Outdoor lighting has evolved tremendously over the years. Once limited mostly to floodlights and security lamps, exterior illumination now includes a vast array of stylish and innovative fixtures that can transform any outdoor space. One of the hottest trends is the use of pendant lights, chandeliers, and sconces mounted in trees and overhead structures outside. Let’s take a closer look at how and why light fixtures are taking to the branches.

Reasons for the Growing Popularity of Hanging Outdoor Light Fixtures

There are several factors driving the popularity of pendant, chandelier, and sconce lighting outdoors:

  • Ambiance: Nothing sets a mood quite like lighting. Hanging fixtures in trees or under a patio or pergola provides soft, warm illumination perfect for creating an inviting ambiance for evening dinners, parties, or just relaxing. The lighting can be adjusted for brightness as needed.
  • Aesthetics: Light fixtures today come in such a wide range of stylish designs, from elegant crystal chandeliers to modern metallic pendants. Using them outside adds a decorative focal point and visual interest, especially when illuminating a dining or seating area.
  • Flexibility: Hanging lights allow for targeted light placement and easy repositioning if plans change for how an outdoor space will be used. Wiring can usually be fairly easily run overhead.
  • Energy efficiency: Many outdoor light fixtures today use LED bulbs which last longer and use less energy than traditional incandescents. Less energy used reduces costs and environmental impact.

Tips for Pulling Off the Trend

When working light fixtures into an outdoor setup, keep these tips in mind:

  • Carefully measure the space first to select the proper size and number of fixtures. You want adequate lighting but avoid an overly bright or cluttered look.
  • For string lights, use commercial-grade versions outdoors. They are more durable and safer for exterior use.
  • Use high-quality, exterior-rated light fixtures made of material like weather-resistant steel or aluminum.
  • Have a professional electrician install and connect any wiring to ensure proper codes and safety.
  • For tree mounting, use hooks, eye bolts, or other hardware designed not to damage the bark and tree.
  • Position fixtures to avoid glare and shine light where most needed, like over a table or seating area.
  • Use smart technology so lights can be controlled remotely and scheduled. This adds convenience and saves energy.

Best Places to Use Hanging Lights Outdoors

Hanging light fixtures outside can be used in many different areas:

  • Patio or deck: String lights or single pendants over a seating area provide ambiance for dining and relaxing. For safety, hang lights high enough to avoid bumping heads.
  • Pergola or gazebo: A small chandelier or lantern hangs nicely in the center of a pergola. Separate fixtures can also be used over each corner.
  • Yard and garden: Path lighting or accent lighting in trees helps highlight landscaping and creates drama. Go for uplighting or downlighting.
  • Driveway or walkway: Light the way and add flair by lining the sides with sconces or placing pendants along the path at intervals.
  • Above garage or door: Welcome guests with light! A pretty pendant or lantern flanking an entryway helps identify and illuminate it.

Types of Lighting to Consider

Many kinds of light fixtures work beautifully outdoors:

  • Pendant lighting: Pendants directly line up with an area below, focus the light, and come in endless styles. Mini-pendants are great over tables.
  • Chandeliers: For large areas, chandeliers make a sparkling statement. Opt for all-weather chandeliers with plastic beads or LED bulbs.
  • Sconces: Useful for lighting steps, walkways and perimeter areas. Sconces with downlighting provide ambient glow while path lighting guides the way.
  • Lanterns: Charming on porches or along paths, old-fashioned lanterns have vintage appeal. Their cutouts cast pretty patterns.
  • String lights: Festive strings can be mounted overhead permanently and are ideal for soft light. Choose durable, commercial-grade strands.

Setting the Mood with Hanging Lights

The possibilities are endless when creating an ambiance using mounted light fixtures outside. Here are some ideas:

  • Warm and welcoming – A front walkway lined with short post lanterns lights the way while conveying charm and welcome. Amber-hued bulbs keep the look cozy.
  • Light and airy – Tiny white string lights winding through tree branches or crisscrossing a pergola feels whimsical and ethereal, especially on warm summer nights.
  • Soft and romantic – Hang a sparkling crystal chandelier under a canopy of trees and illuminate with candles for a magical intimate dining experience full of ambiance.
  • Bold and lively – Suspend brightly-colored modern pendants like red, citron, or cobalt over an outdoor bar or kitchen. The fun colors energize the space.

Maintenance Tips to Keep Fixtures Looking Their Best

The outdoor elements can take a toll. Here are some ways to keep light fixtures in good shape:

  • Wipe down fixtures and glass to remove dirt, grime, and debris on a regular basis. Use mild soap and water.
  • Check for any loosening or defects in the hanging hardware or electrical connections and repair immediately.
  • Inspect wires for damage like cracking or fraying. Replace compromised wires.
  • Use plastic, acrylic, or outdoor-rated chandelier sleeves to protect fixtures and prevent moisture damage.
  • Bring in hanging lights before extreme weather or store them covered to prevent harsh wind, rain, snow, or ice damage.
  • Consider taking down string lighting in the off seasons or investing in commercial grade strings that can stay up year-round in most climates.

Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space with Hanging Lights

Light fixtures in trees and overhead structures create such a magical effect outside. They provide the perfect ambiance for your deck, patio, pergola, or any other exterior living space while also serving as a beautiful decorative element. Just be sure to select durable fixtures made for outdoor use and properly install them. With the right hanging lights, your outdoor area will not only be illuminated but will truly shine. So look upwards and start envisioning the dazzling ways you can use light fixtures to transform your outdoor space this season!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using hanging light fixtures outside?

Hanging light fixtures outside provides ambiance, aesthetics, and flexibility for lighting outdoor spaces like patios, pergolas, yards, walkways, and driveways. They allow targeted light placement and create mood and visual interest.

What lighting options work well outdoors?

Good outdoor options include pendant lights, chandeliers, sconces, lanterns, post lights, path lighting, string lights, and spotlights/floodlights. Choose fixtures rated for outdoor use.

What’s the best way to install lighting in trees?

Use eye bolts, hooks, or other hardware designed not to damage bark. Avoid nails. Run wiring neatly along branches versus hammering it in. Take care not to wound or stress trees.

What maintenance is required for outdoor hanging lights?

Maintenance tips include cleaning fixtures regularly, inspecting hardware/wiring and replacing if needed, using weather protective sleeves, and storing light fixtures properly during extreme weather or off seasons.

Should you take down string lights in the winter?

It’s best to take down regular string lights in winter weather and store them covered and protected. For year-round use, invest in durable, commercial-grade string lights rated for permanent outdoor installation.


Hanging light fixtures take outdoor illumination from ordinary to extraordinary. Pendants, chandeliers, sconces, and string lights allow creativity in placing lighting just where you want it over patios, in trees, along pathways, and more. The possibilities are endless for using light fixtures to enhance ambiance and create an inviting mood outside. Just be sure to choose weather-resistant fixtures and have lighting professionally installed. With the right blend of lighting in the branches overhead, your outdoor living space will truly shine!