How to Hang Festoon Lights Outdoors – Your ALL Inclusive DIY Set up Guide
Hanging festoon lights outdoors isn’t as tricky as it can look at first, but it does require a little preparation if you want to make anything special. Here are all the things you should know about the tools and materials for this process and how to hang them up in areas with and without trees.
The most important thing to remember about hanging festoon lights outdoors is that every location is different, so you may need to get a little creative when planning your installation. Depending on the yard your working with you may find hooks, stands or even getting creative with sturdy ropes or wires that come in very handy.
The best part is though, setting up festoon lighting is an easy DIY project which gives an impressive professional finish. Follow our simple installation steps below on and you’ll have the yard set up and ready for dusk drinks in no time.
Tools and Materials Required
You’ll need different tools depending on where you want to hang your lights. Figuring out how to hang festoon lights in a backyard without trees is fundamentally different from using a pergola. Here the three primary installation situations.
Strung Between Fixing Points Less Than 8m Apart
- Outdoor Festoon Lights: Make sure you have enough to cover the entire length of the area you want to illuminate.
- Outdoor Extension Cord: Must be rated for outdoor use, although you can skip this if you have an exterior outlet close enough to where you want to install your lights.
- Drill: Electric drills are best, but manual drills are an acceptable alternative if needed.
- Tape Measure: Tape measures will help you measure the distances between hookup points as necessary.
- Pencil/Painter’s Tape: Either of these will do well for marking spaces after measuring them.
- Metal Hooks/Eyes: These will be used as fixing points. Make sure you get hooks that are sturdy enough to hold the weight of the belts and support wires. Most hooks are more than strong enough for our purposes but for safe measure, avoid the smallest and weakest ones.
- Zip ties: These will be used to secure the belts to the metal hook and eye fixing points.
- Ladder: Unless you’re setting up at ground level, you’ll need one of these.
Strung Over Large Areas With Fixing Points Over 8m Apart
For this situation, you’ll also need the following tools:
- String Light Suspension Kit: These kits are the best way to support lights over longer distances. Your kit should include a wire cable, pad eyes with screws, snap hooks, lock clamps, and turnbuckles.
- Wire Cutter: This is for trimming the wire cable from your suspension kit to ensure it fits. Don’t shorten the cable until after you’ve installed things. Cutting too early could result in a cable that’s too short for the job.
In Backyards Without Trees Or Other Tall Supports
For this situation, you’ll need all the essential tools, and you may need the following extra tools and materials
- Wooden Posts/Poles: These will form the basis of your stands. Get whatever height you prefer, but it’s generally better to put festoon lighting no more than 3.5 meters up.
- Hammer: You’ll need a hammer if you’re using the nails.
- Nails: Nails are useful if you want to attach to a fence.
- Weighted Buckets: Buckets serve as the foundation for posts or poles. These are available in several varieties, but plastic filled with concrete is a good choice.
Your Follow Along Setup Guide Guide
Once you’ve gathered all your tools, and selected the appropriate festoon lights it’s time to get your hands dirty for a fun couple of hours transforming the backyard! We’ve got follow along step by step instructions for how to hang festoon lighting in all types of backyard spaces. If you’re working with a wooden deck, a patio area, an elevated balcony, or the garden lawn we’ve got you covered.
1. Plan your lighting layout and fixing points
Before you do anything else, figure out where you’re going to need fixing points installed by laying your festoon lighting out on the ground. Try to avoid draping them over the furniture or other obstacles because that can throw off your measurements.
This is the best time to figure out the pattern you want to use for your festoon lighting. Most people use X, V, zig-zag, parallel, or pinwheel patterns depending on the area’s shape. Keep the location of the power source in mind.
At the same time, look at potential fixing points in your backyard to see how well those support the pattern you want. Trees, tall fence posts and the sides of houses are all outstanding choices as fixing points.
Most people have trouble with fixing points farther away from the house, and that’s where installing posts or poles come into play. Done correctly, you can set up a sturdy pole with minimal effort. This lets you maximise your options and get the light pattern you want.
Fixing points should be less than 8m apart if you’re not using support wires.
This is an excellent time to test the LED globes and make sure all of them work. You don’t want to hang them up and only find out there’s a problem later!
Pro tip: Don’t forget to make use of your backyard surroundings, trees, fences, pergolas, and patios make for sturdy fixing points!
