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15 Ideas For Outdoor String Lights That Will Make You Want to Live Outside

Far from the colored plastic holiday-style lights of days gone by, today's outdoor string lights are simple, elegant and absolutely epic on a summer night. Here are 15 of the best outdoor string light ideas for your backyard.

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Backyard String Lights Ideas: Water LightsProfotosession/Shutterstock

Backyard String Lights Ideas: Water Lights

Outdoor string lights are the perfect addition to any pool deck, even more so if strung overhead to provide just enough light for an evening swim. For more waterside inspiration, here are 10 amazing backyard swimming pools you need to see. Another great option for outdoor lighting is flower bed lights.
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Backyard String Lights Ideas: Dress the HedgesJackStocker/Shutterstock

Backyard String Lights Ideas: Dress the Hedges

One of the prettiest ways to make a statement is by using the natural elements in your backyard. Link several strings of outdoor lights together and weave through the dense cover of a hedge to make an instant impact, and light the way to a good time. If your hedge needs trimming, be sure to sharpen your pruning tools before you get started.
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Makeshift Canopy: Canopy String Lightspapa studio/Shutterstock

Makeshift Canopy: Canopy String Lights

Attach outdoor string lights to tall fence-posts or other structures and crisscross your yard to create a canopy for your guests. The perfect addition to an outdoor barbecue, you can pair this canopy with a DIY outdoor table, like this ingenious one, made from Quikrete countertop mix.
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Outdoor Tree Lighting Ideas: Wrap TrunksJackStocker/Shutterstock

Outdoor Tree Lighting Ideas: Wrap Trunks

Many people go straight for the foliage, but don't overlook tree-trunks as an easily accessible and beautiful frame for string lights. Create a lighted forest of trunks in clear bulbs for a magical effect, or add some colorful lights for a bit of whimsy. If you'd like more trees in your yard, our tree-planting tips help ensure success.
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A Starry CeilingBob Distefano/Shutterstock

A Starry Ceiling

Even on a cloudy night, you can still enjoy the stars with this inventive overhead illumination. Attached to the underside of a gazebo, or wound through pergola supports, these lights add ambiance no matter what the night sky looks like.
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Magic BottleKan Taengnuanjan/Shutterstock

Magic Bottle

From old canning jars to vases any see-through container looks magical when stuffed with string lights. For perfect country charm no matter where you live, use battery-powered string lights in glass jars and hang them using stainless steel craft wire. The result is like lightning bugs floating through the air.
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Elegant Work LightsSean Pavone/Shutterstock

Elegant Work Lights

Who wants boring work lights when you can string together an elegant alternative? String lights are the perfect way to illuminate your outdoor cooking and eating areas, patio umbrellas and anywhere else you want a little more light at night. Plus: More Outdoor Lighting Looks You'll Love
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Go VerticalStudio Peace/Shutterstock

Go Vertical

Why not skip the horizontal altogether? By hanging string lights vertically you can create a curtain of lights that is the perfect backdrop for any party or special event. Whether free-hanging from the trees, or up against a fence or wall, this is a look you'll want to keep all year round.
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Dress Your DécorKati Molin/Shutterstock

Dress Your Décor

With a little creativity, there is no limit to the ways you can use string lights in your outdoor décor. Wrapped around a wreath or a favorite sign the lights add a cozy glow. For safety, always make sure there are no dangling cords. This lighted infinity table is a unique indoor décor project.
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Mix and MatchLovepixelMan/Shutterstock

Mix and Match

While you can never have too much of a good thing, you may well have too much of one thing. Mix up your outdoor lighting with various shapes, bulbs, and colors for an eclectic vibe that speaks high-style.
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Create a Focal PointAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Create a Focal Point

Sometimes all you need to highlight an outdoor focal point is a little light. Dress up a favorite window-box, plant or other unique item with lights and let the rest of your décor speak for itself.
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Mark Your TerritorySnap Happy/Shutterstock

Mark Your Territory

An elegant way to highlight your space in a minimalist style is to drape clear outdoor string lights along your fence for an understated effect.
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Window DressingAlex Sun/Shutterstock

Window Dressing

You may not want the eaves and windows of your home illuminated year-round, but if you have a shed, pool house, detached garage or other outbuilding, lights will look great there any time of the year. Plus: How to Install Replacement Windows
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Use Fabricpik56/Shutterstock

Use Fabric

A light-breezy fabric, which is flame-retardant and designed for outdoor use, can create a magical divider or temporary ceiling in your outdoor space. Choose sheer fabric for the best effect. If you want to create a bit of privacy indoors, this DIY folding room divider is one attractive option.
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Go BigDavid Lee/Shutterstock

Go Big

Sometimes you just have to go big. Instead of smaller lighted elements, choose one focal point, such as a tree, and wrap it top to bottom.