How to hang lanterns in trees

Outdoor tree light ideas – 10 ways to illuminate your garden

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Lighting can be just as important a part of our gardens as our homes, yet all too often we either leave it too late or pop out a few lanterns and hope for the best.

Yet a few outdoor tree light ideas can make your trees and shrubs shine after dark too. Tree lights can often be the star attraction when it comes to garden lighting ideas for your space.

‘Trees can be lit via uplighters, where the light is positioned at the base of the trunk and shone upwards to highlight the skeleton of the tree,' says Pip Probert garden designer and RHS multi-award winner at Outer Spaces . 'Or, spots, which can be positioned within the branches of the tree and shone downwards, which is called a “moonlighting effect.” Moonlighting can look more delicate that up lighting, but it depends on the effect you want to create.

‘Festoon lights can look really soft and inviting, while fairy lights can look stunning when fitted correctly. Take the time to follow the branches and internal shape of the tree – NOT just dropping them into the foliage! It is time consuming and often takes more lights than you think, but the effect is stunning.’

‘Connectable string lights are the ultimate choice for illuminating outdoor trees,’ says Amy Mason, director of product at Lights4Fun . ‘By wrapping string lights around the trunks and branches, you'll create a sense of grandeur in your outdoor space. We recommend daisy-chaining multiple sets together from a singular power source for a fuss-free set up that’ll give your tree a soft glow. Make use of accessories such as 2- and 2-way connectors that will allow you to run up separate branches from the same power source, giving your tree an even glow throughout.

Outdoor tree light ideas

‘Why not take your tree lighting to the next level with a fully customisable display operated string lights controlled through an app?’ asks Amy. ‘Either choose from a vast library of pre-loaded designs or get creative by drawing your own, choosing colours and effects. You can even connect the lights to your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to make them dance along with your music for a unique feature.’

For some inspiration for your garden or patio lighting idea, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best outdoor tree light ideas. Many of these are plug-and-enjoy solutions, making it easy to transform your patio, garden or decking.

1. Create a vintage vibe with paper

(Image credit: Alamy/FotoHelin)

Position a bistro set beneath your favourite tree ready for a spot of afternoon tea in the sun. Create a whimsical feel with paper lantern lights – even unlit, they add to the atmosphere. Choose designs that are solar-powered, so when the light fades, the lanterns emit a lovely soft glow, that’s just perfect for relaxing.

Vary the length of ribbon that your paper lantern lights hang from, suggesting a sense of movement through the branches of your tree. It’s a great idea for a summer garden party idea or wedding, especially if your tree is covered with pretty blossom.

2. Add an Eastern vibe

(Image credit: Future PLC/Gareth Morgans)

Mini Chinese paper lanterns and glow sticks are perfect for adding a little magic to your favourite tree or climbing plant idea come sundown. Make sure you’ve charged up and tested any solar lights prior to your evening soiree, as they often take longer than you think to charge up fresh from the box. Don’t forget to snap the glow sticks into life.

For speed, choose a set that’s on a string – it will be easy to secure to the tree’s branches and you can create a lovely shape by carrying the drop of each from the string.

3. Suspend lanterns from branches

(Image credit: Alamy)

Gather your collection of lanterns and tealights together to create a magical scene – just hang from ribbon from branches. You could use battery-operated LED tealights for high-up spot – just make sure that any ribbon is clear of the heat from lit ones. Add more sparkle with outdoor fairy lights woven through branches – you always need more than you think, so go large with numbers.

4. Make lights part of a tree’s structure

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Just how plants and climbers use structures such as pergolas or other garden shade ideas and supports to grow, follow the same tactic with outdoor fairy lights. Wind around the trunk, through branches and over shrubs. Choose lights that omit a warm, yellow light for a more natural feel than crisp white/blue LEDs, while battery-operated candles can create a soft glow when placed at the foot of a tree or pergola.

Buy now: Waterproof TryGlow candles, £26.99 for three , Lights4Fun

5. Use candlelight to lead the eye

(Image credit: Alamy)

Stakes and lanterns dotted around your garden can highlight trees in a lovely whimsical way, as your eye moves from light source to light source – a great idea to light your patio or deck lighting idea too. Start by clustering lanterns and candle stakes around your patio area, varying the height so you can see changes in planting, then from sturdy branches, hang larger candle lanterns. This will lead the eye upwards to appreciate any hero tree canopies above.

