If You Want Your Yard to Sparkle at Night, Try This!

It’s a good thing I started hanging my LED outdoor lights before my big fall because I won’t be climbing ladders and trees for a while!

Because I’m drawn to all Pinterest photos of outdoor lighting ideas, one of my goals for the summer was to continue to make OUR nighttime yard more magical with light.   I’ve been using lights in different ways since last summer (here, here, and here) but I’m finally ready to make the switch to all LED warm white lights.

Why LED?

It seems that every year, I spend too much time repairing and replacing the incandescent string lights in my pachysandra berm, so I decided to try warm white LEDs…less power draw than traditional lights, I can connect more strings end to end, and they’re more durable…so that sounds like a plan. As a bonus, our GFI outlets tolerate them more, i.e., fewer blowouts and fuse resets.

A few days after Christmas, I began searching for decorations on clearance.  I had great luck at Home Depot with a sale of white LED string lights (on green cords).   I bought a couple of cases and paid an unheard of $3 a box for them. They’re usually $10 to $20 for a string of 100; my find has 150 lights over 50 feet of cord!

Nothing better than a plan that comes with a huuuuuge discount!

Mid June, I pulled out all the old incandescent string lights in the yard and wove the new ones up and down the berm…resting the cords gently on top of the plants (pretty much following the same method I used last time) however with these lights I could connect up to 18 sets (!!!) end-to-end.

Did I say I wanted the yard to be sparkly?   Mission accomplished!  Have a peek:

Wow…those buggers are really bright…at only 12 watts per strand!  When l look back at the old lights, they now seem almost too gold in color.  Still pretty, but the LEDs have finally won me over.

garden lights, patio lights, led string lights, was to light the yard, LED string lights

It may have been a little too bright at first, but the light strings have already settled deeper into the plants and it’s now more of a sparkle-and-glow mix.  I have to say it’s really, really pretty either way!

backyard string lights, led lights, fairy lighting, pachysandra

New LED lights

Old incandescent lights

How pretty? Enough that I’d consider replacing all my shrubs and plants on the pool berm with pachysandra just so I can light it the same way.

I’d still like to add similar lights to that left side of the yard. But that will have to wait for now. Pretty sure I won’t be climbing through plants for a while.

“But wait, there’s more!”

I also wanted to hang lights at a higher level: the kind of market-style drop lights you see zig-zagging their way across charming restaurants, patios, alleyways and everywhere else.

These Edison style bulbs are so beautiful,

via PartyLights.comall

but I wanted low maintenance, and again, low energy. PLUS, as I mentioned last year, I like the color/hue of all the different lights to match.

We found these Enbrighten LED Cafe Lights at Sam’s Club from a company called Jasco.

outdoor market lights, patio lights, cafe lights, hanging lights , string lights, LED lights, enbrighten

Actually, my mom found them and bought me a set for my birthday last fall and two more sets for Christmas.

I was skeptical: I thought that they’d be harsh and would lack the subtle glow of the Edison/incandescent filament lights. But the package did note the bulbs were tough and offered something the Edison-style lights don’t: a lifetime guarantee… That’s a very acceptable, economical trade-off to frequently climbing ladders to change burned out bulbs.

 

Bonus! I’m happy to say that, although the lights looked very white in the house, they look very warm and beautiful in the yard!

They are available in different lengths, although we found the 36’/18-light strand to be the best value. I purchased four more sets ($50 each at Sam’s, but they’re also available from Amazon or Walmart) and hauled out my big brother’s ladder (that I still have not returned).

This would have been a safety no-no:

Instead, Mr. insisted that the ladder be safely opened and level at the bottom so I didn’t, ahem, break something (because I was saving THAT adventure for another day.)

With each tree, I had to find the clearest path for the light strings and for the ladder… so occasionally, we had to sacrifice a small branch to get the ladder safely positioned or the lights to hang well. My goal was to hang the lights in branches with zip-ties…ideally at about 12ft, so as they swooped they would still be pretty high off the ground, and not unsightly during the day.

As it turned out, there’s really only one area where they are visible during the day, the tree foliage hides them everywhere else.

I ran an outdoor extension cord to the first tree, zip-tied it around a branch and attached the first set of lights, added more and zig-zagged them in trees around the walkway and the pool area. I also ran three sets to follow the sidewalk beyond the pachysandra berm to the chess garden.

I intended to set the lights up with regular outdoor electrical cords, then switch them to low-voltage, but my low-voltage goals may have to wait until my knee mends or, sigh, possibly next year.

We like to walk in the yard at night, especially during firefly season.  But after Jack’s skunk disaster last year and our own close call on a night walk, we feel better having the pathway lit!  And dang, they look so pretty!  Want to walk with me?


For now, between all the uplit trees, the sparkly string lights, and the market lighting, I can enjoy the yard just as much at night, all year long…and it really looks beautiful.

I’m not sleeping so well these days, so I have to say I’m very grateful for the view!

Although the whole family is excited about how the outdoor lights look, there aren’t a lot of things I do besides chicken wing dip that my oldest son pays much attention to (please, he’s 21). But he LOVES all the lights, keeps telling me so, and keeps inviting friends over for little parties.

That is all the approval I need!

9 comments

  • Wow! Em, that’s some yard. It’s like a park. Just so beautiful. I too want to get a lot of lights for the yard. We’ve run electrical under the patio, but have not hooked it up yet. Really, awesome yard.

    • EmDirr

      Thanks, Kathleen! We definitely pay more attention to the outside than the inside… I’m guessing that’s due to being cooped up over loooong winters. It’s a great outlet after a long day!

      You were SO smart to run the conduit under the patio!! We just dug under our sidewalk to carry hoses…what a job that was!

      Can’t wait to see what else you’re working on 🙂

  • What a beautiful yard! I love sparkly lights, it just sets such a great mood and ambience!

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom.com

  • Your yard looks great! I used to have all kinds of perfect lights for my backyard. Then I moved. Now I have to start over again. Ugh! You’ve given me some ideas though and I love the uplighting you did. Gotta run some power first but I am so digging that!

  • Jodie

    Heck, if your son likes them, then I call that success any day!! What an amazing back yard, Em!! I’m so impressed with all of the hard work you put into it!! And I admit, I love the LEDs better too—even inside!
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Em

      Thanks, Jodie! Climbing those trees was worth every mosquito bite!

      Big Kid’s been a great help this month…so happy he’s enjoying the fruits of his labors, too!

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