How to Decorate a Pergola With Lights

Creating a magical outdoor space to enjoy with friends and family is a great way to add some glamour and sparkle to any summer gathering. When making this dream a reality, one of the best pieces of décor you can incorporate is lighting.

How to Decorate a Pergola With Lights

Decorating your pergola with lights can take any relaxing evening up a notch while creating an enchanted atmosphere for your guests. From stringing lights along the rafters or putting them in clusters, there are plenty of tricks you may never have considered that will instantly transform your outdoor area into something extraordinary!

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to decorate a pergola with lights so that you can get creative and make memories under the stars that last long after dusk falls!

What Will You Need?

Before we dive into the different lighting techniques, let’s go over what you will need to get started. Here are a few things you may want to consider gathering before embarking on your pergola decorating journey:

  • String lights (LED is preferable for safety and energy efficiency)
  • Extension cord(s) if needed
  • Zip ties or hooks for easy installation
  • Outdoor timer (optional but helpful for automatic turning on and off)
  • Decorative lanterns or other hanging light fixtures (optional)

Once you have these items, it’s time to get creative!

10 Easy Steps on How to Decorate a Pergola With Lights

Step 1. Plan Your Design:

Start by visualizing your pergola and how you’d like it to be illuminated. Consider how the light will fall and how it will enhance the ambiance of your outdoor space.

Visualizing Your Pergola and How You'd Like It

You can either have a trail of lights along the pergola’s beams or create a curtain of lights for a more mystical effect.

Step 2. Install the Hooks or Zip Ties:

Properly securing your lights is crucial to creating a safe and visually pleasing display. Depending on the design you’ve chosen, you’ll need to install hooks or zip ties along the beams or posts of your pergola.

Space them evenly to ensure the lights hang straight and follow your intended design. If you’re creating a curtain of lights, you’ll want to secure the top of each light strand to the beam. For a trail of lights along the beams, connect your lights at intervals along the length of the beam.

Step 3. Hang the Lights:

Start at one end of your pergola and carefully begin hanging your lights. If you’re creating a light trail, simply wrap the lights around the beams or string them along the edge.

For a curtain effect, hang strands of lights side by side across the width of the pergola. Secure each strand with the hooks or zip ties you’ve installed. For safety, ensure that the string lights and extension cords are fully secured and not under too much tension.

Step 4. Connect the Lights:

To create a continuous flow of light, connect each string of lights end-to-end. Depending on the design you’ve chosen, this could be along the length or width of the pergola. Check the manufacturer’s guidance on how many lights you can safely connect. Once all the lights are strung and connected, plug them into the extension cord.

Along the Length or Width of the Pergola

Step 5. Install Outdoor Timer (Optional):

If you’ve decided to use an outdoor timer, connect it to the end of the extension cord before plugging into an outdoor outlet. This allows you to set specific times for your lights to turn on and off, saving energy and adding an element of surprise to your outdoor space.

Step 6. Add Decorative Lights (Optional):

For an extra touch of grandeur, add hanging lanterns or other light fixtures to your pergola. You can hang these from the beams or posts, depending on your design. These additional light fixtures not only increase the light output but also add a layer of texture and depth to your pergola, making it appear as a captivating outdoor space.

Step 7. Check the Lighting:

After all lights are installed, turn them on to check if they are working correctly and providing the desired effect. Walk around the pergola to ensure each light shines brightly and the overall look matches your initial vision. Adjust the positioning if necessary. This is also a good time to ensure that any extension cords are safely and discreetly positioned.

Step 8. Adjust for Comfort:

Once the lights are on, sit under the pergola and experience it from a guest’s perspective. Is the lighting too bright or too dim? Are there any bulbs directly in line of sight that could be bothersome? Use this time to make any necessary adjustments to create a comfortable, inviting atmosphere.

Step 9. Safety Check:

Before you start using your newly lit pergola regularly, double-check all fixtures, cords, and lights for safety. Ensure that all lights are securely fastened, cords are out of the way to prevent tripping, and the lights aren’t heating up excessively. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Using Your Newly Lit Pergola Regularly

Step 10. Enjoy Your Pergola:

With everything checked and in place, now comes the best part – enjoying your newly decorated pergola! Whether you’re using it for late-night gatherings, romantic dinners, or just to unwind after a long day, your pergola is now ready to create an enchanting outdoor experience.

Remember, the best part of any decoration is the joy and comfort it brings you and your loved ones. Enjoy the magical nights under the stars!

By following these ten easy steps, you can transform your pergola into a beautiful and captivating outdoor space. So gather your supplies, get creative, and make your outdoor area shine with the warmth of string lights!

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

Tip 1. Use Weatherproof Lights:

When choosing lights for your pergola, make sure they are suitable for outdoor use and are weatherproof. This will ensure they can withstand rain, wind, and other elements without causing any safety hazards.

Tip 2. Play with Color:

Don’t be afraid to play with different color lights to add a fun twist to your pergola decor. You can even go for multiple colors or use special effects lights for a more festive look.

Tip 3. Use Rope Lights:

If you prefer something other than wrapping string lights around beams, consider using rope lights instead. These are easier to install and provide a more uniform light along the length of the pergola.

Tip 4. Don’t Forget About Safety:

Always keep safety in mind when decorating with lights. Ensure all cords are securely fastened and out of reach from pets or children. It’s also a good idea to turn off the lights before going to bed or leaving your house.

Tip 5. Experiment with Different Designs:

Feel free to get creative and experiment with different designs when hanging your lights. You can even use multiple strands of lights at varying lengths for an eye-catching display. Have fun, and let your imagination run wild!

With these additional tips and tricks, you can take your pergola decoration skills to the next level and create a truly unique and stunning outdoor space.

5 Things Should Avoid

Mistake 1. Using Indoor Lights:

Never use indoor lights for decorating your pergola. These lights are not built to withstand outdoor weather conditions and can pose safety risks if exposed to elements like rain or snow.

Mistake 2. Overloading the Circuit:

Be careful not to connect too many light strings end-to-end, as this can overload the circuit and increase the fire risk. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the maximum number of light strings that can be safely connected.

Mistake 3. Ignoring Light Placement:

Avoid placing lights in areas where they can be a nuisance or a hazard. For instance, lights should be kept from where people frequently walk, as they could trip over cords or bump into fixtures.

Placing Lights in Areas Where They Can Be a Nuisance

Mistake 4. Neglecting Maintenance:

Failing to check and maintain your lights regularly can result in decreased performance and a shorter lifespan for your lights. Always ensure that the bulbs are functioning well and replace any that are burnt out promptly.

Mistake 5. Choosing the Wrong Light Type:

One size does not fit all when it comes to outdoor lighting. Make sure to choose lights that are suitable for your specific pergola design and that will effectively create the ambiance you desire.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your pergola is well-lit but also safe and delightful for everyone who uses it.


With proper planning and preparation, you can create a beautiful and inviting environment for family and friends to enjoy your outdoor space. After having researched all the different styles and options of pergola lighting, you can now confidently decide which type of lighting best suits your outdoor space.

Americans nationwide are beginning to take advantage of this unique home decor trend.

Hopefully, the article on how to decorate a pergola with lights has been insightful and helpful in your quest to enhance the beauty of your outdoor space.

Don’t delay – get started today! Gather your supplies, grab a few tools, and get to work transforming your outdoor area into an oasis! Once complete, sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of your illuminated landscape.

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