6. Choose lighting that echoes your tree

(Image credit: Alamy)

Think about how you can enhance planting with an outdoor tree light idea. Oriental style lanterns and jasmine or honeysuckle are a great combination. Play with lines, contrasting billowing branches with straight cables and lights – the softer foliage becomes a great backdrop, allowing the lights to pop, adding an extra visual layer, even when not on.

7. Go for odd numbers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carl Hodgson)

Visually, threes, fives and sevens work best when it comes to lanterns. It’s a stylist’s trick that can work with tree lighting too. Fisherman’s lanterns look great during the day, but imagine this tree at night, lit by the soft glow of candlelight? Hanging lanterns below branches will cast a light upwards, playing with shadows and highlighting leaves and texture perfectly. Use this trick when looking at outdoor wall lighting ideas too.

8. Wind up your lighting

(Image credit: Festive Lights)

Fairy lights aren’t just for an outdoor Christmas lighting idea – they can turn a tree trunk into a structural feature of your garden too. Choose a LED set that’s controlled by the mains, with a timer that allows you to illuminate trees as the light fades. If you need more lights, then go for a set that will allow you to add to the length – some are connectable up to 950 metres – just imagine the twinkle!

Buy now: Outdoor LED string lights, from £16.99, Festive Lights

9. Boost an old tree

(Image credit: Sparkle Lighting)

If you’ve a favourite tree that is looking a little sorry for itself, give it a new lease of life with some cluster fairy lights, wound through its branches. If you aren’t near a mains supply, then choose a solar powered set – and a wired design allows you to bend to the natural curve of your tree.

Buy now: Solar cluster fairy lights, £28.95 , Sparkle Lighting

10. Hang up festoon lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Who doesn’t love a string of festoon lights? Run a set along the top of your garden fence idea, where they can illuminate what’s growing above and below. The lighting will vary, depending on what’s shading each bulb, creating a lovely soft overall effect. If you are near a mains supply, then plug a set in. Alternatively solar ones can give the same effect. This is a great wall lighting idea that also makes a feature of neighbouring trees and shrubs too.

How many lights do I need to illuminate a tree?

Not enough lights and your garden scheme will look mean; too many and it will resemble a Christmas light show. Just how do you get it right? ‘My rule of thumb for any outdoor tree is 10 metres of lights for every three feet of height,’ says Amy Mason, director of product at lights4fun. ‘For deciduous trees, this is ideal, but for fir trees, double it up. Start from the base of your trunk and tightly wrap the lights up the tree, moving on to the branches and affixing with cable ties to secure.’

How can I uplight a tree?

‘Uplighting is fairly simple,’ says Pip Probert, garden designer and RHS multi-award winner at Outer Spaces. ‘A spotlight is positioned at the base of the tree and shines directly up into the foliage, with lighting hitting the trunk and branches as it progresses up through the foliage.’ The type of tree and bulb will make a difference to how the garden idea feels at night. ‘A warm white is always better than a bright white,’ says Pip. ‘If you want something a little softer, try moving the spotlight out, away from the tree. This make the effect softer, not as harsh with there being some distance between the bulb and the foliage etc.’

‘Choose solar-powered spotlights for an effortless display, as they’ll soak up the sun during the day and automatically illuminate as dusk falls,’ adds Amy. ‘They’ll light up to 25m and give up to 10 hours of glow, creating a warm ambience, which will last all evening.’

How to Decorate Outdoor Spaces with Lanterns in 15 Minutes

With the relaxation of lockdown and the prospect of beautiful warm summer evenings, we can start to think of inviting friends and family for food and drinks in a socially-distanced garden setting. And after so long, it makes sense to push the boat out and give your outdoor space a bit of a wow factor. The great thing is, with nylon lanterns from The Paper Lantern Company, plus some of our White Outdoor Lantern Lights (or some outdoor Christmas lights from your loft or garage), plus a bit of imagination, you could create a magical look in minutes!

