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How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Lighting Set-Up for Under $500

Living Insights

Lighting sets the mood. Whether it’s indoors for a romantic meal or a full moon shining over a calm sea, lighting is powerful to the senses. When deciding how to enhance your backyard to create the perfect effect, lighting is an important factor.

There are many different designs out there for less than $500, but one that seems versatile and mobile involves planters, a few pieces of wood, and some string lights. This can be customized to fit any space and depending on the budget, can be scaled down or paired up to fit any backyard lighting need.

Materials Needed

First, gather the materials needed. Here are a few suggestions for a 10’ x 15’ patio space.

  • 6 tall planters
  • (6) 2” x 2” x 8’ posts
  • (4) 50-pound bags of quick concrete mix
  • Level
  • Stir stick
  • Water
  • Spray paint in one or two coordinating colors
  • Drop cloth
  • Masking tape or painters’ tape
  • Gravel or rocks for drainage
  • Plants with potting soil
  • 100 feet or more of patio string lights

Prepping the Planters and Posts

First, begin with the planters and posts. Turn the planters upside down on a piece of cardboard or drop cloth and spray paint the desired color. If needed, add additional coats to cover completely. Once dry, turn the planters over and spray paint just the rim inside. If you already like the color of the planters, skip this step.

For an added flair, paint the top end of the 2” x 2” x 8’ posts with the corresponding paint or create stripes with painters’ tape to add interest. Get creative with color. Once the paint is dry, add a cup hook to the top of the post where the colors meet.

Mix Cement and Place Posts

Using the unpainted end of the 2” x 2” x 8’ post, place into the bottom of the planter. Using the quick concrete, mix according to bag instructions and place an even amount into the bottom of each planter. You can brace the posts with a cross section of painter’s tape into a tic-tac-toe pattern at the top of the planters to help hold the posts in place upright while the cement dries. Don’t forget to use a level to ensure that the cement in the pots dries in a level position.

Add Plants and Lights

Once the cement is dry, add gravel, potting soil, and plants to the planters. Personally, we recommend putting citronella plants for an added mosquito repellent, but any plant that suits your taste will work here. Place the pots in the desired position (no more than 10’ apart) and string the lights around the perimeter, then in a crisscross fashion.

Don’t forget to attach an outdoor-safe extension cord and plug into an outdoor safe outlet.

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