It’s the season to be spending a lot of time outdoors.  Even though the sun goes down much later, there are times you need a little extra light.  I’m going to show you an easy way to add some lighting ambiance to your outdoor space.  This will by no means add enough light to do work but it will allow you to enjoy more time outside, provided the bugs don’t run you off.

My back yard has no light.  None.  The only light is outside my “back” door which is actually on the side of my house and does nothing to illuminate the back.  On the other side of my fence is woods so there is no lighting coming from that direction.   I also don’t have a way to add the type of lighting I want without running new electric wires and, to be honest, I’m not really excited about climbing through the attic to do it.  I’ve also been wanting one of those awesome spaces with the pretty string lights that’s so perfect for entertaining.  I’m talking about spaces similar to these:

I Should Be Mopping the Floor

Southern State of Mind

7th House on the Left

My backyard presents some problems I needed to work around as I made my plan.

  1. My backyard slopes like crazy which makes any plan involving a flat area nearly impossible.
  2. My dogs rule the backyard and I don’t want anything in their way or that they will tear up.
  3. There are still some pretty big renovations coming that could change how I set up the lights.

To get the most bang for my buck while keeping the above issues in mind, I decided to hang both string lights and solar lights around the perimeter of my yard.  Not only did this give me some much needed lighting all around the yard, it gives me my pretty entertaining space!

I decided to use solar path lights in addition to string lights so that there would always be some light present when I didn’t have the string lights on.  Keep in mind, since the solar lights are path way lights, they aren’t going to put off a ton of light.  Since I wanted to attach my lights to the fence, I counted all of my support posts and ordered enough lights for the posts.  I chose these lights (affiliate) from Amazon.

It was simple to attach the lights to my fence by using conduit straps I purchased from Lowe’s.

Since my lights were copper, I used copper spray paint on the clamps to make them match.

If you use these particular lights, you’ll need to make sure you pull the top off and move the toggle switch to “on” so they will work.

Next was to add the string lights.  These things can get crazy expensive!  I wasn’t about to have any of that but I wanted to make sure they were going to last.  I was also pretty particular about the color.  I didn’t want multi colored lights and I prefer warm white over the cool white bulbs.  The blueish color just doesn’t do it for me.  I did quite a bit of online searching and found these lights from Target.

They are inexpensive (only $13 a string!), have warm white LED lights which are going to last longer, and are a great length for the price (25 feet).  The globes around the bulbs are plastic so I also don’t have to worry about them shattering if one happens to fall.

I took a reel tape measure (because it’s super long) and figured out how much fence line I had to cover.  It’s handy to have a helper during this to hold the other end of your tape.  I also wanted to hang the lights under my soffit on the house so I had to measure that distance as well.  It was over 250 feet total.  I would need 11 strands of lights to cover my distance.

I could have hung the lights using a staple gun but I wanted an easy way to change out the lights if I needed without having to remove staples or keep creating new holes.  Screw hooks (also called screw eye hooks or ceiling hooks) were just what I wanted.  I purchased these hooks from Lowe’s.

Like my lack of lighting problem, I also have an electrical outlet problem.  The only one is by the “back” door.  I didn’t want to have an extension cord strung out to trip over so I just strung it up along the side of the house.  I plugged it into the outlet so I could make sure I left enough length hanging.

Then I installed several screw hooks in the wood portion of my house until I reached the soffit where I wanted the lights to start.  I used a drill bit slightly smaller than my screw hooks then screwed in the hooks.  A handy little tip I wish I knew then…put the screw part of the hook in your drill and use the hook to twist the hook you’re installing in place.  The extension cord hangs on those hooks and is out of my way.  It’s easy to just go plug it in whenever I want the lights on.

I didn’t want the lights hanging under the soffit to be drapey so I spaced the hooks fairly close together (maybe about one to two feet apart) and made sure to pull the string taut without putting stress on it.

Anytime I had to join two strings, I made sure to loop the ends together as though I was tying a knot to keep them from pulling apart over time.

When it was time to attach them from the soffit to the fence, I just let them drape to the fence.  This part of my yard is hardly ever used so it was not in the way for the lights to hang there.

As I was going along the fence, I left a greater amount of space between the hooks.  I decided I wanted six fence boards between each with left a little bit of a drape in the strings.

When you get them all in place, sit back and enjoy!

  

It’s not easy getting a decent picture of the solar lights to show their full effect but this will give you an idea of how I laid them out.

I’ve had these lights up for a year.  I have not had any globes come off or any bulbs burn out. Only one string has had to be replaced and that was just a couple weeks ago because the wires somehow got cut.  Luckily, I had a spare box on hand.

My backyard is far from being my idea of finished but this makes it one step closer.  I have plans to add more string lights to my deck area but there is still quite a bit of work left before I get to that point.  Think second level and a pergola!  How have you turned your backyard into a fun space for entertaining?

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