Tips for displaying outdoor national and decorative flags

Tips for displaying outdoor national and decorative flags

There is an art to displaying decorative outdoor flags. Just ask any gardener or homeowner who has changed the location of their outdoor flags umpteen times. Determining how to display your flag properly depends upon which type of flag you have.

Types of Flags

There are so many types of flags. The first step in displaying decorative outdoor flags is to determine which type of flag you have:

  • Garden flag (a small flag with garden scenes, flowers, birdhouse, lady bug, butterfly, etc.)
  • National flag (USA, United Kingdom, etc.)
  • State flag (NC, VA, WA…)
  • Political flag (political parties, candidates, issues)
  • Regional flag (Southwest, Cajun, Southern, Confederate, etc.)
  • Statement flag (gay pride, John Deere fan, NASCAR fan…)
  • Seasonal flag (Easter, Halloween, Christmas, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, etc.)

There are different rules for displaying decorative outdoor flags from displaying national and state flags. The United States flag must be given extra special care and there are specific procedures to follow governing its display, folding and removal. Garden, seasonal and regional flags do not require so much attention. You can choose a good location and let them fly.


Displaying Decorative Outdoor Flags

Some flags lend themselves to particular spots in your landscape. For example, a seasonal flag looks good hanging somewhere near the front door of your home or on the mailbox post. A garden flag looks best in lush garden areas – the vegetable garden, the flower garden, on the patio, or hanging from a picket fence. Flags are wonderful for calling attention to a particular area of your garden or for creating a little movement and activity in beautiful garden areas. Flags may also serve a dual purpose in the vegetable garden or berry patch – scaring away birds and small predators.

The Official Precedence of Flags

The American flag always takes precedence over any other flags when flown in the U.S.A. This is the order of precedence for outdoor flags: U.S.A., other national flags, state flags, county, city, organizational and personal flags.

Displaying The U.S. and State Flags

There are a myriad of rules and regulations which govern the display of this type of flag. For the United States flag, here are a few of the important rules:

  • When it is flown on a halyard with another flag (such as your state flag), the United States flag must be positioned at the top with the state flag below it.
  • If you plan to display the flag from a staff projecting horizontally (such as from the front of a building, from a window sill, balcony or other object), you must position the union of the flag at the peak of the staff (unless the flag is being flown at half-staff).
  • To fly the U.S. flag at half-staff, you must first raise it to the peak and then lower it slowly.
  • To display the flag horizontally on a rope hung from a building to a pole on the sidewalk or elsewhere, the flag should be hoisted from the building upon the rope with the union going out first.
  • When the flag is displayed in any other manner than flying from a staff, it must be displayed flat.
  • If there is a group of flags, the U.S. flag should rise above all the others and should be placed at the center.
  • Never fly a tattered flag. Weathered and tattered flags should be retired from service honorably. You may repair a torn flag, however.

Taking the flag down is a detailed process, as is folding the flag properly. See the resources below for more information concerning displaying the United States flag.

U.S. Flag Rules and Regulations
Flag Etiquette