Backyard DIY Series Part II

How to hang string lights on

Getting Started

I’m so excited to share Part 2 in our Backyard series (see Part 1 here) with you today AND to have Ryan takeover for the day. Like I mentioned last week, our backyard was his project, and it would be cruel to not let him show it off. Plus, he did some seriously amazing DIYs that you need to try this summer!

Today we are starting with the Canopy String Light DIY! And have no fear… after reading this post you will know exactly what to do, because not only is Ryan handy, he’s also thorough! You can just go ahead and thank your lucky stars that I’m not the one writing this! Ha! So, let’s get started… Ryan, show us how it’s done!


Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |

Hey Everyone, Ryan here! The real litmus test to know if a home project (DIY or otherwise) is worth the investment is whether you get the feeling that you don’t know how you ever did life without it. I’m sure there is a relationship or marriage metaphor in there somewhere, but that’s exactly how we felt about the lights. They make such a huge statement with our backyard ambiance. Early morning, dusk, evening, during rainstorms. We turn them on almost every chance we get!

Putting up the lights came with a few unexpected challenges, but overall it was a fairly simple DIY that can be completed by anyone in just a few simple steps and definitely within a day. Here’s how to start.


1) Do a little dreaming and sketching

The first thing we did was take a good look at our backyard. We took measurements and sketched out some options for how the lights could be laid out. While there are a number of ways we could have strung these lights over our backyard, we could only choose one. This post will just cover what we did. As you start your DIY, you may need to modify this plan to fit your unique circumstances. There’s a little work involved, but it’s not rocket science. You can do it!

Here’s one of my very rough sketches. The circle in the top left is our tree. The dotted lines are the runs of lights we hoped to put up. The numbers scribbled there are the approximate distances…etc…


Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |

^^^ Clearly, my artistic talents are not quite up to Ashley’s level!


2) Get These Materials


– about 80, 4″ Zip ties

150 feet of vinyl coated galvanized steel cable (buy it by the foot in store)

5 Stainless steel eyelets 

4 Ferrule & Stop sets 

5 Quick links 

– LED Lights (the most important part!)

***UPDATE 5/18/20*** The above materials are perfect for this project, but I just noticed that Amazon sells these Light Hanging Kits. I have looked into it and they are legitimate. They could save you a lot of time and work!

LED String Lights

– I used 4 sets of 24-foot canopy/string lights – I bought them on Amazon. The sets are $39.97 which I found to be the best value out there. A few of my bulbs went bad, but they have a lifetime warranty and Alpan’s customer service was very quick to send me replacements. I haven’t had another issue.

We chose LED lights because they don’t put out a lot of heat, and they use significantly less power. The bulbs also last longer so you don’t have to worry about replacing them every few months. LED anything is more expensive than traditional incandescent lighting, so we spent some time looking for affordable options.  So far they’ve worked wonderfully, and we feel great about not running up the electricity bill.


– Power drill

– Metal cutting snips or bolt cutters

Crimping tool (optional ““ I did not use one, but would have if I had seen this under $25 one!)


Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |

*NOTE – There are a few materials we don’t list above and here is why:
For our project, we had to do a little bit of electrical work to install a power outlet under my soffit and a switch inside my garage. The switch was really for convenience and is not required to have canopy lights. As for the wall outlet, our home is surprisingly lacking in outdoor power receptacles, so that was one challenge we were forced to overcome to make our string light dream a reality. All of that said, we’re not certified electricians and will not be advising or showing the electrical part of our project. Consult a professional electrician if you feel your situation requires any electrical work.


3) Place the Eyelets

Since we were connecting lights from our house to a central location at our lone backyard tree, that was my starting point (not pictured). We measured about 11.5 feet high so the lights would slope up from the house to the tree.

Next up, attaching the eyelets to the fascia on the house. Since we were running four lines from the house to the tree, we repeated this step four times.  If you have a setup where you can drill into your house or a stud behind the wall, that’s an even better way to go. We’ll likely go back and reinforce these connections in the near future.

Here we used the power drill and easily screwed in the 2 5/8″ Screw Eyelet from National Hardware.

Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |
Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |


4) Set the Steel Cable

The steel cable is not mandatory for some people, but it absolutely was for us. The biggest benefit is the cable will keep the string light cord from stretching out over time, prolonging the life of the lights. 

We ran four separate cable segments ““ each from the house to the tree.

-Loop the cable and feed it through the ferrule. We used metal snips to both cut the cable and crimp the ferrules. Bolt cutters work well for this too. A crimping tool is the official tool for crimping ferrules, but because of the light load on the cable, we felt more than comfortable using the snips.


Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |
Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |
Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |

Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |
Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |


Connect the looped end to one of your Quick Links


Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |


Connect the Quick Link to the eyelet. Do this on both ends of the line. Here you want to make sure the line has a little give but not too much. You don’t want the lights drooping and swinging too wildly in storms or windy weather. 


Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |
Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |


We used quick links for an easy takedown. We live in Central Florida where every few years we have an active hurricane season. I wanted to be able to take these lights down, if needed, at a moment’s notice. Using these quick links is one of a few ways to accomplish that, but it’s one of the easiest options. We got these from National Hardware, and you can also find them at Lowe’s. 


