Over the weekend, Chris and I hung some string lights in our backyard, and we wanted to give you a proper tutorial on how we did it! We have plenty of ground lighting, but we really needed some overhead illumination for these upcoming summer nights, and string lights are the perfect solution. Here are 10 easy steps that you could easily tackle in half a day’s time.
One thing we know for sure is water and electricity don’t mix! If you’re hanging lights above a pool, be sure to follow these guidelines so nobody ends up seriously hurt:
Of course, if you have a pool and are worried about the safety of hanging string lights above, you could either consult a professional or just don’t do it!
Next, you’ll decide what points you want to anchor to, how high to hang, and how taut or dipped you want them. You need to start somewhere near an outlet, then choose trees, posts, and other anchor points based on where lighting is needed. When we hung string lights in our friends’ backyard, we planted and cemented a post in the ground as an anchor and buried an outdoor-rated extension cord, so you might need to get creative. In this case, when we had our pergola built, we had a GFCI outlet installed with a switch. So any time we switch on the pergola pendants, the cafe lights will come on! This was our starting point.
We put a lot of research into searching for the best string lights for the job, and we felt really confident in these LED lights from Amazon. Not only do they meet all of the safety requirements listed above, but they’re energy-efficient, 2700 Kelvin (which is my preferred temperature for ambience), and the bulbs are supposed to last for 13.7 years if you use them 3 hours a day! I’m sorry, what??
If your starting point is going to be secured into wood or a tree, then the eye hooks work great! Drill a pilot hole, then drive the eye hook into the hole. Pro tip if you want to speed things along, hold a screwdriver through the hook for turning leverage. If the starting point will be brick or stone, a masonry bit, hammer drill, and masonry anchors will be required. Make sure the anchors are appropriately sized for the bit being used.
Now that you have your anchor in place run the wire through it and secure the wire. We did this by wrapping the wire around our eye hooks twice, then wrapping the wire around one of the pergola cross beams. Chris then used a flat bracket with two screws to secure the end of the wire to prevent unraveling. Obviously, this will look different from case to case, but the main point is you want this wire to be immovable and stable.
Pull the wire to the next anchor point and hold it up to determine placement. If possible, have the wire wrap around the pole, tree, or anchor point, crossing in front. This will reduce the drag on the anchor and prevent it from falling. Once you know the height, add the anchor in place and run the wire through it.
Depending on the material, you may need to switch between anchor types and materials. Always use anchor options best suited for the material they’ll be secured into. If you’re ever screwing eye hooks into a soffit or something that doesn’t allow the hook to be run around the back of it, consider running additional wire through the eye hook and screwing it into the wood soffit for additional tensile resistance.
Where the last anchor point is, secure it in the same way you did your starting point.
Using a ladder, climb up and hang the lights on the cable using the included zip ties. Be sure not to pull it too tight, or the lights won’t be able to slide along the wire. Once the lights are attached, pull them out along the cable until fully stretched out. Use zip ties to connect the lights to the anchor points at each length of cable.
The likelihood that you will end up with the exact length of lights you need for your cable is small. There are a few options for this.
We’ve only had a few nights to enjoy these newly strung lights, but already they’ve really romanticized the overall aesthetic and mood of our backyard. My favorite thing is that when it’s really dark, they reflect light onto the pool water, and I can’t think of anything more dreamy.
If you’ve hung cafe lights in your backyard, I’m curious if your process and experience were similar to ours!
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here.
We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen.
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The next project we’re checking off our 2023 project list is the mudroom! This used to be the laundry room until we built out a much bigger, better laundry room upstairs. So, in the meantime, this space has been exclusively Cricket’s room. Cricket will still have a special space here, but we’re transforming this dingy […]
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