My Backyard Hangout

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I wrote an article recently centered around pergolas. I discussed what they are, how they differ from other structures, and why someone might want one. Alone, pergolas are a nice way to add shade or character to your backyard. But they’re also practical in other ways, such as adding more light. If this is an issue you’re facing, here are 7 pergola lighting ideas you can use.  

1. String Lights

Pergola Lighting Ideas - String lights wrapped under a pergola
Photo courtesy of Ucpage

The most common way to add light over any large outdoor space is by installing traditional string lights. There are many variations for string lights. Some have plastic bulbs while others have glass. Some are pendant-shaped while others are more round. They also differ in weather resistance, power sources, and color temperature. If you need help deciding which is best for your yard, you can read more about the pros and cons of each here. Personally, I prefer adjustable LEDs. This particular option is IP65 weather-proof and controlled using an app. Many people weave them under the rafters or wrap them around the posts. If they’re too heavy, you can use screws to add more stability or zip ties, for less damage to your pergola. 

2. Fairy Lights

Fairy lights are technically a form of string lights with smaller, more frequent bulbs. But they can have a different placement and create a much different look. You could hang them horizontally beneath the rafters, like traditional string lights. Or some people hang them vertically around the exterior of the frame. This provides a sort of curtain look that can be draped to the sides or left hanging down. If you have a garden bar, or you’re going for a more romantic or whimsical look, fairy lights are a great choice.   

3. LED Rope Lights

Like fairy lights, LED rope lights have smaller bulbs than traditional string lights. They also produce a more concentrated effect of light. The biggest difference is the bulbs are enclosed within plastic tubing. If you’re going for a more modern look, LED rope lights might be a better choice. You can also use LEDs for other outdoor projects, such as framing walkways or creating epoxy bar tops.

4. Outdoor Sconce Lights

Another pergola lighting idea is adding sconces. Outdoors, these are often installed on porches or garages to illuminate entryways. But they also work well attached to one or more posts of a pergola. You could add one to each post, either facing the interior or exterior. Or, if you have a walkway leading to your pergola, you could add them to the nearest posts. There are several variations, making this a good option for any design. For example, if you prefer a rustic look, consider some that resemble traditional lanterns or barn lights. If you prefer a more modern look, you could choose something like an encased light. Considering they’re often used for entryways, many options are motion activated. If you want the light to stay on for long periods of time, you’ll need to check the description before buying.   

5. Center Beam Pergola Lighting Ideas

Pergola lighting ideas - An outdoor chandelier hanging from a center beam above an outdoor dining area

If you use your pergola for outdoor dining, pendant lights or chandeliers make nice focal points. You could install it to a center beam, above your seating area. Personally, I prefer a minimal look.

6. Lanterns

A similar option is to hang one or more solar-powered lanterns. These can be added to the center, or spread out over the entire structure.     

7. Landscape Lights

You don’t necessarily need to attach something to the structure itself to add more light to a pergola. Depending on the setup, you could install landscape lights around the edges or along a walkway. You could also place them in nearby flowerbeds. They’re easy to install and most are solar-powered if you’re concerned about energy usage.     


Considered a shade structure, pergolas are also good for adding lighting to your yard. One of the most common choices for any outdoor setting is string lights. This is because they can cover large areas and there are several options available. Other pergola lighting ideas include fairy lights, LED strip lights, outdoor pendants or chandeliers, sconces, and landscape lights. No matter which option you choose, adding lighting can make your yard a more comfortable and usable space.

Have some other pergola lighting ideas? Leave them in the comments below and share this article with your friends! 

Looking for other ways to decorate your pergola? Check out these 11 outdoor swing ideas.


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