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How to Hang Outdoor String Lights

When Adam and I were designing our home we purposely enclosed the backyard, making it a courtyard that is surrounded by the house and garage on three sides. We plan to put a tiny little irrigated lawn in that area (the only way to keep grass alive in Texas) and have the rest of the property be native.

backyard progress

Over this part of the backyard I wanted to add pretty string lights…because no one looks at the photo below and thinks “no thanks”.

outdoor string lights

I originally wanted them romantically swagged back and forth, but there are really only two points of contact opposite the porch….and while I don’t think string lights have to be perfectly spaced, ours would have been really wonky. So instead we decided to just do two straight lines between our master bedroom, garage, and breezeway. When you are stringing lights across a 75 foot span to include a mid-air 90 degree turn, you can’t just go for it with the lights…you have to add some steel wire to support them first.

DIY hanging string lights

So we bought two cable kits from Amazon and attached the wire to the rafters using eye hooks, and along the way we discovered a cool new product called the Gripple.


So in the past we have always attached our wire the traditional way, using little metal pieces that you slip over the wire and squish to hold the wire loop in place. I know that’s confusing, here is a picture from our old kitchen so you can see what I’m talking about….

cable shelf supports

That way was a pain, you had to buy a special squishier tool and it only work about 50% of the time. The Gripple replaces all that and makes attaching wire a 10 second process that is fail proof and requires no special tools. You just slip to over the wire and it holds everything tight on its own, and according to the package it will hold like 600 pounds or something ridiculous. Here is one in action at our 90 degree turn…

outdoor cables

Once all the wire was suspended it was time to add the lights. We chose these Better Homes and Gardens cafe string lights.

Better Homes and Gardens string lights

Better Homes and Gardens makes a ton of different kinds, from a 20 count strand for under $10, to edison bulbs, mercury glass, and stars…but we chose a 12 count of lights for $34 because they are LED. My husband is all about LED these days… they are bright, never burn out, and use so little energy that they are practically free to use.

We attached them to the wire with zip ties, and it was a family affair (minus one sleeping toddler).

hanging outdoor lights

outdoor lights

The bulbs on this set are plastic, which when I first opened the box I was like “Well that’s cheesy”, but then I thought about it and it’s actually genius. I mean, the last thing I need is my boys hitting them with a ball or something (guaranteed to happen at least 1000 times) and having to go pick glass shards out of the yard before someone impales themselves.

plastic bulbs

When we were finished stringing them Adam and I stood back and looked at them, and he was like “What do you think?’ and I was like “I think it looks like there are wires all over my backyard.”

how to get outdoor string lights to not sag

how to hang Edison bulb string lights

(That last picture has nothing to do with anything, I just though the kittens looked too cute not to document.)

But then the sun began to set and things started to get magical.

how to correctly hang outdoor string lights

And by the time it was completely dark I decided I loved them.

texas backyard

Trust me when I say they look better in real life. I wish I was good at photography and I could capture that cool soft glow bokeh effect, but instead I suck at photography and you get the ‘ol streaky light effect.

summer nights

They really are pretty though, and will be great for late summer nights and parties with family and friends.  One day soon we will get around to installing grass, and then the backyard will look more like a legitimate backyard and less like a well-lit, magical mud pit.

well-lit backyard




For even more inspiration follow Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

*This post was sponsored by the BHG Live Better Network. All opinions are 100% my own.

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  1. …..KITTENS???

    LOL the string lights are really pretty. And I think you could now romantically swag some back and forth between the two strings and the eaves if you still wanted that. It’s going to be so nice out there in the evenings when your grass is done!

    1. Yeah, two kittens. I wrote about them in the “December” part of my year in review post (I’ll link it below). My boys really wanted a puppy and I really wanted to NOT get a puppy, so we got two kittens. They are great and follow the boys around the yard just like a puppy would, but they are also nearly zero maintenance (they are outdoor cats).

      1. You know what? I totally did read that. I think I just forgot because there was so much in your December post. They are very cute!

    1. Seriously, it was a pit full of rocks last week, so I’m loving the dirt and the fact that I can now let my toddler outside without fear of imminent death by boulder. Yay progress!

  2. I second that…KITTENS? Do tell. The lights look great! That will be great during the summer months, well, all year, in central Texas.

    1. We got two (siblings) for the boys for Christmas. They named siamese one Smokey and the tabby Maiza (pronounced maze-ah, because the stripes look like a maze and it’s a girl.)

    1. Dude, if you find something to control the mosquitoes you let me know! I swell up huge and itch for at least a week from mosquito bites…I’d rather get stung by a scorpion!

      1. My husband Andrew bought this thing: Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Outdoor and Camping Repeller Device
        We don’t think it works very well though. =/ Minnesota mosquitoes are evil. I have considered putting up a ton of bat houses around my porch. =)

      2. My dad installed a really intense propane powered mesquito killer in his backyard in San Antonio and it made a HUGE difference. I was never able to go outside without getting bit, and now it’s nearly mesquito free! I can ask him what the contraption is called!

  3. Dem lights! Dem kittehs! I loves it all! I am a huuuuge fan of purty lights outside. I have a ton of them, so many the neighbours think we are hosting an International Night Cricket game between India and Australia. I am sure I heard them cheering ‘It’s a SIX!” when I tossed a rock at a massive mozzie the other night. (I’ll save you googling it; it’s when the batsman the hitter, whacks the cricket ball allllllll the way over to the edge of the bloody huge oval area of the playing field. Means he can run between the wickets, end bits of the long section and hence earn 6 runs between them. Get it? Nah, neither do I. I hate cricket!)
    I use either citronella candles or mosquito coils which are not the chemical ones but organic. We get too many days in summer here to light the candle one, and like you, I blow up like a blimp and itch like a flea infested dog for weeks if I get bit. Most people here use Mozzie Zappers but they are electric and spoil the mood when you hear ffffffzzzztZAP! all evening.
    Can’t wait to see the lawn in all its glory,

  4. Those look great– and from experience, plastic is the way to go. I bought like 5 boxes of adorable glass string lights and one strong gust of wind took out more than half of them. womp womp.

  5. Your talent makes me sin! Covet, covet, covet!!!! But I will try to be happy for you. Happy that God has gifted you so! Your place really is beautiful. Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  6. Love the kitties! Two kittens are definitely better than one :) Long time reader here.. is Pretzel still with you?

    1. Oh man, you are a long time reader! No, Pretzel isn’t around anymore. Well, that’s not really true, here is the story…
      So after Levi (boy #2) was born she wan’t getting nearly as much attention as she used to, and when my brother-in-law and his wife said they wanted a little dog (but not a puppy) I offered them Pretzel. So she became their dog, and has been throughly spoiled by them (they don’t plan on having kids) for five years now. She still comes over to visit regularly and my boys love her. It was a good decision all around.

  7. have you had a problem with the lights getting moisture in the bulb and stop working like we have, on second set of lights. they are also LED

  8. Guess this is how often your gonna do this blog anymore? No worries. I’ve un-bookmarked this ghost town blog.

    1. Yes, probably. I have four small kids, a husband that works crazy hours, and run this blog by myself in my free time. Posts on this blog have always been sporadic and will continue to be.

  9. I love string lights. You know my house always organized by some beautiful string light. They are looks so pretty. But didn’t know how to organize them properly like you. After reading your article I get some idea about how to hand them properly. Definitely will look your next post for sure:)

  10. Thanks for posting the nitty-gritty details, like using the Gripply. We are planning to add string lights to our cabin in northern MN and were looking for ideas and pictures. This helps a lot!

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