All of our secrets...about Outdoor Lights!
photography by Saleina Marie Photography
These summer nights are some of my favorites. The air is still warm and the sun goes down a little earlier, making an evening under the lights with dinner and glasses of wine even more perfect. I've decided that outdoor lighting is a whole lot like Christmas Lights - they bring the magic. Whether you'd like them in your garden, over your deck, or in your yard, here are all of our secrets on how to add lights to your outdoor spaces!
#1 : stick to one kind : I know it's tempting to start digging through all of the boxes of old Christmas lights and lights you used for that one birthday party and then add in a few other strands you picked up to fill in...but believe me you'll be happier if you keep it clean and for this part, not eclectic. I'm the queen of all the things eclectic, just not with the lights.
#2 : map out your space : help yourself out a little bit and walk the area you'd like to hang the lights. Where will you be attaching them? Do you need to add poles or posts to hang them on? Will they be hanging from trees, your house, deck posts. Now decide what 'pattern' they'll be hanging in. Will they be criss-crossing back and forth over the space, or hanging around the perimeter?
#3 : walk it out : Now that you have a general idea of the map of where they'll be hanging, do a little measureing. You don't need a hard fast number, but you will want to know an estimate of how many feet you'll be covering. Don't forget to take into account extra feet for the lights to drape - they look much more inviting if they are not pulled tight. Side note - the light strands will stretch a bit once they are hung so when you install them hang them a bit higher/tighter than you are hoping for. The cords relax and stretch out a bit after they are hanging up.
#4 : make an investment : There are lots and lots of lights on the market. You don't need to spend a fortune, the key is to get all the same kind. I prefer globe lights because there are more lights per strand, they come in all sorts of lengths, the bulbs are easy to source for replacements and the strands do not weigh too much which makes them easier to hang on branches and posts. Globe lights can only be connected to 1 or 2 other strands before they start blowing fuses and tripping circuits. So, I suggest that you purchase the longer 100 foot strands. Here are the ones we use: 100 bulb strands! They are not the highest quality light bulbs but as long as you're gentle with them they'll last for several seasons. We put them up in the beginning of the summer and leave them up until the beginning of October without any issues. For replacements I purchase packs of the bulbs when they're on sale - or I find the smaller strands of globe lights for really great prices all throughout the year and simply use the bulbs as replacements (hint...look at the end of seasons, they package globe lights in every type of box : dorm lights, garden lights, Christmas lights, easter lights...you get the point - basically there is always a box of 15-25 light strands on sale).
#5 : extension cords + fuses : here is another reason I suggest going with the long 100 bulb strands...you won't need to run as many extension cords. There is nothing worse than extra cords hanging everywhere! Plus, give yourself a little extra gift and buy extensions cords that will blend into the area. We have super long green extension cords that hide in the tree and greenery as they run back to the house. Now, if you plug the strands in and they aren't working...don't panic, it's probably the fuse. The strands come with extra fuses so keep those handy - you will most definitely need them. The fuses blow more frequently than the bulbs so I always have some on back up.
#6 : get a buddy : it is way easier to hang these lights with a friend. Since the bulbs are a little fragile and the strands are long, you'll be glad to have someone helping you! I like to have the strands hanging at various heights, some draping lower in areas where you do not need to walk under and higher in the higher traffic areas.
Now fill your space and enjoy an evening under the lights - you're going to want to stay out there until the first day of winter, so bring refreshments!