How to Decorate a Pergola With Lights

Welcome to our blog post on transforming your ordinary pergola into a stunning, cozy outdoor space with lights. If you have always admired pictures of beautifully lit pergolas but have yet to know where to start, this is the perfect guide. 

How to Decorate a Pergola With Lights

Whether you want to create a romantic ambiance for date nights or host lively gatherings under the starry sky, decorating your pergola with lights is essential in achieving that dreamy atmosphere. In this post, we will share various tips, ideas, and techniques on how to decorate a pergola with lights. So grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and get ready to be inspired!

Necessary Items for Decorating a Pergola With Lights

Before diving into the decoration process, gathering all the necessary items and tools is essential. Here is a list of things you will need:

  • String lights or fairy lights (LED lights are recommended for energy efficiency)
  • Extension cords and power outlets (make sure they are waterproof if using outdoors)
  • Ladder or step stool
  • Zip ties or hooks for attaching lights to the pergola
  • Timer or remote control (optional but highly recommended for convenience)

Now that you have all the necessary items let’s move on to the fun part – decorating your pergola with lights!

10 Steps on How to Decorate a Pergola With Lights

Step 1: Choosing the Right Type of Lights

The first step in decorating your pergola is choosing the type of lights that suit your desired ambiance. String or fairy lights are the most popular and versatile options, as they can be quickly wrapped around pillars, draped over beams, or hung along the edges of your pergola.

String or Fairy Lights Are the Most Popular

Step 2: Plan Your Design

Before you start decorating, having a plan in mind is essential. Think about the layout of your pergola and where you want the lights to be placed. You can also sketch a rough design or use an online planner to visualize your ideas.

Step 3: Clean and Prepare Your Pergola

Before hanging any lights, ensure your pergola is clean and debris-free. This will ensure your lights stay in place and give off a brighter glow. You can also add decorative elements, such as plants or lanterns, to complement the lamps.

Step 4: Test Your Lights

Before hanging the lights, it’s essential to test them first. This will save you time and frustration in case any bulbs are not working. Simply plug in the mornings and replace any faulty bulbs before proceeding.

It's Essential To Test Them First

Step 5: Start at the Bottom

When it’s time to hang the lights, start at the bottom and work your way up. This will help prevent tangling and ensure that the lights are evenly distributed. Use zip ties or hooks to secure the lights to the pergola.

Step 6: Create a Canopy Effect

Consider draping lights across the top of the pergola for a dreamy and romantic look to create a canopy effect. This works well for larger pergolas and adds depth to the overall design.

Step 7: Add Twinkle Lights

Consider adding twinkle lights to your string lights to add dimension and sparkle. These small lights can intertwine with the leading lights to create a mesmerizing effect. You can also use different colored lights for a festive touch.

Step 8: Incorporate Lanterns or Candles

Add lanterns or candles to your pergola for a cozy and intimate feel. These can be hung from the beams, placed on tables, or strung with the lights. Just make sure to keep them away from any flammable materials.

Consideration the Layout And Size of Your Pergola

Step 9: Consider a Timer or Remote Control

Consider investing in a timer or remote control to save yourself the hassle of turning your lights on and off daily. This will also allow you to change the lighting according to your mood or special occasions.

Step 10: Enjoy Your Transformed Pergola!

Congratulations! You have now successfully transformed your pergola into a beautifully lit outdoor oasis. Enjoy the cozy and inviting atmosphere with your loved ones, or simply relax under the twinkling lights yourself.

Decorating a pergola with lights is easy and budget-friendly to elevate your outdoor space. You can transform your plain pergola into a magical retreat with the correct type of lights, careful planning, and some creativity. We hope this guide inspired you to bring warmth and ambiance to your outdoor living area.

8 Things to Avoid When Decorating a Pergola With Lights

1. Using Too Many Lights

While lights are essential in creating a cozy atmosphere, using only a few can create an overwhelming and cluttered look. Stick to a specific design and avoid overdoing it with the lights.

2. Using Non-Waterproof Lights Outdoors

Using waterproof lights when decorating your outdoor pergola is essential to prevent accidents or damage. Always check the labels before purchasing your lights.

