Are you looking for how to hang string lights in the backyard without trees? We’ve done a few of projects with lights and no trees.
Outdoor string lights bring a great feel and hominess to your backyard space. We’ll show you 7 different methods so you can pick the one that works best for you.
1. Hanging Lights on 4X4 Posts
The first way you can hang string lights is by adding 4×4 posts where you want the lights to go. In our case, we had a deck accessed by sliding glass doors coming into the house. We knew we could use the house to hang part of the lights.
We just needed three posts at the end of the deck to extend the lights over the entire decking area. 4x4s make for a very heavy duty string light pole.
Tools and Supplies Needed
- 16 foot pressure treated 4×4. We got ours from Lowes
- C hooks to secure the lights to the posts
- The lights you want to hang – we use these
- ladder for hanging the lights
- Post hole digger or shovel
Figure out if you’re using your house for part of this or if you need to string the lights using only the posts as shown above. If the house isn’t involved, then you’ll need 3, 4, or more posts to make the area that you’re stringing lights in.
You’ll want to figure out where you want the posts to go in your outdoor space so it will look right and mostly line up around the area where you’re hanging the lights.
We used the house, but we were also covering a large area, so we used (3) 4×4 posts.
With the post hole diggers or the shovel start digging the hole for the first post. Since you’ll need about 3-4 feet to go in the ground, we got the 16 foot pressure treated posts. This gave us 12-13 feet height for the lights to hang higher.
Now do the same with the other holes. Give it a good distance from the first one and make sure it makes like a square or rectangle area for the lights.
Once the posts are in, you can use your ladder to go to the top of the post to screw in the C hooks. Ideally 2-3 inches down from the top of the post is a good spot for your hooks.
Now you can start running your lights.
Actually, you want to test your lights first. We assumed they all worked but found out after turning them on, that one part was burnt out.
Next, you want to plan how to run the lights so you can have an electrical outlet where you need it. If you don’t have a power source nearby, you can run an outdoor safe extension cord.
If you’re using your house exterior walls to hold part of the stringed lights, then you’ll want to get light clips or Q hangers to hold them in place. You usually see them around the holidays. We’ve also written about outdoor Christmas lights ideas if it’s that time of year for you.
If you’re looking for ways to hang string lights without nails, here are some ideas.
When you’re stringing the lights, wrap the wire around the hooks a couple of times for a little added strength. You can also choose to use cable ties to secure them. Some people will even use zip ties as well. Just know that zip ties will degrade over time from the sun exposure and start to break.
If you have outdoor rated lights, they sometimes also have little holes in the line to make this easier.
If you aren’t attaching them to the house, then you’ll want to figure out the size and shape you want for the lighted area. Then, you can put the 4x4s in the best spot. This is a great cheap landscaping idea to create over the weekend.
2. Using Metal Pole and PVC
The next method is similar but uses metal poles so it’s not as intrusive. Along with the written instructions, we put together a quick video as well.
Tools and Supplies Needed
- 10.5 foot vinyl coated pole. 1 3/8 inch diameter. We used this pole from Lowes
- These endcaps
- 1 10 foot PVC pipe 2 inches in diameter
- S hooks to secure the lights to the posts
- The lights you want to hang
- ladder for hanging the lights
- Mini sledge hammer to pound the PVC into the ground
You can cut the PVC down to 2 foot lengths and angle one side.
The angle makes it easier when hitting it into the ground. After hitting it into the ground some, you’ll have to pull it out to remove some of the dirt. You can easily do this by holding your hand over the PVC top to create a suction. The dirt will stay in the pipe while you pull it out and remove the dirt from the pipe.
Do this a couple of times to get the pipe as deep as you want it to go.
Now you can put the pole into the PVC pipe and it’s ready for the next step.
Note: Putting PVC pipe into the ground works great whether you have a deck or not. We have a ground level deck, so we pounded the PVC below the deck level to “hide” it. But, if you have a taller deck, you can add C clamps to hold the PVC pipe against your deck and then put the pole in that way.
We chose to put up three poles for the size of our deck area that we wanted to cover. The average length between all poles is about 13-15 feet.
Once we had all the poles in, it was time to string the lights.
Again, check that the lights work before hanging them. And make sure that you start with the right end that will get plugged into your outlet or you’ll have to redo it.
Ask me how I know 🙂
We laid out the string lights around the deck before hanging them to make sure we had enough lights for the project. We used the house for the light ends so we started at one end of the deck and hung the light end to the house.
Then we used a ladder to put the end cap on the pole and added metal hooks in the hole and added the lights to the S hook.
You can play with the slack in the lights and adjust to your desired height.
Once you run the lights to all the poles that you have, we finished it at the house and did pretty good with the lengths. We’ll probably add one more string of lights to go along the house exterior.
We like how this does a great job of outlining the deck and will make for beautiful lighting during our evening visits out there.
We’ve also noticed that backyard birds like to perch on the strings since they are larger.
Other Ideas For Hanging Your Lights Without a Tree
There are so many ways to get the lights up and we only showed two little ways we’ve done it. Here, I’ll share some other ways you could get your lights up by this evening.
3. Along the Fence Lighting
String lights along your fence. This adds so much depth and intimacy to your backyard. It’s also perfect way to showcase your backyard. Just make sure you have the power source for the outdoor string lights along the fence.
4. Deck Lighting
This was our last house and we loved the lighting around the deck. It was several levels so we just got some rope lighting that comes with mounting clips. We were able to string lights in one afternoon. The pic is grainy because phone cameras weren’t as good in 2007.
5. Gazebo or Pergola or Covered Patio String Lights
If you have a pergola or gazebo, you can string the lights around or inside the structures. Since we’ve recently built a covered patio, we’ll showcase how we hung our string lights in a new video soon on our YouTube channel.
6. String Lights on Umbrella
If you don’t have a gazebo, but you have an umbrella, you can add string lights to it. Then you can keep the umbrella open at night to showcase the lighting.
If you prefer, you can also look for umbrellas that already have integrated lighting in them. We love our cantilever umbrella with integrated solar led lights that we got from Lowe’s.
7. Use Planters to String Backyard Lights
We really debated on using our planters on the deck to string lights. We decided against it just because we like the lights to be much higher.
We also didn’t want to put that much weight on the planters we had since they were pretty short. If you do decide to use planters, make sure they are 3-4 feet tall. That way you can put at least 12 inches of concrete in the bottom of the planters and then add soil and plants on top of it.
We hope this article helped you with how to string lights in your backyard. If you’re looking for lighting ideas, take a look at our rope lighting ideas for your backyard.