Expert Patio Lighting Tips for Outdoor Spaces

If you're considering patio lights for any spaces similar to those listed below, this chapter is for you.

  • Backyard
  • Patio
  • Deck
  • Balcony
  • Gazebo
  • Arbor
  • Courtyard
  • Atrium
  • Garden
  • Indoor/Outdoor Room
  • Rooftop
  • Outdoor Bar
  • Outdoor Kitchen
  • Pool

Large Backyards, Decks or Patios

Larger spaces often need larger bulbs, but this does not necessarily mean more bulbs, which is a common misperception. The space between your bulbs is a design consideration often overlooked because many stores only sell common string lights with the same bulb spacing options. However, if you are wanting patio lights for a larger outdoor area, consider stringers where the bulbs are 12" to 24" apart depending on how dense you want your lighting to be.

Larger spaces need larger bulbs
Guy Wire Technique

Hanging string lights in larger outdoor spaces with limited hanging points requires careful planning. If you have solid objects like trees or house structures you are in great shape and may only require basic hanging hardware like eye screws, S hooks or C hooks. However, if you have limited options you'll need to consider installing poles or running guy wires that can be used to support your light patterns. Guy wires can be run through larger spaces and then your patio lights can be affixed to them to suit your design.

Balcony or Small Deck Lighting

Ready to make your small deck or balcony come alive?! There are some great lighting options for you. First, if you want hanging patio lights consider medium to smaller sized bulbs. These bulbs won't overpower your space and they come in a variety of shapes and colors.

Balconies and decks also have the added benefit of railing, which is great for wrapping garland lights or smaller string lights for a little added flare. Garland lights are densely interwoven strands of smaller string mini lights and they look great in swag patterns or for broders.

Garland lights have many purposes and during the holidays it is common to see them bordering doors or windows. But, during the spring or summer months (or for special events and parties) they are a hidden secret that savvy decorators and DIY'ers can use year round.

Gazebo and Arbor lighting


Gazebo Settings

Gazebo and Arbor Lighting

Often outfitted with greenery, vining plants or other landscaping, gazebos and arbors look magical when they are lit up. Popular light types for these spaces include mini lights, trunk or column wrap lights, and icicle lights, which can be hung from gazebo rafters. If overall heat is a concern (think hot summer nights) consider going all LED which emit almost no heat. White/clear lights are popular year round for weddings, Christmas and overall spring and summer lighting.

Courtyards, Atriums or Indoor/Outdoor Room Lighting

Courtyards and atriums often have walls on three or four sides, which means you have the distinct opportunity to cast light halos on your walls. A light halo cast on a wall can provide a gorgeous symphony of patterns and there are many bulbs that cast different patterns based on their shape, style and filament type.

Consider bulbs with incandescent or LED filaments as a first step. These bulbs uniquely cast patterns with more intricacy and it will give your walls a subtle ballet of light.

Lastly, similar to gazebos spaces, if your your atrium, courtyard or indoor/outdoor room needs a little flare but you don't want it to be an oven, go LED and you won't have any light heat to worry about.

Gardens, Flower Beds or Walkways

The word garden can be interpreted differently so in this case we're not talking about where your tomatoes are planted! These are outdoor spaces like flower gardens, plantscapes or landscaped spaces with walkways and sitting areas.

Depending on the size of your space, patio and string lighting options would be very similar to those in the backyard and patio space listed above. Another option unique to this space is rope lights, tape lights or pathway string lights used to accent borders, rock walls and other landscape contours. These lights tend to be very low to the ground and are a great way to highlight your plants and natural landscape shapes.

Great Walkways

Great Shape!

Great Walkways

Rooftops, Outdoor Bar and Kitchen Lighting

This just implies good times...hanging out, eating good food, relaxing and having fun. When it comes to livening up these spaces with hanging patio lights almost all options are available but consider your safety first so you can have fun without the worries. Extra wind, fires from grills or additional water from sinks and bars all exist in these spaces. This means account for your light distance away from areas that can cause them harm, like above open flames. Also, in these settings consider the use of GFCI outlets.

These spaces lend themselves to additional lit decor that other spaces do not. When you think about themed outdoor spaces like tropical bars, cantinas, pizzerias or bistros, there are lights and lit decor used for each setting that are unique. Consider options like lit hanging chili peppers or rope light palm trees to set a playful tone. Want a slice of outdoor Americana? Add a rope light American flag behind your outdoor bar. If you’re looking to create a cozy bistro, consider flameless candles inside designer table lanterns to create the atmosphere you want. Most importantly...have fun!

Designer Laterns

Designer Lanterns

Create the atmosphere you want with additional lit decor!

 Lights around a pool area can lead to serious injury or death due to electrocution. Always consult a licensed electrician.
Lights around a pool area can lead to serious injury or death due to electrocution. Always consult a licensed electrician.

Pool String Lighting

We strongly recommend NOT placing string lights directly over the pool. There are electrical codes that also prohibit the use of string lights within a certain distance from a pool, including overhead distances and the type of bulbs that are allowed. This is a safety hazard that could result in serious injury or even death due to electrocution so it should be avoided altogether unless you have a licensed electrician perform all the work to the codes in your area, which may or may not allow this.