How to hang outdoor curtains – and why every backyard needs them

Whether for shade from the sun or a little backyard privacy, outdoor curtains are a must, designers say. Here’s how to hang them stylishly

A pergola with outdoor curtains hanging from the rafters over an outdoor dining table
(Image credit: Bridgman)

Hanging curtains outside may not be the first thing that comes to mind when decorating your outdoor seating areas, but they offer a host of benefits. But how do you hang outdoor curtains and why do designers deem them a necessity? 

Reminiscent of Mediterranean beach getaways, a set of flowing outdoor curtains hanging from a porch or pergola makes for an aesthetic patio privacy screen, and helps curate the perfect outside sleep spot offering shade from the midday sun. 

Here, designers have explained why every relaxed outdoor space needs curtains, and how and where to hang them for a laid-back summer seating area.

How to hang outdoor curtains 

How you hang your outdoor curtains will depend on the type of curtain you have, and what you are attaching it to. Usually, you will use one of four methods to mount your curtains:

  • Hang curtains from a traditional rod: A traditional curtain rod is a great hanging option for curtains with large eyelets or rod pockets and can be used on any sound structure where you can safely mount brackets with screws as you would inside your home, such as a covered porch or garden room, explains Yama Jason, designer at Parlun Building.
  • Incorporate curtains into a pergola structure: If you have a pergola, you can incorporate curtains directly into the design by threading curtains with tab tops onto the top beams before fully assembling the structure. This can help to create that summer get-away vibe, especially when you use sheer linen drapes that can flow in the breeze, or place it near a pool for a shaded seating spot.
  • Mount a curtain track on ceilings: In a structure with a ceiling, a curtain track can be mounted as you would in your home. This method is a favorite of Jason Farr, founder of Aviara Pavers, an outdoor living designer who says traditional tracks are perfect for ‘allowing you to easily adjust the height of the curtains, as well as close and open them quickly and smoothly for privacy or shade.’
  • Use tension wire to mount curtains discreetly: Tension wire, as in this tension wire curtain kit on Amazon, is a great way to discreetly hang outdoor curtains between supporting posts without the need for a bulky track or pole, Yama Jason, designer, recommends. This is perfect for structures that don't have an enclosed roof, or a wall sound enough to drill into. 
Wire Rope Mounting Kit | $23.99 at Amazon

Wire Rope Mounting Kit | $23.99 at Amazon
This wire kit comes with all you need to mount tension wire between posts for hanging curtains of lights outside. The wire itself is rust-proof too, perfect for exposure to the elements. 

Why you need outdoor curtains

A pergola seating area with thick outdoor curtains hanging from the rafters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Outdoor curtains are one of the most underutilized garden decorating ideas but are arguably the easiest way to decorate your outdoor space for summer hosting, staying warm when dining outdoors, and creating a cozy, intimate seating area for relaxing in, says Jennifer Ebert, deputy editor (digital) at Homes & Gardens. ‘They are both useful and aesthetically pleasing, adding an accent of color, softness, and personality to your outdoor seating – there isn’t much not to like!’

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jen is the Deputy Editor (Digital) of Homes & Gardens online. Before starting this position, she had completed various interior design courses at KLC Design School, as well as working across Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes and Country Homes & Interiors as an interiors writer.

A pergola day bed next to a pool with outdoor curtains hanging from the rafters

(Image credit: Talenti)

What’s more, outdoor curtains, when hung correctly, provide excellent protection against the sun, both for you and your best outdoor furniture, adds Jason Farr, outdoor living designer:

‘In my opinion, outdoor curtains are a great way to make your outdoor space feel more like home. Aside from providing privacy and protection from the elements, outdoor curtains can also help to keep bugs out, provide warmth on cooler days and even add a cozy feel,’ he explains. ‘Go for heavier fabrics in winter to ensure maximum warmth and insulation. This way, you can enjoy your outdoor space all year round.’


How do you hang outdoor curtains without drilling holes?

There are three ways you can hang outdoor curtains without drilling. Firstly, you could use tension rods to hold curtains up between two stable surfaces, you can thread the curtains onto the structure itself such as the top beams of a pergola, or you can use adhesive hooks to hold a curtain rod up to support a light curtain. 

How do I add weight to the bottom of my outdoor curtains?

To weigh outdoor curtains down, you can attach weighted clips, at Amazon, to the base of the curtain, spreading them out equally to keep the curtain down when the wind blows. Alternatively, if you are crafty, you could create a more permanent solution by sewing weights into the hemline of the curtains.

When hanging outdoor curtains, it is best not to pick your generic indoor drapes. Instead, opt for fabrics designed to stand up to adverse weather such as rain and strong winds to prevent them from getting damaged when you can't take them down easily. Olefin fabric is best for this, being UV resistant as well to help prevent fading, but acrylic, polyester, and canvas also work.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.