10 Ways to Use LED String Lights for Magical Patios and Special Events

10 Ways to Use LED String Lights for Magical Patios and Special Events

Everyone loves that magical feel of porches and patios around the holiday season. There is something exquisite about walking in a world lit by tiny string lights and floating fairy bulbs. So why put away that magical feeling when you pack away holiday-specific decorations? String lights don't have to indicate a special season but rather, every special season and event that you care to celebrate throughout the year. Many people put up tasteful string lights around their patio and backyard all year, while others break out their favorite LED string lights to celebrate every special family event.

Birthdays, weddings, or just a summer barbecue with your closest friend is worthy of that magical feeling created by beautifully draped string lights. If you love spending time on your back patio and want to enjoy that time even more, a canopy of string lights or a twining of lights around railings and pergola columns might be exactly what you need to feel special every night of the year.

So today, we're spotlighting ten wonderful ways to use string lights to make your patio and special events more magical when the sun begins to set.

Outdoor patio with LED lights

1) Create a Criss-Crossing Canopy of String Lights

There are few effects more enchanting than creating a canopy of string lights above your head. Use the eaves of your home and an opposite horizontal structure from your deck to support string lights that create a criss-crossing canopy above the heads of your family and guests. These overhead fairy lights create the illusion of a ceiling while truly accenting the beauty of the stars and moon above your head. Not only does a canopy of LED string lights look beautiful from below and add a sense of magic to your back patio, the lights also provide useful overhead illumination for late night barbecues or even reading by starlight on warm summer evenings.

Deck railing covered in LED lights

2) Wind String Lights Around Your Deck Railing

If you have a deck or back porch, then you have the perfect opportunity to create a twining string light design. Choose your favorite long light rope or string of twinkling string lights and wind them around your deck railing. With one design, you can wind an LED light rope around the top bar of your railing to create a beautiful spiral pattern wrapping your back deck. You can also twine LED cluster lights and strings of little lights up and down the balusters (vertical posts) of your railing to make it seem like your entire deck is surrounded by beautiful twinkling fairy lights.

3) Capture Each Light Inside a Tiny Lantern

If you want to create the feeling of stepping into a fairy garden, then capture each of your string light bulbs inside a tiny lantern. Creating charming homemade string light lanterns is a hallmark of DIY wedding design, but you don't need a marriage to decorate your patio with that ethereal fairy lantern style. 

Little paper orbs create a glowing paper lantern look or tiny jars will disperse each twinkling light as if it were an old fashioned oil lantern. You can also buy fairy lights - clusters of tiny string lights inside their own individual bulbs to recreate the same effect. The fairy lantern style is perfect for strings of lights with bright bulbs further spaced than traditional Christmas lights.

4) Drape the Eaves with String Lights

The eaves of your home are just begging for year-round string lighting, especially to accent your back patio experience. Use your eaves and the underside of your gutters as the perfect mounting spots for scalloping string lights. Instead of creating a straight line (gingerbread house style), drape the lights in scalloped whimsy for a more season-flexible magical look when enjoying your back deck and garden. The eaves of your home are the ideal mounting point for LED string lights and can also act as inspiration for other mounting points at the same overhead level. If your home forms a horse-shoe around the back patio, you can even start your criss-cross from the eaves alone.

5) Twine Rope Lights Around Picnic Tables and Patio Furniture

If you have a backyard picnic table or patio furniture, use the stationary tables as inspiration for your string light design. Glass-top tables look enchanting with string lights wound around the legs and supports of the table below the thick glass surface. Frosted glass even glows when lit from below. Picnic tables are a great place to use an LED light rope wound around the legs, supports, and underside of each surface, making your outdoor seating even more inviting. 

If you have a hammock, wind the posts or the trunk of the tree where the hammock is hung and give your hammock a little canopy of lights above. If you have a porch swing, wind the stationary supports with lights to make the swing ever more welcoming for solo or shared time in the warm evening.

Tree canopy with LED string lights

6) Light the Path by Draping Lights from Backyard Trees

Who doesn't love a beautifully lit path? While staked solar lights make a lovely ground-level lighting, you can also line your paths with lines of string lights or LED light ropes hung from trees and posts above. Define your paths with magical-looking overhead lighting winding off into your arboreal backyard and twisting through the trees. 

7) Outline Outdoor Event Spaces with Fairy Lights

Of course, you don't have to stop at paths. Outdoor special events are often made perfect when the open spaces are defined with lights draping from the trees and nearby posts. If you have a clearing in your backyard that is perfect for family gatherings and special events, wrap it in LED string lights. Create the illusion of fairy lights subtly lighting your social outdoor spaces by draping the trees and creating a twinkling canopy around the perimeter of your backyard clearing.

8) Line or Twine Your Pergola with Strings of Light

Have a backyard pergola or a deck built with overhead pergola shading? This is your perfect chance to create a magical archway in your back garden design. Pergolas and pagodas are both beautiful when illuminated. Start by twining lights up and down the columns, defining a lit space that guests and family won't be able to resist wandering toward and standing beneath. Then use the overhead structure to twine lights over the pergola struts or create that criss-crossing canopy above depending on your pergola and preferred design.  A fairy-lit pergola creates a romantic space worthy of a cinematic moment in any romance movie. Lovers, long-married couples, and the romantically inclined will love your lit pergola the moment they lay eyes on it glowing out of your back garden twilight.

String lights over a backyard

9) Place Vertical Poles to Drape String Lights Anywhere

Don't have enough eaves, pergolas, or trees to hang your string lights from? This is no problem at all. You can sink tall poles into the ground around your back patio or even set them into buckets of quick concrete to create stable supports for any string light design you care to imagine. Once the poles are set securely in place, use steel cable between the tops of each pole and your home eaves to create the light anchor structure that you need. These poles and wires are quite subtle in back garden design while giving you the perfect anchor points for the string lighting design of your dreams.

10) Surround Your Outdoor Hot Tub with Ethereal Lights

Last but certainly not least, you can make a back patio hot tub into an unbelievably magical experience with the addition of a few LED string lights. Lace a canopy of lights above your hot tub or use poles and pergolas to wrap your hot tub in walls of lights that become incredible when soaking in the steaming water. A glass of wine and twinkling string lights can turn your hot tub time into a dream experience that you and your closest friends will never forget.

Bonus: Tips on Powering Backyard String Lights

As string light experts, let's not forget powering your new lighting designs in the backyard. There are several approachable methods to isolated, tree-hung, and patio-furniture mounted string lights that don't start close to the wall. For string lights on the porch railing or hung from the eaves, you can use Christmas light tactics running the power to a nearby outdoor (or just barely indoor) outlet. Further out, you can bury your extension cord, encase it in a narrow tube, or cover it with a sturdy outdoor rug to cover the power line. You can even experiment with solar-powered batteries for your isolated strings out in the yard hung from trees and furniture.

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