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Outdoor Ambience: Strings of Light

Need a quick and comparatively inexpensive way to add a little nighttime ambience to your yard, porch and patio? I’ve always been inspired by Disneyland’s year-round white lights on their park trees and buildings. You can bring a little of that magic to your world by stringing strands of lights in your own yard.

To save money and re-purpose what you already have, you can re-use your traditional white Christmas tree lights (yes, even in the summer), or get a little fancy with specialty themed lights! Whatever look you choose, it will definitely add a lot of charm and ambience to your patio or walk ways!

I found some charming specialty string lights from Smith & Hawken online:

Outdoor Ambience: Strings of Light

Outdoor Ambience: Strings of Light

Outdoor Ambience: Strings of Light

These lights are perfect for summer patio entertaining and a fun way to create a magical outdoor scene from your windows at night! You can even put them on a timer if you want to enjoy the lights for short periods of time after dark. I’ve seen variations of these string lights at Target and other discount stores, so look around and see what you can find! I love the magical look of white lights outside!

photo inspiration (top) Cottage Living via My Home Ideas
last three images: Smith & Hawken


  1. Emily

    I want to put lights up on our pergola but we need to get power outside first. Minor detail :)

  2. Donna at Funky Junk Interiors

    At my favorite campsite, I’ve always twisted white lights around a nearby big tree, from top to bottom, and left them on all night for that nightlight glow to spot critters and whatnot. My plan for home is to string the lights right around my patio roofline. It really creates an inviting feeling, beckoning you towards it!

    My last home that wore a wrap around veranda, same thing. I never turned on the typical wall lights. Plug the strings in and the entire porch illuminated with that soft glow. It’s an awesome effect!

    Donna at Funky Junk Interiorss inspiring blog post..The Birdie Hotel – addition to the birdhouse garden

  3. lilyhaven

    Beautiful! There’s nothing more romantic than a row of twinkling lights in a garden. I love it. :)

    lilyhavens inspiring blog post..By the Seashore

  4. Marian

    I love lights in my garden too. I esp. LOVE the bee, so sweet! I never saw those here though…

    Marians inspiring blog post..A lovely day at the market

  5. Adrienne

    I love the look of lights outside. We have tiny ‘built-in’ blue lights in each spoke of our patio umbrella and I have plans to have lights around the pergola around the hot tub – when we get it built. My neighbor across the street has a gorgeous Clematis that blooms about this time of year. She leaves the twisted brown branches up the side and across the front of her porch year-round – decorated with little white lights. It’s such a welcoming and friendly look.

    Adriennes inspiring blog post..Memorial Day Prayer

  6. gail gray of a fresh start professional organizing

    What a beautiful addition to landscape. When done well, this won’t look like you haven’t gotten around to taking down your Christmas lights. Lighting is a very important part of landscape, and this can be a fun and inexpensive way to achieve a beautiful look!

  7. RML

    I am a big fan of fairy lights and I think something like this is what I need to finish off my balcony. Thanks for the inspiration.

    RMLs inspiring blog post..Edit, Add and Appreciate Sunday

  8. Brenda Kula

    I like this also. Especially the bee lights! I need to order some of those. Makes the spot look ever so cozy!

    Brenda Kulas inspiring blog post..Outdoor Decorating Ideas

  9. Arleen

    Hi Melissa. Oh, those lights are so charming! When I was a child, I used to spend a couple of weeks each summer at a cottage owned by a family member. The cottage was in the corner of an orchard, and right outside the front porch was a huge tree. There were always little lights on that tree, which made for some very lovely evenings filled with friends, music, and laughter. Your post has reminded me of those sweet memories. Thank you, and enjoy your weekend! ~Arleen

    Arleen @ Seasons for All at Homes inspiring blog post..Inspiration ~ Decorating Summer Porches & Sun Rooms

  10. Bonnie Mattson

    I just love light~all kinds of light and I am really in love with the white lights outside. We host at least one wedding here at our home a year and over the years we have inherited some great ones. It just adds so much magic to the night and is so enjoyable to look out upon even from the house. I hope things are better for you, Melissa! I have got to get a post over the BD one of these days!

    Hugs, Bonnie

    Bonnie Mattsons inspiring blog post..Room With A Past

  11. Christi

    Melissa – just a quick note to say that they have the EXACT bumblebee lights at Wal-Mart for $10 for 10-light strands that S & H is charging $39 for. So, it is affordable to have them. They are Better Homes & Garden.

  12. Heathahlee

    I love those lights! The bee ones are just too cute. I wish I had an area outside to string lights, but my patio is bare and we have no trees back there. I guess that means I have to be creative! : )

    Heathahlees inspiring blog post..All those tassels….

  13. Astrid

    I just put up a simple strand of white lights in my gazebo! It just adds that little bit of Ahhhhh…

    Astrids inspiring blog post..Meet My Pretty Little Friend!

