learn how to hang outdoor string lights Like a Pro!
I am a huge fan of outdoor string lights. They have the potential to totally transform any outdoor space. I am so excited to share with you how we made these outdoor string light planters. At first glance this post might seem like a regular DIY backyard makeover. Yes, you will learn how to create an amazing DIY outdoor string lights project. But you are in store for much more.
This really is more of a Cinderella story. Transforming my backyard turned out to be huge life lesson for me, and it proves once again that attitude is everything.
- Why This Project is a Great Solution for Outdoor String Lights
- What Changed
- Project Begins: Outdoor String Lights – Backyard Makeover
- DIY Barrel Planters with Posts to Hang Outdoor String Lights
- Attach Your Outdoor String Lights to the Posts
- Choose Your Outdoor String Lights
- Backyard Finishing Touches
- Some Lessons Are Hard to Learn
Why This Project is a Great Solution for Outdoor String Lights
Outdoor string lights are a fun & festive way to add ambiance and of course LIGHT to any outdoor space. The challenges of hanging lights outside are
1) where/how to hang them, and
2) how to get electricity to your lights.
- This project solves both problems beautifully. We had seen plenty of solutions and easy DIY projects, but we really wanted our solution to add beauty.
- Also, we had seen solutions using cement but not only were they not beautiful, they would be really heavy to move around our backyard.
- Finally, this solution uses solar outdoor string lights, completely solving the electricity challenge.
The Story of My Backyard Makeover
When we bought our home nine years ago the house had been completely remodeled and we felt like we were moving into our dream home. Everything was shiny and new and perfect. Everything, that is, except the backyard. The backyard had been left undone and was little more than a fenced in area with a few trees and a lot of dirt. We weren’t really upset by this. We had remodeled our last house and had planned and planted our own backyard, so we looked forward to being able to do the same to this space. Little did we know that my husband would lose his job six months later, and we would be dealing with financial struggles that would prevent that from happening.
Next, flash forward nine years. Our backyard is still dirt. We still haven’t had the finances to make any changes. Our boys play in the front yard when they want to kick their soccer ball around or play with the dogs. We have a beautiful home and are so grateful for the space we have but, we pretty much live inside year-round. This is significant especially since we live in California climate where outside living is possible 3/4 of the year.
Oh, the plans we had. Big plans. We wanted to create pathways, different patios, a deck and a covered pergola. We wanted to landscape with tropical plants and create a lush oasis including a fountain. In fact, they were such high hopes and such grand expectations that we became stuck. Without the finances for our grand project we became paralyzed to do anything. We couldn’t envision any compromise and were lost in self-pity.
I spent nine years looking outside at the dirt and feeling sad. All I saw was what wasn’t there, I was looking at the situation with a “glass half empty” perspective instead of a “glass half full” one. That was all that needed to change.
I finally realized that I could apply the same determination and DIY ingenuity that I had on the interior of my home to my exterior spaces. The same can-do spirit, determination and creativity which had transformed the interior of my house could be used for our back yard. Inside I had taken much of what I already owned and applied my creativity. With projects like my drop cloth curtains, painting my walls and chalk painting old furniture I had breathed new life into my home. All was achieved with hard work on a minimal budget. Thinking about my inside success I asked myself, why can’t I do this to my backyard?
Project Begins: Outdoor String Lights – Backyard Makeover
- First, I located some outdoor furniture that my neighbor had gifted me last year that was still sitting piled up in our garage. I brought it out and placed it on our little stone patio where our outside table had been.
- Next came a wicker trunk that we weren’t really using inside to serve as a make-shift coffee table.
- Searching through my storage, I found some faux plants, and all of a sudden it started to look like a destination. I began to imagine that this space could actually be a place we could enjoy. Yes, it was still in the middle of a dirt yard, but I started to see past the dirt to what was possible. And I was getting excited.
I had seen pictures of outdoor string lights that created beautiful magical settings, and I got an idea. Actually, it was Julie’s idea. Here’s what I did:
DIY Barrel Planters with Posts to Hang Outdoor String Lights
- solar powered LED outdoor globe lights
- 4 Barrel planters or similar container
- A variety of plants to fill planters
- 4 1″ x 1″ square posts (if you can find round ones you like those would be great too)
- Nuts and bolts to fit and secure
- 4 1.5″ plumbing pipes about 10″ long
- 4 base fittings for the plumbing pipes
- Small plywood scraps to secure to the bottom (to add strength)
- 4 hooks to hang the lights from and wrap the extra wire around
- Planting soil
Watch this video to see how we secured the outdoor string lights poles into the planters.
Attach the plumbing pipe to the base fitting.
Attach Your Outdoor String Lights to the Posts
- Secure your hooks on the top of the posts with screws (use and electric screwdriver if available.)
- We linked two 15′ light strands together using green floral wire to extend the length of the distance between the posts.
- Attach the lights to one side leaving just enough wire to attach the solar panel to the top of the post. Wrap the extra wire around the hook.
- Place post into the plumbing pipe to stand it up in the planter barrel.
- String lights across the area and attach the other end in the same way.
Choose Your Outdoor String Lights
Researching outdoor string lights, we quickly realized solar was the way to go. Our criteria was:
- fun style
- good quality/durable
- reasonably priced
- respected brand
When choosing your string lights keep in mind these features:
- We like plastic which makes them safer and a lot more durable than glass.
- Solar means inexpensive, environmentally friendly, easy to install, and can be hung anywhere! You just put the solar “catcher” in the sun nearby.
Backyard Finishing Touches
- I set up my outdoor furniture on the patio.
- The outdoor string lights created a visual frame for my patio.
- The final step was adding the all-important details:
- fun multi-colored outdoor pillows
- plants, both faux and real
Some Lessons Are Hard to Learn
Wow. It had been nine years, and our backyard had been a source of sadness to me. I would look out the window and see the dirt and think of the dreams we had that were still out of reach. I would think of what couldn’t be. And I would turn away. My only coping strategy was to try not to think about it. I would try to focus on what I did have, but that was always limited to inside.
Finally, my project was complete, and I was tired. It was at the end of a long day of solid work carrying dirt and planting flowers, and I sat down on my hand-me-down furniture in my backyard for the first time.
There were flowers, there were outdoor string lights, there were bright colored pillows. As I sat down, I realized I didn’t even see the dirt anymore.
What I saw was a beautiful canopy of trees. I felt the soft breeze and enjoyed the wind blowing through the palms around us. The only sounds were the birds and the breeze through the trees.
The space around me was so comforting and it was so private and cozy. I was surrounded by trees and by and old fence but with enough space to feel actually spoiled.
In the end it’s hard to believe it took me nine years to stop feeling sorry for myself and just enjoy what I had. I was so consumed with wanting it to be perfect that I missed out on all those years of just appreciating the beauty that was there the whole time.
Be sure to check out this article for more budget-friendly backyard DIY ideas?
Cheers to looking at the glass half full, Friends!