Installing an outdoor lighting system is a wonderful way to add beauty and style to one’s home.  After the sun sets it creates a warm, inviting environment and allows one to enjoy the outdoor space well into the night.  From inside the home, it can bring joy when looked out through the windows, and lighting in the front yard creates enviable curb appeal from the street.

One light fixture type homeowners often inquire about are bistro lights, also called string lights.  This can be great for defining an outdoor living or dining area and can be used during dinner parties or just when lounging outside listening to the crickets chirp.  Below are some tips for creating an inviting space using bistro lights.


 There are many different ways bistro lights can be laid out over a gathering space.  In the end, it’s all about being creative and designing a space that you love and will use for years to come!  However, proper planning will ensure your light installation will go quickly and without a hitch.  An important thing to note is how long the lighting will be so you know how many light sets will be required for installation.  Most string light sets are about 25′ long.

Here are a few layout options to consider:

  • Perimeter: Hang the string lights along the perimeter of the gathering area, whether the area is a square, octagon, or some other random shape. This is a relatively easy design solution and will help define the outdoor space nicely.
  • Rows: Hang multiple strands of lights in straight rows for a clean modern look that will bring tons of light to your outdoor space. When you do this try to make sure the light bulbs in each row alternate evenly.  For a more casual look hang the strands loosely to make gentle arcs.
  • The “X” factor: For a relatively quick and easy installation, hang two strands of bistro lights in an “X” formation directly above the designated gathering area. It will indicate exactly where people are welcome to sit and relax and will provide plenty of overhead lighting.
  • Zig-zag: The zig-zag layout is another somewhat informal style that is usually hung loosely for a more casual look. You can try to perfectly space each zig-zag, or be a little more imprecise and hang the points of the zig-zag where it’s most convenient, such as on the nearest tree, a post of a pergola, or side of the house.

Choosing the Right Lights

More often than not, homeowners will go out and purchase string lights from their nearby hardware store, plug them into an exterior outlet, and string them up in about one afternoon.  While that sounds convenient enough, these types of lights unfortunately are not typically built to last and will often begin to fail within a year or two.  Here at Blessing Landscapes, we use only the best LED low voltage outdoor lighting systems which include an Edison Bulb style bistro light set.  These string lights which are manufactured by Unique Lighting are built to last many years, come with a manufacturer’s warranty, and use less electricity than traditional incandescent lighting systems.  They are wired to a transformer which acts as the controller for the lights and is plugged into an available exterior outlet.  The transformer comes with an astronomical timer, meaning the lights turn off and on automatically at sunrise and sunset at the correct time every day of the year.  The transformer can also be upgraded to allow you to control the intensity of the light, which is handy if you want to be able to create some mood lighting for quiet evenings.