Adding lights to your patio/garden area is an easy way to make your outdoor space more inviting. It might seem a little bit intimidating to buy a bag of concrete mix, but it’s really not difficult to make these DIY garden posts! The hardest part is getting the posts home in your car. There is absolutely nothing better than sitting outside on a summer night under the warm glow of lights around the patio.
Here’s a couple of before and after pictures of our patio area. It was SO much work (literally blood, sweat and tears), but I absolutely love the end result! And I think that these DIY Garden Posts add the perfect touch.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Supplies for DIY Garden Posts:
- 4″x4″ pressure treated posts (at least 10′ long)
- Gravel (enough for a couple inches at the bottom of each hole to prevent the post from rotting)
- Quick-setting concrete (one 50-lb. bag for each hole; we used Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix in the red bag which is only around $6 per bag and sets in just 20-40 minutes)
- Respirator mask
- Post hole digger (you can buy one for anywhere from $20-$50, but I would recommend that you get one with a fiberglass handle since they’re way more durable)
- Post level (definitely essential!)
- 4×4 Post caps (these are the beautiful copper ones that I got from Amazon)
- Outdoor wood glue
- Screw-in hooks
- Zip ties
- String Lights
- Brackets to hang baskets/lanterns/etc. (I don’t remember where we got ours, but here is a link for similar ones on Amazon)
- Hanging baskets (I got mine from Wayfair, but here is a link for a similar one)
- Timer for string lights (this timer is amazing! It has a sensor so that it turns on at dusk and will stay on for a set amount of time after turning on)
- Exterior stain (We used Olympic Elite Woodland Oil deck stain in Canyon Brown)
Instructions for DIY Garden Posts:
- Decide on your post placement.
- Dig holes with post hole digger. Dig to a depth of 2.5 feet, and a diameter of about 10-12 inches. Technically you are supposed to dig a post hole to a far enough depth so that 1/3 of the post is in the ground (For example, a post that is 6′ above the ground should have 3′ below the ground). However, we decided that for us a slightly more shallow hole would work fine since these posts are not holding a lot of weight compared to a fence post.
- Cut your posts to proper height if needed. We chose to have the top of our posts 7.5′ above the patio, and we did have to trim off a few inches to get the height we wanted.
- Stain posts with desired stain. If your post caps have any unfinished wood, you will want to stain them at this point as well. We used Olympic Elite Woodland Oil deck stain in Canyon Brown.
- Add a couple of inches of gravel to bottom of post hole. This will prevent the bottom of the post from sitting in water which can create rotting issues.
- Place post in post hole and make sure it’s square and level (use your post level)
- Put on your respirator mask (you don’t want to breathe in the concrete dust!), then add the Quikrete powder to the post hole. It’s best to add it slowly all the way around the post, otherwise the pressure of the concrete mix can shift the post out of position.
- Add water and mix with a stick. I think we added about one gallon of water per 50-lb bag. We really just jabbed it around for a little bit to let the water get down into the concrete powder. It’s really not a huge deal if you don’t mix it completely since the concrete powder will draw in water from the soil until it has just enough.
- Using your post level again, and double check to make sure the post has remained square and level thoughout the previous two steps. You only have a few minutes where you can actually move it so be sure to do this right after you add the water!
- Repeat for each post hole, then let the posts set. I let mine set overnight until I did anything else with them since I was paranoid about making them crooked, but theoretically you should be able to start using them in less than an hour.
- Add post caps. I used a little bit of wood glue to attach them.
- Add hooks. First drill pilot holes, then screw in the hooks. I installed mine 2 inches below the bottom of the post caps.
- Add string lights! I used a zip tie to attach the string lights to keep the line taut and prevent sagging. The first year we had the string lights I didn’t secure them with zip ties and they sagged down to an awkwardly low height. If connecting more than one string, fold the cords back on themselves and secure with zip ties to keep the spacing the same between all your lights.
- Install timer for lights. I absolutely love this timer! It turns the lights on automatically at dusk and you have a few different options for how long you want the lights to stay on for (for 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, 8 hours, or until dawn). Even if we’re gone and we don’t have time to sit outside, it makes me happy just to see the lights on when we get home at night! It looks so beautiful! It works great for Christmas lights as well!
These DIY Garden Posts looked kind of bare after I installed them and hung the lights, so I decided to add brackets to be able to use hanging baskets and lanterns. I am in love with the end result! They turned out even better than I had imagined!
If you’re looking for another great project to add curb appeal, check out this post to make your very own DIY Window Boxes.
28 thoughts on “DIY Garden Posts for String Lights”
How far apart are your post?
Ours are about 12 feet apart
How long did this take??
It took us around half of a day to install two posts (not including staining the posts). The part that takes the longest is digging the holes, so how long it takes you specifically will depend on how hard your soil is.
Where did you lace the zip ties??
If you zoom in on the picture of the top of the post, you can see where it’s attached with the zip tie. I pulled the lights taut and attached the cord to the hook with a zip tie, and then trimmed the end of the zip tie off.
What color stain did you use? I like the color.
Thanks! We used Olympic Elite Woodland Oil deck stain in Canyon Brown.
Are the lights hanging off the posts solar?
They are! I just used a regular non-solar lantern with a pillar candle and added these solar lights (affiliate link), winding them loosely around the pillar candle. If you look closely in a couple of the pictures, you can see there is a small wire running down from the lantern along the post to the ground where the little solar panel sticks into the ground. I love these little lights! I have also used them in our window boxes in the winter, they look so pretty!
What size is your lantern? Also did you use the same plant hooks for the flower and the lantern, or different sizes? Looks beautiful
Thanks! We did use the same size hook on each side of the post, and our lanterns are about 17 inches tall (not including the metal loop at the top of the lantern).
Where did you get your lanterns from? We looked around but could not find those you selected. Others viewed were not as beautiful as those you selected. We love what you did to the house and patio. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much! These are the Lagrad lanterns from Ikea. I got them a few years ago but it looks like they still carry them! They also hold up surprisingly well for the price. We’ve had ours outside year round for probably 3-4 years or so and they’re still in great shape.
No guide wire it looks like, you just have the string lights running post to post? It looks great, sounds like zip ties fixed the sagging so no guide wires needed?
No guide wires needed! I was very happy with how well the zip ties worked!
Love this!! Where did you find the lantern lights on the poles?
Thank you! They are from Ikea – the Lagrad lantern.
I followed your instructions and did this project this morning. It was incredibly easy. I did 5 posts with 72 linear feet of lights and the whole project only took about 4 hours. Thanks for your great inspiration and instructions.
Wow that sounds amazing! Yes I think it’s such an easy project that makes such a big impact!!
Kim…can you share a picture of yours? We are wanting to do this around our pool, with lights starting from our patio cover to the posts.
Jennifer…your house is ADORABLE! Really love this project, too! Hoping to get it done in time for our holiday party on December 12th!
What did you use as the “toppers” on your posts?
Sorry for the late response! We used these copper post caps from Amazon.
Your posts and patio look great! 2 questions:
1. Did you buy special posts or simply 2x2x10′ like you can get at Home Depot?
2. Where did you get the “tops” for the posts?
Thank you! We just used 4×4 pressure treated posts from the lumber store. These are the exact post caps from Amazon that we used for our posts.
Hi! What did u use to attach your lights to?? I know you used a zip tie but did u have Some sort of hook?? I didn’t see that on supply list
Hello! I just used some small screw hooks kind of like these