We used

  • 21 x 16” (40cm) and 8 x 12” (30cm) Nylon Lanterns in a mix of White, Lilac and Fuchsia
  • 7m of low-voltage outdoor LED festoon lights with the bulbs 50cm apart
  • 15m of low-voltage outdoor LED Christmas lights (our 13m White Outdoor Lantern Lights are the perfect alternative!)
  • Step-ladder
  • Tree in the garden


  1. Hook the lights up across your garden or outdoor space, using walls, fence posts, or (as we did) a helpfully-positioned tree.
  2. Ensure the lights reach a suitable indoor plug socket.
  3. Make up your lanterns and hang them from your lights using the ‘C’ hook in the centre of the lantern.
  4. Open some beers and fire up the barbeque.
  5. As dusk falls, turn on the lights and await the reaction from your friends.

Outdoor Nylon Lanterns

With a range of colours to choose from, you can select any colour combination you like. We went for an equal mix of White, Fuchsia and Lilac – remember that nylon lanterns are more robust than paper so you’re going to be able to use them more often and for lots of events. We used mainly 16” (40cm) but added a few 12” (30cm) where space was a bit tighter under our tree. We didn’t use any 20” because the height of our lights meant people could bang their heads, but if you’ve the space then 20” are really impressive. 16” also meant that one could hang over each bulb of the festoon lights we had (the bulbs are 20” apart on ours).

Festoon Lights

If you’ve got festoon lights or can borrow some, they are simple to use because a lantern fits over each bulb. Make sure they’re low-voltage, safe and suitable for outdoor use. Ours had three LEDs in each bulb making them really bright. They also produced no heat so there were no safety issues. The plug needed to be used indoors so we ran the lights from a socket in the kitchen, out of the back door, up a drain pipe and across the garden where we tied them to a tree on the other side.

The lanterns then just hang from the lights using the ‘C’ hook that is at the top of the wire insert inside each lantern.

Christmas Lights

If you haven’t any festoon lights, or if like us you wanted to make more of an impact, outdoor Christmas lights work really well. Ours had lots of small bright berry-like LED lights, and until now had only ever been draped along a yew hedge each December. Alternatively our Outdoor Lantern Lights are ideal if you don't have any already.  We attached one end of the lights to a small hook on the window frame of the house, ran it round our tree, and then up to an upstairs bedroom window where it could be plugged in to an indoor socket. It did mean however that we had to turn the two sets of lights on in two different places, but we got over it.

As with the festoon lights, the lanterns hang easily from the lights using the ‘C’ hook in each one. To be honest the Christmas lights gave more flexibility than the festoon lights, because you aren’t restricted by the position of the bulbs; and the twinkling effect of the extra Christmas lights looks really pretty when it gets dark. We tried to line up the lanterns to get more than 1 light above it, but it became a bit fiddly so we didn’t try too hard and the result is still really impressive.

The Result

For just a few minutes effort and a small outlay, we think the result is really impressive. We threw some bean bags down and took full advantage of a balmy summer night to have some good company, beers and food until late…

Illumination of trees and bushes. Article with examples.

The house is built, the territory is ennobled, plants and trees are planted. What's next? And then all this lush (or not very lush) vegetation must be illuminated. Lighting for plants is a necessary and generally not difficult task. The main thing is to determine which garden lights to use, as well as to familiarize yourself with the existing ways of plant lighting . You will learn this and much more in this article!

Tree lighting

Perhaps you have a tree growing on your site with a chic trunk texture, which you are secretly or clearly proud of and dream of admiring it in the dark, too. And, perhaps, your tree has not one trunk, but several, and they are intricately intertwined, attracting admiring glances. To emphasize such beauty in the evening, it is necessary to use the so-called ground lamp of a directional glow, placing it in close proximity to the tree trunk and pointing upwards. You can also buy a ground lamp for these purposes. Thus, the trunk of your tree will appear in all its glory, and its crown will be in the shade. This method is also good for trees in which the crown is not the strongest place, as well as for low specimens. Such lighting will visually make the tree much higher, give solidity and some theatrical mystery.