2. Install fixing points (and support wire if necessary)
Once you have your pattern down, it’s time to install the fixing points. What types of fixing points you need depends on factors like the design you’re using, but most people do fine with simple metal hooks or eyes.
Don’t forget to close these fixing points later to prevent the wind from blowing the cable from coming off the hooks. Drill holes for the hooks first, then screw each of your fixing points into place. You can add adhesives if you want to be particularly careful, but most outdoor surfaces won’t require this.
You can install support wires over almost any length the manufacturer recommends, but consider adding additional support poles if you’re stringing them across an area longer than 16m. Support wire should be rustproof, generally stainless steel wire will do the job here.
3. Attach lights to fixing points or steel wire support cable
Once you have your fixing points up, it’s time to hang the lights themselves. Make sure you use cable ties to firmly attach the lights to your wire or fixing points. This is usually a straightforward process once you have any support lines up, but make sure you have someone to hold the ladder for you while you’re climbing around. When attaching lights to steel wire, we suggest using zip ties on either side of the LED globe for the cleanest finish.
If you’ve purchased festoon lights with hooks attached to the top of them (as pictured) you can simply loop the zip tie through the hook and around the support wire!
Installation where the spans between fixing points are under 10m apart and no support wire is required can simply be attached to the fixing points.
Once you’re done attaching the string lights, use electrical staples or other tools to keep your power cord snug against the wall, ground, and posts of your area. This will reduce the chance that someone will get hurt tripping over.
4. Screw-in the LED light bulbs
It’s now time to screw in each of the LED bulbs before switching the power on. Most festoon lighting kits are fitted with E27, Edison Screw fittings, these are the easiest and simplest to use. Simply screw each bulb clockwise in the socket until the base of the bulb touches the base of the socket, or can go no further.
Make sure the light bulbs are screwed all the way to create a tight waterproof seal. When using shatterproof LED bulbs, you can screw the bulb into the socket without worrying the bulb will shatter.
5. Connect to power and turn on the system
After all the LED bulbs are snug in their sockets, it’s time to flick on the power and test your system to be sure the whole thing works.
The beautiful warm white glow emitted from the light bulbs will sparkle long into the evening, setting the scene for many memorable nights ahead.
How to Hang Festoon Lights in the backyard without Trees
For those wondering how to hang festoon lights in a backyard without trees or support points, you’ll need to be a little more creative to achieve your dreamy landscape. Making use of some common garden features you’ll be able to suspend the lights above your guests with ease.
How to setup string lights on a fence
If you have an existing fence and you want to hang festoon lights up, attach 3m wooden posts with cup hooks to your fence and side-nail them into place. For added security, you can use drills and screw your new posts into place instead.
Most fences are already well-grounded with concrete grips on their posts, so they’re also sturdy enough to hold your new posts and keep your festoon lights in place. You can use shorter poles if needed, but try to avoid making them longer. If you need to set up posts more than 3m high, install them independently instead of connecting them to your fence.
If you’re installing multiple posts along your fence, space them about 2.5m apart for a zig-zag pattern, or wider if you’re planning something like an X or a V shape type installation.
How to hang string lighting under a pergola or covered patio
Hanging festoon lights under a pergola or a covered patio is arguably the easiest way to do it. You can attach cup hooks approximately every meter under your structure and create almost any type of design. Many people follow the existing lines on roofs or porch beams for aesthetic reasons, but you can also make other patterns with your string lights for these structures.
How to hang festoon lights on a patio, deck or hard surface area
This is a little more complicated than hanging festoon lights on fences or under pergolas. If you’re working on a hard surface area and can’t break it up, get some of those buckets filled with concrete and space them out to match your design.
Festoon lights strung over more extensive patios will exert a lot of pull on the posts, so make sure you use enough posts and have enough weight at the bottom to keep them steady. Otherwise, a little too much wind could tip them over and bring the entire setup crashing down. If in doubt, err on the side of having more weight instead of less.
Make sure you use sturdy clamps, too. Metal tubing is a good choice for these setups, especially if you use tube clamps instead of basic hooks.
The good part about arranging festoon lighting this way is that you have almost total freedom for your poles’ placement, which means you can create some truly intricate designs.
Successful festoon light installations all have one thing in common, planning. String lights themselves are relatively light, and most hooks stay in place, so the real trick to installing them is making sure the components don’t pull too hard on each other. As long as you plan it out, you can hang festoon lights practically anywhere.