Getting Started With Backyard Lighting Ideas

String lights are just one idea of many when it comes to backyard lighting

Backyard lighting ideas come in all shapes and sizes. They range from quick and easy DIY projects to strategically installed fixtures. Regardless of your budget or the size of your backyard, there are countless ways to add life to your outdoor space through lighting.

Lighting can completely change the ambiance of a room inside of your house, and the same is true for the backyard. When it comes to outdoor space in particular, backyard lighting isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, it is also adds an extra sense of safety and increased visibility if you are outside at night.

Start by taking a close look at the lighting options your backyard already has. Identify where power outlets are, and where fixtures have or could be installed. This will make it easy to identify what’s missing, or see how you can work with what you already have.

Some general tips to bear in mind when making decisions for your next backyard lighting idea include:

  • Make sure pathways are well lit. This is an absolute must if you plan to be using your backyard at night.
  • Avoid light pollution by aiming lights carefully, and shielding bulbs to concrete light where you want it. Indirect light is ideal for patio spaces.
  • Consider task lighting, for example, around a cooking area in your backyard such as the BBQ
  • Think about going the environmentally friendly route, and purchasing solar powered outdoor lights.

Multi-dimensional lighting

Multi-dimensional lighting can do wonders to create a unique feel for your backyard. A well lit backyard should have lighting that is both functional but also decorative. Installing fixtures like wall scones on the side of your house ensures that you have the right amount of light necessary to entertain at night. But add some lighting to your garden, or string lights through the trees, and you can create a sense of ambiance for evening entertaining.

So, what are some backyard lighting ideas that you can test out right away?

Create lights out of canning jars

The first thing you’ll need to get started is a few indoor/outdoor lighting cords from Ikea or somewhere similar. You’ll also need a few large Mason jars.

Use a drill to cut a hole in the metal lid of the jar. You can also add some color by applying translucent outdoor glass paint. Then, screw the jars into the cord fixtures and hang in a cluster above an outdoor patio table or seating area. You may need to get an extension cord to reach a nearby socket for power.

Mason jars can be used both for candles and hanging overhead lights

Make paper bag lanterns

You can take outdoor string lights to the next level with some colorful paper bags and ribbons. This backyard lighting idea also has the added benefit of being a great party decoration.

All you’ll need is a utility knife to cut a slit through both sides of each bag, about two inches or so from the top. Then, open the bag up and cut an X in the bottom middle. You can slip ribbon, two feet in length, through the slits and knot it.

Take your string lights, and push a bulb through the X so that the socket is fully inside. Using tape, seal in the wire and socket, and do the same thing to cover the remaining bulbs.

Turn clay pots into outdoor lampshades

After purchasing a few small clay pots, you will need some chain. Slip a thin metal rod through chain ends, then, wrap an elastic band around the ends. Once this is done you can hook an LED light into the middle. Put the light and rod inside the pot, and pull the chain through the drain hole. The rod is then essentially a brace, holding everything in place. This way it’s also easy to remove the light when it comes time to replace the batteries.

Flip the pot so that the chain is right side up and hang from a flower pot hook attached to a fence.

Make tin can lanterns

Start by collecting a few tins cans of different sizes. Then, fill them with water and freeze them. Once frozen, punch a design using a hammer and nail. Once the ice has melted you can paint the exterior of the can.

Create small wire hangers for jars and hang on a railing

Using wire to wrap around the mouth of a mason jar is a quick and effective way to make a handle. This can then be hung on a railing or a balcony. Pop a tea light inside each one, and you have a series of mason jar candles.

Make cupcake lights

Similar to the paper bag lanterns, this is simply a matter of using an existing product for a brand new purposes. Colorful cupcake wrappers can become tiny lampshades for your outdoor string lights. Just cut an “X” in the bottom of each wrapper and pop them over each lightbulb on your string.

Fabric covers or translucent glass paint are just the beginning when it comes to outdoor string light ideas for your backyard

Hang tea lights

Using several pieces of ribbon of different lengths, hang tea lights from tree branches in your backyard. Make sure that the ribbon is long enough to avoid the candle from being a fire hazard.

Use a hula hoop and icicle lights to make a chandelier

Wrap ribbon around an old hula hoop. Then, wrap the entire thing with icicle lights and hang from a porch ceiling for a different and easy to assemble piece of backyard lighting.

Make an illuminated table runner with beer bottles and Christmas lights

Recycled beer bottles stuffed with tiny Christmas lights, and placed strategically in a row along the middle of a picnic table will not only light up your next outdoor meal, but can also be assembled in a matter of minutes.

Light up your trees

Wrap tiny outdoors lights around the entire trunks of a couple of small trees in your backyard. This backyard lighting idea works for not only summer entertaining, but can also make a great holiday decoration. Lights like these ones from Restoration Hardware should do the trick.

However you decide to do it, adding different kinds of lighting to your backyard is a great first step to refresh your space. If updating existing fixtures, make sure to turn off any necessary breakers, or consult an electrician as appropriate.

Lighting can make all the difference

Regardless of how you decide to refresh your outdoor space with these backyard lighting ideas, it can make a world of difference. Even the smallest or most subtle details can create a new ambiance for your backyard for both you and guests to enjoy.

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