3. Not Considering Safety Measures

When hanging lights, follow proper safety measures and avoid using damaged extension cords or overloading power outlets. It’s also important to turn off the lights when not in use.

4. Ignoring the Layout of Your Pergola

Before decorating, take into consideration the layout and size of your pergola. This will help you determine the amount and placement of lights needed for a balanced look.

Add Lanterns or 
Candles to Your Pergola

5. Not Checking for Color Temperature

If you want a warm and cozy feel, opt for lights with a yellow or warm white color temperature. On the other hand, if you prefer a cool and modern look, go for lamps with a blue or cool white color temperature.

6. Choosing Cheap Lights

Investing in high-quality lights will ensure a longer lifespan and provide a brighter and more consistent glow. Cheap lights may have uneven lighting or burn out quickly.

7. Forgetting to Incorporate Other Decor Elements

While lights are the main focus, remember to incorporate other decorative elements, such as plants, lanterns, or candles, to add depth and interest to your design.

8. Not Considering Your Neighbors

If you live near your neighbors, consider their privacy and avoid hanging lights that may shine directly into their windows. Conversing with them beforehand is always a good idea to ensure everyone is on the same page.  Overall, decorating a pergola with lights should be a fun and creative process. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a safe and visually appealing outdoor space you can enjoy all year round.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are LED Lights Better Than Traditional Incandescent Lights for Decorating a Pergola?

Yes, LED lights are more energy-efficient and durable than traditional incandescent lights. They also come in a variety of colors and have longer lifespans. 

Can I Leave My Pergola Lights Up Year-Round?

While it’s possible to leave your pergola lights up year-round, taking them down during harsh weather conditions is recommended. This will prolong the lifespan of your lights and prevent any potential damage.

What is the Best Type of Light for a Pergola?

The best type of lights for a pergola depends on personal preference and the space’s overall design. Some popular options include string lights, globe lights, and fairy lights.

Can I Hang Lights on a Vinyl Pergola?

You can hang lights on a vinyl pergola if you use appropriate hooks or clips to avoid damaging the material. Avoid using nails or screws, as they can cause cracks or punctures.

Can I Leave My Pergola Lights on Overnight?

Leaving any lights on overnight is not recommended as it can be a fire hazard. Consider using a timer or remote control to turn off the lights after a specific time.

How Do I Keep My Lights from Tangling?

Start at the bottom work your way up when hanging the lights, and avoid pulling on them too tightly. You can also use clips or zip ties to secure the sunlight and prevent tangling.

Can I Use Battery-Operated Lights for My Pergola?

Yes, battery-operated lights can be convenient for those without an outdoor power outlet. Just make sure to purchase waterproof lights and check the batteries regularly.

How Do I Clean and Maintain My Pergola Lights?

Regularly dusting off your lights can help maintain their brightness. Use a damp cloth to wipe any stubborn dirt or debris clean gently. Make sure they are scorched before turning them back on. 


Adding lights to your pergola is a practical way to extend the use of your outdoor space and a beautiful and festive addition to any backyard. By following these simple tips and tricks on how to decorate a pergola with lights, you can create a cozy and inviting ambiance that will have you spending more time outside under the stars. From the romantic twinkle of string lights to the subtle glow of lanterns, there are endless possibilities for bringing light into your pergola. 

So put on your creative hat and experiment with lighting fixtures and arrangements that best suit your style and needs. And remember to consider the location and power source when choosing lights for your pergola. Remember, a little strategic planning can go a long way in creating an enchanting outdoor oasis! So grab those lights and get ready to transform your pergola into the perfect spot for entertaining relaxation, or even intimate dinners with loved ones. Get inspired by our ideas and make them uniquely yours; the result will surely leave a lasting impression on all who experience it!

Angela Ervin

Angela Ervin

Angela is the executive editor of DIY quickly. She began her career as an interior designer before applying her strategic and creative passion to lifestyle and home. She has close to 15 years of experience in creative writing and online content strategy for housekeeping, home decorations as well as other niche efforts. She loves her job and has the privilege of working with an extraordinary team. She lives with her husband, two sons, and daughter in Petersburg. When she's not busy working she spent time with her family.

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