5. Secure Lights to the Cable

Phew! The cable portion is probably the most labor intensive, but with that all done you’re 80% there!

We placed two zip ties on the first and last lights on each strand for added security. One zip tie was fine for all the rest.

Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |

Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |
Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |


As you do this, carry scissors along with you and cut off the hanging end of each zip tie. That will make them as visually unobtrusive as possible.


6. Screw in the bulbs

This is pretty self-explanatory, and when you’re finished, take a deep breath.  You are DONE!

Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |
Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |


Hopefully, wherever you are the sun will be setting soon. Pour yourself some wine, plug in your string lights, sit back, and enjoy the scene for all it’s worth. 

If you do attempt this or something similar in your backyard, we’d love to hear about it! If you have any questions, feel free to put them in the comments section and I’ll make sure to answer them as best that I can.

Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |


Blogger Ashley Brooke's husband, Ryan, shares how to hang DIY string lights in your backyard! |

Our Porch Furniture



Planter Accent Hardware:


Blogger Ashley Brooke shares wow to add hardware to your planter! |


Lastly, many of you have asked about the accent corner braces we put on the planter. They came from our partners at National Hardware as well. We built the planter, and we thought it was great but still lacking something. National Hardware has a huge selection of hardware that can bring any part of your home to the next level. We found these braces which not only strengthen the box, but they are decorative as well. Sometimes it’s the simplest details that make the greatest difference, and we could not be more pleased! 

P.S. There will be a DIY post about building the planter AND what’s inside, so stay tuned!



Don’t miss the full Backyard DIY Series!

Part 1 – An Introduction (before & after pics included!)

Part 2 – How to hang String Lights

Part 3 – Backyard Entertaining (three best Summer cocktails!) 

Part 4 – How to Build a Cedar Wood Planter (and what to put in it)

Part 5 – How We Installed the Pavers & Gravel

Part 6 – How to Build a Simple Wood Deck


In Partnership with National Hardware

Photographed by Gregory Daniel


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  1. Thank you for sharing, your backyard is so lovely and these canopy lights are a great touch! I recently moved into a new home and it needs some major work to get the backyard cozier and more welcoming for guests. We installed a pergola and that made it look so much better, and we’re also getting a composite fence installed in the spring. I’m going to install some canopy lights in the meantime though!

  2. Ashley & Ryan, I’ve been looking at this for weeks now and I just went to the hardware store to get all of the supplies and plan to tackle this project this weekend. What size drill bit did y’all use for the pilot holes for the eyelet hooks?

    Thanks for providing this awesome post with so much detail. Can’t wait to see what the final product in our yard!


  3. Ryan, thanks for posting! Our backyard is set up the same way. Was looking for this exact set up. Wondering how to run the electrical in a continuous flow and there was your posting in the comments! Only issue I ran into was applying tension on the lines. Had to recut the SS line and create a new loop to bring more tension to the lines. Other than that, went together as you outlined. Thank you for the post!!

  4. Hi!! This is beautiful! I might be not understand completely but did you screw it into the tree too? I’m trying to figure out to hang string lights from my house, to the tree, then the tree to the other tree, then back to the house!

    • You must have some knowledge of polyolefins to ask about tensile strength! I am not sure of the tensile strength, but I have had to replace a handful of them.

  5. Great idea and thanks for the photos and the process explanation!! I planned to do something very similar over our deck/patio and our electrician warned us against running any kind of wire/cable from the house to a tree. He said if we were to get a bad wind storm where the tree started to sway a lot it may pull siding/fascia off the house, or as the tree continued to grown it would stretch that cable/wire to a point where it may do the same thing. How did you protect against this? Thanks.

  6. Hi Ryan – I’m reading that putting a nail/screw in a tree could harm the tree (and I’d like to ignore this information so I can hang my lights). 🙂 Any thoughts on this?

  7. Hi! How far apart are your bulbs? The link shows the bulbs 3ft apart, but yours look more like 12in in the pictures. Thanks!

  8. Hi,

    One end of our deck has the stucco wall which I can drill into. But for the other end I need a pole which will need to be attached to deck. Ideally I would like use a clamp to attach the pole to the deck rail, rather then drill the deck flooring to attach something that will hold the pole. Can you suggest where I can find the pole and clamp? Does anyone sell it? Thanks for your help!


  9. Thank you for not only a great description of how to above but also for answering your questions below! The questions we had were completely answered in the comment section. My husband and I will be doing this next weekend and are excited to do it!

  10. Hi Ashley,

    I love your patio lights, what a great job. Your garden looks amazing.
    I am wondering how you managed when there were too many lights at the end of a run. Can you explain what I’d need to do.
    Thanks Jo

  11. Your instructions were spot on! Thanks so much! We ordered our lights at Amazon and picked the add’l supplies up at HomeDepot. Broke a few bulbs and ended up using a hammer to “crimp” the thingy on the cable. Thank you for sharing the details from your project!

    • Mary – thank you for sharing how your project turned out. I love how you improvised and used a hammer to crimp the ferrule – I can completely relate to that! Cheers to enjoying your new space this Fall!

