DIY Outdoor Lighting: The Secret Life of Rope Light

Go beyond the ordinary and learn 3 ways to use rope light in your next outdoor lighting project.

By Kelli Harvey | Updated Mar 11, 2020
Outdoor Rope Light Ideas

Rope light is often used for indoor lighting under cabinets and as recessed lighting in bedrooms. But what you may not know, is that rope light also lives a secret life as a more versatile option for outdoor lighting than traditional solar powered stakes or standard up lighting. Instead of pinpointing one single focal point as with traditional landscape lights, rope light casts a wide glow across larger spaces.

For landscape lighting projects, white rope light is most popular because the clear tubing is better able to blend in with surroundings when not in use. Highlight contours, edges, pathways, decks and patios - all with the help of this humble outdoor lighting option!

Walkway Lighting with Rope Light
Walkway Lighting with Rope Light
Landscape Lighting with Rope Light

Select Your Rope Light

Start by measuring the space. 150' LED rope light spools are best for outdoor landscaping as they allow plenty of length to be covered and can be spliced for complete customization. Plus, any leftover can be used in other lighting projects! Pick a color that suits your style and will complement your landscape. Rope light is available in a full spectrum of hues, including LED options, so finding the perfect shade for your landscape should be easy! For the projects below we used white LED rope light.

A few notes before you begin...

  • Sometimes measurements can be off. To prevent light runs that are too short or too long, we suggest leaving your rope light on the spool until you have it securely in place using one of the methods below. Then, once your light is exactly as you want it, you can cut it from the spool and then connect your power cord.

  • Incandescent rope light creates heat and should never be plugged in while still wrapped in the spool

Walkway & Landscape Lights

Landscape and Walkway Rope Light Supplies

  • Power Cord ( 3 are included with spools)
  • Garden Staples or U Stakes to keep tubing in place
  • End caps ( 3 are included with spools)
Walkway Rope Light Supplies
Walkway Lighting Supplies

Lay your rope light down and make adjustments as needed until you have it positioned where you want it. Then, Insert your first garden staple at the end opposite the spool. If you are lighting a straight path you can space staples further apart, however if the path is curved you may want to use extra anchors to keep everything in place.

Rope Light Landscape Lighting
Garden Staples Secure Rope Light
Rope Light Landscape Lighting
Rope Light Installed Along Rock Wall

Install Rope Light Across a Deck

Rope Light as Deck Lighting Supplies

  • Power Cord ( 3 are included with spools)
  • Screw in clips
  • End caps ( 3 are included with spools)
Deck Rope Light Supplies
Deck Lighting Supplies

We chose to use screw in mounting clips for our deck lights. These sturdy clips hide beneath the deck and are great for long term outdoor use. We used the deck posts as a measuring tool and placed a clip at every third pole. However, you could also measure your deck and use a pencil or chalk to mark the locations where you plan to place your clips.

Rope Light Used For Deck Lighting
Clips Screwed Underneath Deck to Hold Rope Light
Rope Light Used For Deck Lighting
Rope Light Fits Snug Into Clips

Cutting Rope Light

After completing the installation, you can cut the rope light from the spool. Then, add a power cord to one end and an end cap to the other. Visit our rope light guide for detailed instructions on how to cut rope light.

After your rope light is connected to a power cord and the end cap is in place, go ahead and plug your power cord in to check that it's working properly.

When night time arrives you're ready to enjoy a beautifully illuminated walkway or landscape!

Completed Rope Light DIY Projects

Walkway Lights

Illuminate a Walkway with Rope Light!

Landscape Lights

Brighten Landscapes and Rock Walls Using Rope Light
Outdoor Deck Lighting with Rope Light

Ambient Lighting

Outdoor Lighting with Rope Light
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