How to Safely Hang String Lights for a Stunning Pool Ambience in Your Canadian Backyard

String lights can transform your pool area into a magical, twinkling oasis. But, the process of hanging these lights isn’t just about aesthetics. It’s also about safety. While it’s tempting to drape lights directly over your pool, this can lead to dangerous, even lethal, situations if live wires end up in the water.

If you’re planning to enhance your pool with the soft glow of string lights, it’s crucial to hang them thoughtfully and securely. Avoid hanging them directly over the pool. Instead, position them around the perimeter, far enough away to eliminate any risk of electrical mishaps.

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a novice, hanging string lights around your pool is a project you can tackle. This guide will provide you with simple, step-by-step instructions on how to safely and effectively light up your pool area. Let’s dive in and get started on creating that picture-perfect poolside ambiance.

Step 1: Determine the Desired Lighting Design

Well-planned lighting designs can transform your pool area into a magical sanctuary. The following steps will guide you through this process.

Consider the Pool Layout and Size

The first step to a flawless patio light design is understanding the dimensions of your space. Sketch out a rough outline of the area where you plan to hang the lights. Be sure to jot down measurements for future reference.

Choose the Type of String Lights

Choosing the right type of lights to complement your space is crucial. You should stay mindful of the type, style, and grade of the lights you plan to hang. Consider the number of strings required as well. Keep in mind that string lights come in various lengths.

Decide on the Hanging Pattern

The hanging pattern is another essential element of your patio light design. The natural curve created by the strings adds to the appeal of patio string lights. To accommodate the swag in your light strings, add 2 – 6 feet of length to your measurements.

As with all projects involving electricity near water, safety is paramount. As such, you need to figure out how much lighting you need for safety, ambiance, and general nighttime patio usability.

Lastly, position your outdoor lights strategically to maximise their effect. Ensure you choose locations with nearby surfaces to reflect your pool deck lighting. Without proper positioning, your lighting won’t have much effect.

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Materials and Tools

Before you embark on your mission to transform your pool area into an enchanting paradise, it’s essential to arm yourself with the right tools and materials. Here’s what you’ll need:

String Lights

Your choice of string lights sets the mood for your pool area. Choose LED string lights for a long-lasting, energy-efficient option. Or, opt for solar-powered lights for an eco-friendly alternative. It’s crucial to ensure that your chosen lights are designed for outdoor use, to withstand various weather conditions.

Outdoor-Rated Extension Cords

Depending on the expanse of your pool area, you might need outdoor-rated extension cords. These cords are designed to resist weathering and can safely provide electricity to your string lights. Remember, safety first!

Zip Ties or Hooks

To fasten your string lights, you’ll need either zip ties or hooks. Zip ties are a great choice for a quick, easy installation, while hooks offer more flexibility if you plan to change the arrangement of the lights.

Ladder or Step Stool

A ladder or step stool is an essential tool to reach higher areas. Ensure it’s sturdy and safe to use – you don’t want any mishaps while hanging your lights.

Tape Measure

A tape measure is necessary to calculate the distance between each light and maintain symmetry in your design. It helps to create a balanced and harmonious look.

Pencil or Chalk

Lastly, a pencil or chalk comes in handy to mark the spots where you plan to hang the lights. This step ensures you have a clear path to follow during the installation process.

A pool with string lights in the background.

Step 3: Plan the Placement of the String Lights

Well done on your progress. Now that you’ve selected your string lights and gathered all the necessary tools, it’s time to plan the placement of each light around your pool.

Determine the Starting and Ending Points

Firstly, identify the starting and ending points. These points could be a wall, a tree, or a post, depending on your chosen design. It’s crucial that both points are sturdy enough to support the weight of the string lights.

Measure and Mark the Positions for Each Light

Next, grab your tape measure and pencil. Measure the distance between the starting and ending points. Keep in mind that string lights should sag slightly for an aesthetically pleasing effect. Mark the positions of each light to ensure even spacing. This step will save time during the installation process and ensure a symmetrical result.

Consider the Distance Between Lights

Lastly, consider the distance between each light. Closer placement creates a brighter, more festive atmosphere, while a greater distance between lights offers a more subtle, romantic ambiance.

Remember, the goal is to enhance your pool area’s aesthetic appeal, not to illuminate it as brightly as possible. So, take your time in planning the layout, and you’ll be one step closer to achieving a picture-perfect ambiance that’s sure to impress.

