Hello, friends! This past holiday weekend, when it was in the mid 90s, Chris and I had the great idea to work on an outdoor project. 😉 OK, so I had the idea, and basically he did most of it and I documented it while also talking about how hot it was and how much the mosquitoes loved me, if we’re being honest here. One of the features of our new home that we are excited to really put to use is our patio. The concrete slab of the patio itself will one day need to be replaced because it’s cracked in several places, but we wanted to make it usable for our family right now as we plan to spend many summer evenings out there. I am a huge fan of string lights on summer hangout spots as they just add a magical feel to a space and produce ambient lighting. Our patio didn’t have any great places for us to hang lights, so we set out to solve that issue and create places where we could hang our lights. Today I am going to share with you all of the documentation I did while Chris worked on our DIY string light poles. (To be fair, we only have one shovel and one post digger!) This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission for purchases made through those links.
A few weeks or so ago, we were trying to figure out where on earth we could hang out lights. The tree placement in the yard didn’t quite work out, and we just couldn’t see past that. Eventually I would love to add a pergola, but we knew that wasn’t going to happen, so we were honestly stuck as to where to put the lights. As I was scrolling instagram one day, I came across Jenna Sue Designs DIY light string planters and a little light inside my head went off! (We did not follow her tutorial, but her idea is what inspired me, so I wanted to thank her!). The previous owners had built three planter boxes along the backside of the patio. The two outside boxes contained rose bushes, and the middle box contained a mostly dead except for a tiny bit of green boxwood, and a barely hanging on mum. The boxes provided us with outside corner placement for two poles, and the middle box provided us a location for a center pole. You can see them below in the listing photo when the plants were all full of life. While we used these planter boxes to place our poles, these DIY string light posts can be placed directly in the ground as well.
Now that you know the inspiration and what our goal was, let’s delve right into the step by step details.
You will need:
- 4 x 4 x 10 foot pressure treated lumber
- Quikrete Gravel
- Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete
- Post digger
- Eye Hooks
- Zip Ties
- String lights
- Take 3 trips to Lowes to gather all of the supplies you need.
- Using a post digger, dig a hole 1/3 of the length of your post. We used 10′ posts, so we should have dug about 3 1/3 feet deep. We ended up digging a little over 2 feet and decided that it would be good enough for us because our back yard is full of trees and down a hill so it doesn’t really get a lot of wind. We felt like that would be plenty deep for our pole. I am telling you this because I want to be honest with what we did versus what you probably should do. You can see Chris digging the first post below. As I mentioned, we used the outside corners of the two outside planter boxes so that the lights would run most of the length of our patio. These boxes each have rose bushes in the middle so this also allowed us to keep them in place. While Chris worked hard, I did assist as needed and I walked right into a rose branch and walked out with thorns sticking out of my leg. Lest you were thinking Chris did all the hard stuff, let it be known that I came away injured and bleeding, too.
- After digging all of your post holes, fill the bottom six inches with quikrete gravel.
- Lift your post and place it in the hole. Lift it up and down to pack down the gravel.
- Using a level, make sure your post is nice and straight BEFORE you fill your hole with any concrete. (I have no pictures of these steps, because I was the one holding the post level while Chris filled the holes.)
- Fill each hole with 2-3 50 lb bags of Quikrete fast setting concrete. It will pour out in a dusty powder with bits of gravel in it. I would highly recommend you wear a safety mask and goggles… We did not and I was definitely getting dust in my contacts. Like I said, thorns in my legs, dust in my contacts… I might not have been digging, but I was all in with this project!
- Measure out one gallon of water per bag of quikrete used and pour it right over the quikrete. Little tiny air bubbles will pop up as the water mixes with the concrete and fills in any gaps. Do not mix! Just let the water sink in and work its magic.
- Repeat steps 4-7 for each post you have. Also, while your concrete is still damp, you can have a little fun with it and let your kids put their initials into it. Our big kids both took this opportunity to use a stick and leave their initials. After this, you can let it set for a little while, about 20-40 minutes. We were both sweaty and tired so we decided just to let it set overnight and finish the next morning even though you don’t need to do that.
- After the concrete has set, cover it up with dirt. Chris was exhausted and sore, so I shoveled all of the dirt back into our planter boxes. Go me! Catcher enjoyed laying in the nice cool clay of North Carolina. He was so hot, but he wouldn’t go back inside because he wanted to hang out with us so badly. Luckily, the cool clay provided him with relief.
- Drill lead holes into the top of each post, about 3-4″ down from the top.
- Screw your eye hook into your lead hole.11. Attach your string lights to each post using zip ties. That’s it! Fyi, we used black zip ties to blend into the black of the string light cords.
Now, in our situation, we also had to attach the lights to our brick house, so we bought tapcon masonry anchors (and a masonry bit) that fit the threading of our eye hooks. Below you can see where it is attached to our home.
We started our lights in one corner of the house, then went to the closest light pole. From there, we placed our other anchors and eye hooks in the house spaced between the light poles so that our lights would run in a zig zag formation.
You will have to come back next week for a full tour of this space when I am participating in a unique summer home tour. 🙂
For now, here’s a little peek at our space glowing in the evening last night as we sat outside for dinner.
Obviously, as you can see, the back yard itself leaves a whole lot to be desired, but we are making progress, one DIY at a time.
I’ve put together a little gallery where you can find many of the items used in today’s post. Can’t wait to really share the details of this space with you next Tuesday.