If you are the owner of a tree with a chic, dense crown of an interesting shape, and you want to emphasize this, then using the same ground directional light as in the first option, you can achieve the desired result. However, in this case, it is necessary to place this lamp at some distance from the trunk or lower branches of the tree and adjust it so that the beam of light falls on the crown of the tree. The power and size of this luminaire (both in the first and second lighting options) must be selected taking into account the dimensions of the tree to be illuminated. This method, as well as possible, is suitable for highlighting fir trees, it will allow you to consider each leaf or needle, makes the color of the foliage more saturated, and the tree itself is somewhat higher than it actually is. But if a tree has a sufficiently branched crown, then, in this case, it is more expedient to illuminate such a tree with several ground lamps from different sides in order to completely cover its entire crown with light.

Another effective way to illuminate trees, as well as shrubs with an interesting silhouette, or as it is also called - gabius, is a silhouette, contour illumination, in which the light source, in this case, again, a ground lamp of a directional glow, is installed behind a tree or shrub, at some distance, and the beam of light is directed from the bottom up. Walking past, so to speak, the front side of the tree, you will enjoy the graphic image of the tree, its contour on the illuminated background, while the color and texture of the tree will be indistinguishable. This way of illumination, as well as possible, is suitable for demonstrating, for example, coniferous trees with small leaves - needles. If the trees in your area grow along the fence, a good option would be to place lamps for silhouette lighting between the fence and the fir trees, directing a beam of light at the trees. Thus, you will achieve an amazing effect, leaving the fence itself in the shade, and visually expand the boundaries of the site.

With silhouette lighting, the power of the lamp should be higher than with frontal lighting of a tree from the front side. However, when illuminating the front side of the tree, one should not take too powerful a lamp - too bright illumination will “kill” the entire texture and color of the tree.

All of the above are ways to illuminate objects from below - a spectacular and "unnatural" light in nature, which allows you to reveal what is little noticeable or hidden in plants during the day.

The most natural way of illumination (in this case, we mean the way it happens in nature) is the illumination of trees and shrubs from above. This method of illumination is close to natural light, only more intense in saturation. Not only the object of illumination falls into the field of action of the light, but also the earth around it, which makes it possible to achieve a balance between light and shadow that dominates the rest of the territory. This method is only suitable for low-growing trees or shrubs. In this case, the lamp for illumination can be high street lamps-lanterns or medium heights street posts for shrubs

It looks very advantageous on large powerful trees with a branched crown when the lights are fixed directly on the tree, for example, on its trunk or branches. This method allows you to highlight the crown as if from the inside, focus on its most interesting fragments, as well as illuminate the space under the tree. In this case, it is more expedient to use miniature lamps that are easy to fix on a branch and easy to hide among the foliage. Make sure that the cords from these lamps are also hidden from prying eyes.

Shrub lighting

Want, but don't know how to highlight bushes ? Almost all of the above methods of highlighting trees are also suitable for bushes - the effect will be similar. We list them in relation to shrubs for fixing the material:

- The lamp is located inside the bush, the light comes from the bottom up. Such light allows you to see what is hardly noticeable during the day. The leaves acquire juicy shades, clear outlines, you can even discern patterns of veins, the shrub seems to be higher than it really is. The outlines and shape of the plant are poorly readable.

- G the ground lamp is located at a certain distance (usually equal to the height of the bush) from the object, the beam of light is directed at the object - emphasis on the shape, the crown of the bush. With such lighting, the shape of the shrub is read very well, so the plant must have a shape!

- Silhouette lighting. The stream of light is directed from behind, the front side of the shrub is in the shade. An excellent solution for small-leaved shrubs with a well-read contour and a well-groomed crown shape.

- Illumination from above. The most natural and low contrast way to illuminate shrubs. The transition from light to shadow is soft. In this case, an excellent solution here would be to use small (depending on the height of the bush) street bollards for directional or diffused lighting.

Another way to illuminate shrubs is side light. The stream of light, as it were, glides over the object along a tangent, thereby revealing openwork chiaroscuro. This technique is very often used when highlighting trimmed hedges and multi-level flower beds, it gives an idea of ​​the depth, extent of space and composition, thanks to the alternation of dark and light areas. This method of lighting is implemented using the same ground rotary lamps or small street bollard lamps , directional or diffused light.