Step 4: Install the Anchor Points

Now that your design is in place, it’s time to start the installation process. A crucial part of this is setting up your anchor points. These are the points where your string lights will be attached to create the desired pattern. The more secure your anchor points, the safer and longer-lasting your setup will be.

Choose Appropriate Anchor Points

Your first task is to identify suitable anchor points. These could be sturdy tree branches, fence posts, or even your house’s eaves. They need to be strong enough to support the weight of the string lights, and be positioned in a way that allows your desired design to become a reality. Keep in mind, the sturdier your anchor points, the less likely it is your setup will be affected by wind or other weather conditions.

Install Hooks or Anchor Screws

Once you’ve identified your anchor points, you’ll need to install hooks or screws. Opt for outdoor-rated hooks or screws to ensure they stand up to the elements. Attach them at the marked points using a drill or screwdriver, ensuring they’re secure and ready to support the string lights.

Attach Zip Ties to Secure String Lights

With hooks or screws in place, you’re ready to secure your string lights. Zip ties are a great tool for this. Simply loop the zip tie through the hole on the string light clip, then secure it around the hook or screw. Tighten the zip tie until it’s snug, but be careful not to over-tighten and damage the string light wire. Repeat for each light, ensuring a consistent and secure setup.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority. Always follow manufacturer instructions when installing your string lights, and never hang lights near water sources, such as the pool itself, without taking necessary precautions.

Step 5: Hang the String Lights

After you’ve successfully set up the anchor points, you’re now ready to hang your string lights. This stage can be quite thrilling as you begin to see your vision come to life. But remember, safety first.

Start at the Desired Starting Point

Start by plugging your string lights into an outdoor-rated extension cord. Then, carefully climb your ladder or step stool and attach the first light to your designated starting point. You might want to have someone hold the ladder for you, especially if you’re dealing with a higher installation point.

Hang the Lights and Secure Them Along the Way

Once the first light is securely attached, slowly work your way along your predetermined path, attaching each light to its corresponding anchor point. Zip ties or hooks can be highly effective here. They’re not only easy to use but also provide a secure grip, ensuring the lights won’t come loose, even in adverse weather conditions. Remember to keep an eye out for any potential hazards, such as water sources or sharp edges.

Adjust the Tension of the Lights

As you progress, you’ll need to adjust the tension of the string lights. The aim is to have them hang beautifully without sagging, but also without being too taut. If the lights are too tight, they might snap, while if they’re too loose, they could end up touching the water. Adjusting the tension may involve a bit of trial and error, but it’s essential for achieving that picture-perfect ambiance.

Step 6: Power Up the String Lights

Now that you’ve securely hung your string lights, it’s time to see them in action. Let’s get your twinkling lights powered up.

Connect the Lights to an Outdoor-Rated Extension Cord

First, you’ll need to connect your string lights to an outdoor-rated extension cord. This type of cord is designed to withstand the elements, making it safe for outdoor use. Be sure to plug the end of your string lights into the female end of the extension cord.

Remember, using an indoor extension cord outdoors can lead to electrical hazards.

Plug in the Extension Cord to a GFCI Outlet

Next, plug the other end of the extension cord into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet. This special type of outlet is designed to protect you from electric shocks. It’s easy to identify a GFCI outlet by its ‘TEST’ and ‘RESET’ buttons.

Ensure the Lights Are Properly Grounded

Lastly, make sure your lights are correctly grounded. This is a crucial step as it can prevent electrical shocks and fires. To do this, check that your GFCI outlet is grounded. If it’s not, consider hiring a qualified electrician to ground it for you.

Important: Always prioritise safety when dealing with electricity. If you’re unsure about any of these steps, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

String lights around pool


You’ve now got a clear understanding of how to hang string lights around your pool. From mapping out your design, gathering the right tools and materials, to finally hanging and powering up your lights, you’re well-equipped to create that magical atmosphere you’ve been dreaming of. Remember, safety is paramount. Always use outdoor-rated extension cords and ensure your lights are properly grounded to prevent electrical hazards. If you’re unsure about any steps, don’t hesitate to call in a professional. So, go on, light up your pool area and let it shine! With careful planning and a bit of effort, you’re set to transform your pool space into a picture-perfect oasis.

Curb Wise