DIY String Light Planters Tutorial
FYI: The cost depends on how many planters you’d like. When we did this project, the planters were $20, posts were $15, bag of concrete $4 (about 2 planters worth), bag of rock $3/bag, planter hangers $8. The lights were $50 off Amazon and we used 2 for the entire patio. We had the scrap wood for the forms, the stain, and potting soil. Then you decide the type and therefore the cost of your flowers.
Early Spring is a great time to start sprucing up your patio or porch. We use our back patio all year round in large part because of the beautiful and function DIY String Light Planters we made! Let’s walk through the steps here.
Be sure to check out my Web Story for a quick video refresher!
This post may include affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you click on the link and/or purchase from that site. I use that money to keep this blog running. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Our Patio Before
When we purchased our home, the back yard and patio was a mess. There was poison ivy and overgrown weeds and plants all over. The drainage rocks were scattered across the patio. And there was very little sign that this could be a welcoming, warm place to entertain or hang out with family.
Painting the brick of our home made a huge difference. Even the back patio area seems brighter. However, we knew we needed something back here to help make the space more inviting and comfortable. We didn’t want to add lighting up higher on the back of the house because it would end up being really bright inside the house with all of the windows.
We decided on string lights to set the atmosphere we wanted, but knew that we were not going to be breaking up concrete back there any time soon to add posts.
I also was in prime gardening mode because we had had the entire back hill–all 70+ feet of it–completely wiped out and we were in the process of planning and planting the whole hill at once. Just about everything on the hill was going to be perennials so it would be less maintenance for us. But I wanted small areas to include annuals too.
The solution we came up with are the string light planters!
First Step: Plan Out Your Planter/Lighting Placement
Plan out how you’d like to string the lights across your patio and then how many planters/posts you’ll need. We liked the look of zip zagging the lights over the dining/grilling area and then crisscrossing them over the lounging area.
Next: Gather Materials
Ultimately, this project was fairly inexpensive. Here’s what you need:
- Plastic or rubber planters. We found ours at Home Depot.
- 4x4x8 foot posts–as many as you’d like to have on your patio
- Optional: Exterior wood stain for your posts and a roller brush. We like the semi-transparent so they didn’t look painted.
- Quikrete concrete mix & water, amount depends on size of planters, we used 1 bag per planter
- Potting Soil
- Planter Hanging Brackets
- String Lights
- Drill and screw driver or impact
- NOT SHOWN BUT IMPORTANT: drainage rock, we used about half of large back of drainage rock per planter, making it about 2 to 3 inches deep on top of the concrete
Stain Your Posts & Add Your Planter Hangers
Make sure you use the exterior wood stain. We liked the semi-transparent stain so we could still see wood grain and it didn’t look painted. I feel like it weathers better, too, than solid stain.
Add the planter hangers to the top of each post. Make sure they are hung right side up.
Set Up Your Planter for the Post
Mark the center of the bottom of your planter. That’s where the center of your post will go. To be honest, you are very unlikely to be able to notice if the post is a couple centimeters off in any direction. And if your friends notice and say something…do you really want to be friends with them anyway? Ha! I kid. But for real.
This is optional but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Make a wood form out of 2x2s or some other scrap wood. So long as the pieces are longer than the diameter of your planter (how wide the top is), they’ll work.
We made a T form with the cross piece towards the center of the other piece of wood, like you see in the picture. Then, we placed the post in the center and put the form right next to it so both sides were on the post.
TIP: mark on the top of the form where the form meets the edges of the planter. That way, you can simply line up those marks on the next planter and use that as a guide of where to place the post without having to measure again.
Place Your Post & Then Add Concrete
Place your post in the center of the empty planter. Add the dry concrete mix. (MAKE SURE IT”S QUIKRETE or quick set). Add the required amount of water specified on the bag & mix it up around your post.
We tried to mix the concrete first and then set the post down into it, but it was much harder to get the post far enough down in the concrete and to get it level.
TIP: USE A LEVEL on the side of the post to make sure it is straight up and not leaning over.
Add your wood form if you made one. In a couple of minutes, you should be able to let go of the post and the form will keep it upright.
Allow the concrete to dry before moving on.
If you have little kiddos, you could let them put their handprints in the top of the concrete inside the planter before it dries! Let it set up a little bit so the handprints stay.
IMPORTANT STEP: Add Drainage Holes
Use your drill to add drainage holes about 1-2 inches above your concrete. This will allow for the water that builds up to drain out.
If you do not have it, the water can pool at the bottom of your planter and then rot your plant roots.
You do not need large holes. I think we used a 1/4 inch drill bit. This way, the water can escape but the soil will not also come pouring out.
Add Drainage Rock, Potting Soil, & Flowers
Add the drainage rocks on top of the concrete. I used 2-3 inches of rock.
Then fill the remainder of the planter up with potting soil.
Plant your flowers!
Hang Your Lights
Begin with the planter closest to an electrical outlet. Make sure your cord can reach or get an outdoor extension cord (black and brown tend to blend if you have furniture or flower beds.
We used black zip ties to make sure the lighting did not fall off. Depending on your local weather and the shape of your planter hangers, you may want to consider this as well.
Make sure your planters are in their final location before you hang the lights so when you stretch your lights, you can pull them taut so they do not droop.
Final Step: ENJOY YOUR PATIO!
Be sure to check out my Web Story for a quick video refresher! Pin this picture to make sure you can save this tutorial for later!
So what do you think? Do you like how they turned out? Do you think you could or will make your own String Light Planters? I would LOVE it if you tagged me on social media (@designofyourlife on all platforms) and/or comment below!
Enjoyed the project?
Resources for this project:
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
Join the conversation
Craftidly | Dawn Stewart on Apr 23, 2022
Love this idea! We're having a paver patio put in and I really want to do something with lights but I didn't want to dig post holes. Thank you for the awesome idea. I'm definitely doing this one!
Alicia Rose | designofyourlife on Apr 23, 2022
That’s awesome! Let me know if you have any questions. I’m @designofyourlife on social media and there’s a contact and comment form on my website! I’d love to see what you do too.
half a bag of Quikrete per planter?
Love this idea. I’m looking at your finished photos and I don’t see the plant hangers at the top. And how are you attaching the lights to the 4x4’s? Thanks.
What size were your planters?