Everyone needs a cozy spot to unwind, whether for solo time, date night, or entertaining guests. The perfect getaway may be hiding in your own backyard with little more needed than the right lighting. A bit of planning and you can easily create your new favorite happy hour spot without ever leaving your home! Let’s look into some simple ways you can turn any ordinary backyard into the patio space of your dreams.
Plan it Out: Measure and Design Before Jumping In
You can’t get anything done without a plan in place. First things first- measure out your space! We recommend at least putting together a rough sketch of the area you’re trying to light. Note the measurements for quick reference later. Also, many hang patterns call for a swag in the light strings, so remember to add an extra 2-6 feet of length to your measurements if that’s the look you’re hoping for.
Now comes the fun part where you get creative! Take inspiration from all your favorite outdoor spots. Places like public squares and restaurant patios are likely to have fun patio lights in designs you’ll want to recreate.
Still unsure where to start? Here is a list of some of the most popular patio light patterns to help get your creative juices flowing.
The V Pattern – A versatile option for any space. The V pattern is easy to achieve and does not need to be precise to look good. Keep in mind that the pinnacle point of the V, where each side connects, bears the weight of the entire light string and should be anchored sufficiently to support the additional pressure.
Zig Zag or “W”- Zig Zag patterns are a fun and interesting choice when you want to add full coverage illumination across your space. This can be achieved with one long light string or through the use of multiple strings connected end to end.
X Pattern Patio Lights- This design works especially well in wide spaces or areas that are square shaped. If you have multiple light strings, hang several X’s in a row to create a diamond pattern. This light display appears intricate but is actually incredibly easy to achieve!
The Horizon Point- Similar to the V in that the light strings all anchor to one central point and fan out. This design requires more hanging locations opposite of the central horizon point. This technique is typically used in professional events and restaurants, but with some planning it can easily be achieved in residential outdoor spaces as well!
Tent or Maypole Design- This design features multiple light strings anchored in a spoke and wheel arrangement from one central point. This point, typically either a pole or beam, needs to be sturdy enough to support the weight of multiple light strings and may require professional installation.
Scalloped Edge Design- A very common but romantic and easy to achieve option, the scalloped design is a popular choice for wedding lighting and garden parties. Create scallops by making a swag in your light strings every 2-3 bulbs. Scallop lights along a fence, wall or other flat surface.
Now Bring it to Life
Time to revisit your sketch from earlier! Take note in your plan where your patio lights will hang, how many anchor points you will need, and how you will attach your lights to those points. There are ways to create your own anchor points if there aren’t obvious options in your yard. Attach poles to deck railings or add cement poles into painted buckets or decorative planters. This gives you the anchors you need without adding more clutter to your space.
While the installation process may vary depending on your design, our list of supplies and FAQ’s should help you get started in the right direction! You may also want to consider the use of a guy wire or galvanized steel cable to prolong the life of your light strings by removing the tension that is created on the string as your patio lights hang over time.
Supplies You Might Need
- Hooks (screw-in hooks or another variety)
- Zip ties
- Extension cords
- Staple gun
Patio Lights FAQ’s
How far apart should I space my lights?
This depends on the overall look you want. Hanging your patio lights closer together will look more like a canopy of stars. If you only have a couple very long light strings and a long, narrow area, consider spacing each section of your pattern farther apart to cover greater distances with less strands.
What about LED lighting?
LED systems have revolutionized outdoor landscape lighting. They offer vastly longer life, incredible energy savings, and sustainability through the use of new technology. With LED systems, the nuisance of light bulb replacement is eliminated. Old, incandescent bulbs were rated for 2000-3000 hrs. LED fixtures are rated for 40,000+ hours (which is 15-18 years of regular use!). These systems have truly become “no-fuss”; just install them and enjoy years of beautiful light in your landscape!
Can I keep my lights hung year-round?
Depends on the type of lights you are using and how they’re hung. If you are using LED lights, they will be durable enough to withstand harsher weather and cold temperature, meaning you should be able to keep them up year-round. If you are hanging string lights, be wary that accumulating snow and ice can weigh your lights down and possibly cause them to fall.
How do I know what type of lighting I want?
Lights are categorized by how they function:
- Overall: Overall light provides illumination for a whole room or space.
- Task: Task lighting is used for a specific purpose, such as to light a path.
- Accent: Accent lighting draws attention to an object or area.
Consider what you need from your space, like how you’ll be using it, to help you make the right choice.