color-changing technology so you can adjust the lighting to fit any setting,” he says. “There also are many different bulb types and looks to choose from, so it really all comes down with matching the functionality with your own personal style.” To ensure you select the best lights for your outdoor area, Jeff Manning, the president and founder of ABG Builders, suggests opting for LED lights or light ropes that are resistant to the elements—and that can change colors for occasions. “When shopping for string lights, check the reviews carefully for quality,” he adds. “Always purchase UL listed lighting. They are an electrical fixture, so you want quality.” According to Manning, a UL listing ensures that the manufacturer has undergone certification for safety and performance.

Use the Right Tools
To correctly hang your string lights, Raboine suggests first placing a braided stainless cable in the area. The reason? String lights aren’t meant to support their own weight long-term. “The cable should be hung between stainless eye hooks and clamped together; the end needs to plug into a weather-proof protected exterior ground fault circuit interrupter (GCFI) outlet,” he says, adding that you can choose to connect them to a timer or dusk-to-dawn sensor, so they activate automatically when the sun sets.

Opt for a Looser Look
String lights look best when placed with a whimsical approach. “They are typically hung with some slack, which gives them an effortless look and feel,” Raboine says. “They can either zig zag or radiate from a central hub to provide more visual interest, depending on the layout of the outdoor space and the homeowner’s personal style.”

Stay Safe
These lights should never be hung over recreational water spots, like swimming pools or hot tubs. “This presents a major hazard, should the lights fall into the water,” Raboine says. And remember: Any lights that are hung outside should be fit for exterior use and be able to stand up to wind, snow, and rain. Using indoor lights outside can result in all kinds of issues, including the potential for electrical shock and fire.

Lauren Wellbank,