  14. LeAnn

    I have always wanted outdoor lights. Last year for the 4th of July, I hung little flag lights across the front of my porch. Someday I am going to have either a deck or a patio and it will definitely have lights. Great post.

    P.S. I hope you are feeling better about your house sale. Things will work out. Don’t give up.

    LeAnns inspiring blog post..Summer style!!

  15. living with lindsay

    I love outdoor lights! Someone in our old neighborhood had tons of them in their backyard trees. We could see them over the fence, but not actually into the backyard, so I had to imagine how beautiful and magical the entire backyard must have been. I always imagined that they held huge parties out there. :)

  16. Renae

    I adore those…, especially the dragon flys…so where did you plug them in?

    Renaes inspiring blog post..HONOR

  17. Kim

    I love lights! We’ve used white Christmas light and nicer lights. Right now we are getting ready to change our lights back to Christmas lights because the glow from them is very soft and not too bright. And they’re so cheap! Great post Melissa!


    Kim @ Everything Etsys inspiring blog post..A Kimba Made Giveaway!

  18. Loretta

    You are so right – they transform any space into a party!

    We have the dragonfly lights on our screened porch and the highlight of the spring is the first night we light them.

    Your blog is so wonderful – so many great ideas and inspiring posts!

    Lorettas inspiring blog post..City Dogs

  19. Vee

    Nothing more charming than outside lights. I have some built-in ones on my patio umbrella that are so nice at night. I like to put them on even when we’re in the house.

    Vees inspiring blog post..Memorial Day Scenes About Town

  20. anne

    Hi Melissa these are stunning … love the dragon fly ones at the bottom :-)

    annes inspiring blog post..Another ……

  21. Debbykay

    I just love white lights in the gardens! We have them up year round on the pergola, arbors, selected shrubs and trees. On the white pergola and arbors, we use the small white lights with white wires(which can be a bit harder to find) and on the trees, shrubs and rustic arbor we use the white lights with green wire. We have all the lights set on timers so that we can enjoy them every night. I love coming home from the office to see our little Rose Cottage lit with garden twinkle lights–it makes the house look so charming and welcomes me home. I feel like we are at someplace special and magical every night!

    This past week, the white twinkle lights in the pink flowering crab made the gardens look like a fairy land! It really was so romantic–twinkling stars amongst pink fluffy clouds! I have some photos posted on my blog if you want to take a look (check out “Night Magic”).

    The lights are an inexpensive way to create ambience. What a way to create a romantic evening without breaking the bank! The lights will really set the mood for a lovely party, too!

    Debbykay at Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm

    Debbykays inspiring blog post..Lovely Lilacs {sweet morning fragrances

  22. Gina

    I love these! We’ve got a few strands strung around our back porch, it adds so much to the feel of our yard. I’m always trying to think of other places to stick them-the ones you’ve got here from Smith & Hawkin are beautiful!

    Ginas inspiring blog post..Amazing Goodwill Finds

  23. Susan

    Hi Melissa,
    Thanks for stopping by…aren’t these lights just the cutest ever! I love those little touches of whimsy! I was lucky enough to find the dragonfly lights on sale 20% off in the local S & H store that’s a couple of miles from my home. They are bit pricey online…but still worth it. Mine have lasted well for two years and I burn them almost every night during the summer months. I’ve had two folks leave comments asking why I have a Christmas tree on my porch, though! LOL I think I’ll need to post and show folks that it’s in an urn and not exactly a Christmas tree. :-) Love your blog!

    Susans inspiring blog post..Welcome to the 19th Metamorphosis Monday and Sunday Favorites!

  24. Marie

    I love the lights strung on the trees along the walkway! Thank you for the inspiration – I would like to do something similar at my home.

    Maries inspiring blog post..Memorial Day thank-you

  25. nel

    I love lights in the garden and have seen the dragonfly ones in the shops and been very tempted to buy them! Lovely pictures.

    nels inspiring blog post..memories of home life

  26. Pretty Organizer

    Hey sweetie… how’s the decorating going? Hope you’re cheering up… I know you can make Builder Beige look like Designer’s Delight in no time.

    I love the white light look. I need bigger trees to get the right effect out back. Darn things don’t grow well in the AZ heat.

  27. Rona

    These lights would look great in our home. I would probably put them in our gathering room.
    Thank you for the inspiration!

    Ronas inspiring blog post..Lastest Status on Outpatient Rehab

  28. Katee Grace

    I am in love with those bumble bee lights!!! Those are darling!!!
    Jewls from JewlsSandCastle reminded me about you tonight and I am so happy!
    You have some lovely lovely posts!!!
    You have quite the eye.

    Katee Graces inspiring blog post..Kenyon Sports Conditioning


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