Flowerbed lighting

I would also like to say a few words about the illumination of flower beds. The most common way of backlighting is backlighting from above and, as already mentioned, this method is closest to natural lighting. Especially if small street lamps-columns of diffused lighting, located inside or near the flower bed, act as a lamp.

If you want to focus on certain elements of the flower bed, make the colors richer and brighter, then, in this case, street columns of directional light or with the ability to change the angle of incidence of the light beam will do.

An interesting way to illuminate flowerbeds is illumination by intersecting light, when an object, usually a multi-level flower bed, is illuminated from two sides. On the one hand, it can be a ground lamp located directly on the ground at some distance from the flower bed and directed upwards at the composition, and on the other hand, it can be illuminated from above by a street column of directional light. In this light, not only the features of the composition in the foreground are revealed brighter, but it generally looks softer, more natural, and under such lighting you can comprehensively evaluate the composition.

In conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to the color of the glow of lamps for illuminating plants in your garden. It must be borne in mind that yellow shades bring objects closer, while cold ones, on the contrary, move them away. Knowing this important nuance, you can literally play with the space on your backyard - visually enlarge, even in the evening, the modest areas of the garden with the help of cold light, or vice versa, make the vast expanses of your ranch more comfortable and intimate with the help of a warm glow.

7 inspirational ideas for decorating your backyard with lanterns

1. Solar flashlights

Purchase ready-made mini solar-powered flashlights. They exist in a variety of shapes and colors: in the form of stones, small garlands-lamps or colorful birds.

Such flashlights consist of 4 elements: a battery that converts the energy of the light flux into electric current, a special light bulb, an electric battery and a light sensor. The latter automatically turns on the solar garden light at nightfall.

Lamps are inserted into the ground along the path or in the flower garden.

Shopping ideas from OcoDeco:

2. Lantern with mount

To install such a lantern, you do not have to lay an electrical cable or call a wizard. Garden lights have special legs, or are made in the form of a peg, which is enough to stick into the lawn. If there is hard ground on the site, dig a recess with a shovel or scoop, carefully place the lamp in it and tamp the soil on the sides.

Such street lighting is not afraid of rain, fog, snowfall, withstands temperature fluctuations from - 10 to + 50 degrees.

You can decorate the porch of the house with forged lanterns: the house will look like an aristocratic and sophisticated place. Metal inserts must be copper, aluminum or stainless steel.

Install tall park lights along a path or pond. It is good if the flashlight is touch-sensitive or equipped with a switch.

3. Can lanterns

They are easy to make on your own: you need to thoroughly wash the tin can, apply a pattern with a pencil or felt-tip pen, then use nails and a hammer to knock out the pattern in the form of holes.

To make a suspension for a lantern, you need a piece of thick wire. Measure the required length of wire as follows: wrap the wire around the neck of the can, then bend a loop out of it, for which the lantern will be hung. The loop should go from one edge of the neck of the jar to the opposite. Cut off the excess wire, and at both ends of the measured segment, bend the hook with pliers. Then bend the wire around the neck of the jar, hook it on the hook and make a loop. Then pass the free end of the loop under the wire on the opposite side of the neck and clamp with pliers.

Place a lit candle-tablet inside the jar, and soft openwork light will play in the garden. Such lanterns are hung on trees or placed in front of the house.

4. Glass jar lanterns

It is even easier to make lanterns from glass jars. For this, jars of ketchup or sauces are suitable. The jars must be washed, dried, and a wire handle made for them. Place a candle inside. To give stability, deepen the candle in a layer of sand or salt poured into the bottom of the jar.

5. Colorful lanterns

Use colored glass jars or colored filling. If you want patterns, use a brush to apply a thin layer of stained glass paint to the outer surface of the glass jar.

If glass jars are painted in different colors, you get a multi-colored garland that will illuminate the garden path, terrace or gazebo.

6. Patterned lanterns

Cut out decorative elements, circle the contours of the elements - stars, crescents, hearts - according to the templates on self-adhesive paper.

Learn more