  12. Hi!
    I have the exact same setup, with the exact same lights.
    I’m confused how to get the 24′ of lights to fit in a 30′ length from the tree to the house. I know that may sound silly. Then, I also have a 17′ section from tree to house. What do I do with the excess lights?
    I’d really appreciate your input.

    • Hi Jennifer Jeanne!
      Thank you for your comment and the great question ; )

      I had to get creative to do this, but for that 30′ run, I had to start my second strand of lights part way through and just connected them. Here is a drawing of what I did. Lines #1 and #4 are the outside lines. Lines #3 and #2 are the inside lines. The power came from an outlet connected to a light switch in my garage. The power runs from #1 to #4, an extension cord then carries the power from the end of #4 to #2, and from #2 to #3. I realize reading this back to myself, it sounds crazy, so I hope this picture is helpful in conveying the point.

      In an ideal world the light switch in my garage would connect to multiple outlets under my roof soffit and I wouldn’t need the extension cord. But I was learning as I did all this and this is the way I set it up. It has worked flawlessly. If you use an extension cord outside for any reason, make sure it’s covered and use an outdoor rated one. Let me know how it goes and if you have any further questions!
      Ryan & Ashley Brooke

      • Hi Alyssum! Great question and my reply to the previous commenter will hopefully answer it. I included a sketch of how I connected the lights. If you have any further questions, definitely let me know!
        Ryan & Ashley Brooke

  13. What gauge wire did you use? Was it vinyl coated? And would you use the same one or a different gauge next time?

  14. Great work! I am impressed with your work and got some great ideas to hang string lights in the backyard. Thanks for sharing the wonderful article.

  15. Nice looking string lights. I understand that you added an electrical box in the soffit–great idea, but with the hand-drawn layout shown how did you get all the light strings to the power source. That can be a big challenge for many layouts.

    • Will, thanks and that’s a great question! You can see the box I installed into the soffit, but you’re right, I don’t show how I connected it all so that I am only using one power source. This may be tough to explain so I’ll work on a visual aid, but for now, imagine 4 light lines running from the tree to the house, from left to right (if you’re facing the tree), 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. Each line connects to a different point on the house going from left to right. The way I powered them is like this: lines 1 and 3 are part of the same strand (two 12-light strands). The “house” end of line 1 plugs into the outlet, the line goes to the tree and comes back to the house as line 3, where, at the end of it, I connected an outdoor extension cord and ran it under my the house fascia to the connection of line 4. Line 4 goes to the tree and comes back as line 2 and connects at the house. I feel ridiculous typing that out, but that’s how it’s done. Again, I’ll work on a diagram ; ) Let me know if that’s helpful at all!

  16. Hi Maegan, Thanks for reading and for the awesome questions! I’m excited to hear you guys are going to try this in your yard and can’t wait to hear how it goes. With regard to the water runoff, I’m not an expert on surface water drainage so I’ll be a little cautionary. The rocks are good for water sinking through, however, if that area sees a large amount and often there’s a good chance it will continue puddling. It may be a good opportunity to adjust the slope of that area so water flows down, perhaps away from your home to a midpoint between your properties. Just be sure your neighbor is cool with that and also try to find out how the builder initially graded the land to cope with surface water. I hope that’s at least a little helpful!

    For the lights, I wired an outlet in our roof soffit so we wouldn’t have any cords hanging down. I also added a switch in my garage so we can flip them on and off. If you can do that yourself, great! If not, it might not be a bad idea to pay an electrician to do it. In my opinion it’s 100% worth having. Here’s a picture of the soffit outlet: null

    Let me know if other questions come to mind!

  17. We have a similar set up in our backyard and are thinking of adding the pavers to the side to include a outdoor dining table. In that space, we currently have dead grass and some water runoff from our neighbors that puddles on our property. I’m thinking with the stone and pavers it could help with the puddling. Thoughts?

    Also, with us having a similar backyard, I am thinking about also adding the string lights. I’ve always loved the look, but never believed I could have them. How does your lights get power? Obviously they are plugged in, but what does that look like with the wire hanging down to the outlet? Just trying to get an idea.

    Thank you for all of this beautiful inspiration! My husband will be THRILLED with our upcoming outdoor projects!!

  18. So gorgeous! Where are those larger weathered looking pots from at the far end of your garden? They are exactly what I’m looking for!

      • Great photos, thank you. You have four list strings ranging from 15′ to 33′. You used 24′ light strings, how did you make up for the shortfall on the 33′ length and what did you do with extra length on the 15′ string ? I have lengths I need to cover of 34′ to 52′ lengths and am not sure how approach ?

        • Hi Andy,
          Great question and, to be honest, it took a little bit of rigging… See the comment and sketch I made for another commenter with the same question from FEBRUARY 12, 2019 below.

          Hope that helps – let me know if you have any further questions!

          • Ryan,
            Thank you. My question should have been about really matching the length you need vs the length of the 24′ sections of lights. Fir example, you have two sections of 15′ and 33′, you must have used one 24′ length and one 48′ length. What do you do with the extra footage of the light strings ?

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