Café lights add a gorgeous glow to an outdoor living space, but they can be tricky to hang if you don’t have trees or other tall objects to string them from. Here’s a freestanding solution for hanging lights that uses planters and wood posts. It’s totally temporary, so it’s perfect for renters.
- 6 tall planters
- spray paint in desired color
- drop cloth
- (6) 2” x 2” x 8’ posts
- coordinating paint color, if desired
- painter’s tape
- 6 cup hooks
- (4) 50 lb. bags of quick concrete mix
- stir stick
- gravel or other drainage material
- potting soil
- 100 feet of patio string lights
Paint Planters and Posts
Wipe planters clean with a damp cloth. Place planters upside down on a drop cloth and cover completely with spray paint. Apply additional coats as necessary for full coverage. Turn planters over and paint the rim and inside the rim.
If desired, paint one end of the 2” x 2” x 8’ posts with the same paint by masking off the last 5-6” with painter’s tape. Allow to dry completely before masking again at the end of the painted portion and 1” below that, leaving a 1” band to be painted.
Paint the band with a coordinating color and allow to dry completely before removing tape. On one side of each post, add a cup hook in the center where the two paint colors meet.
Fill Planter With Concrete
Place the unpainted end of a 2” x 2” x 8’ post in each of the planters. Divide the dry concrete mix evenly over the planters. Add water to the concrete mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions and stir with a stick until well combined.
Place the planter on level ground and use a level on one side to make the post plumb. Add painter’s tape across the planter on all four sides of the post to hold it in position. Allow the concrete to harden according to the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding.
Add Plants to Planter
When the concrete has cured, add about 3” of gravel or other drainage material. Add potting soil to fill the planter, lightly packing it down.
Finally, add plants to fill the planter and water as needed.
String the Lights
Arrange the planters in a rectangle no more than 10′ apart.
Secure one end of the string lights to one of the cup hooks with the hook attached to the light, or with cable ties or twist ties if no hook exists. Continue stringing the lights, making an outline of the planters.
When you have reached the first planter and have formed a rectangular outline of lights, begin zigzagging the lights from one side of the outline to the other, spacing the passes of string far enough apart so that they will be evenly distributed to the end. Secure the end to a cup hook as you did the beginning of the string. Attach an outdoor-safe extension cord and plug into an outlet.