Creative Outdoor Patio Lighting & Curtains DIY + Patio String Light Ideas

Get creative with your outdoor patio. This DIY project added patio lighting and curtains to our outdoor sitting areas without using any electricity. It was done over a span of a couple of weeks (mostly waiting on Amazon) and with a few simple steps we had instant outdoor privacy. I’ve also included some amazing string light pole ideas as well as other options for your outdoor patio lighting. See how it’s done below…

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How to create patio lighting & privacy

This amazing DIY project using plastic Dollar Store whiskey barrels and cedar posts creates instant patio lighting and privacy for two of our outdoor areas. Let’s face it, no matter where you live you can never get enough privacy. Am I right or am I right? 

Using the plastic barrels instead of digging post holes was a great shortcut. They were super inexpensive at around $18 each and gave the patio a rustic look. The original plan for creating privacy was to use drop cloth curtains; however, none of the drop cloths I found were long enough and would have required me to add grommets. Therefore, I ordered my durable, ready-to-go curtains from Amazon. Get the exact curtains HERE.

what fabric is best for outdoor curtains?

  • 100% Polyester fabric for durability
  • Polyester is water repellant, mildew resistant fabric
  • Stainless steel grommets avoid rust outdoors
  • Order 2 to 3 times rod width for proper look and fullness
  • Make sure they are easy to spot clean since they will be outdoors

step by step tutorial for creating patio light poles

Get your supplies ready. We used the following:

Supplies available online for Outdoor Patio Lighting & Curtains are listed below

 

  1. First screw on the solar light caps onto your cedar posts and twist on your solar lights as shown.outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy solar light cap outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy light installation
  2. Next, build wooden braces for your poles or alternatively you can use l-brackets to screw them to the bottom of the barrel.outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy close up bracing outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy close up bracing outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy bracing for concrete
  3. Mix up your concrete per the instructions on the bag and pour around the poles into the barrels. Allow to cure the recommended time.Concrete for patio lighting 
  4. While waiting on your concrete to set, you can add drainage holes to the four sides of the barrel if desired.  I am opting for faux plants, but drainage is always a good thing either way. drilling holes for DIY patio lighting
  5. Once concrete is dry, add a half bag of small pea gravel rock for additional drainage.  Sitting water attracting mosquitos is the last thing you want outside on your patio. 
  6. At this point, it’s up to you.  I opted for adding faux boxwood wreaths to my barrel, but you can easily add potting soil and beautiful seasonal flowers to yours. In oder to get the wreaths to go around the poles easily, cut them with snippers as shown.outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy snipping wreath outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy wreath close up snipped
    outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy wreath in barrel close up
    Close up of layers with pea gravel

    outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy wreath in barrel

  7. Finally, add your aluminum poles by screwing them in place with the stainless steel flanges. Be sure to do this step in the following order: screw in  both flanges, attach one end of pole, add curtains, attach other end of pole. Optionally, you can tie back the curtains with decorative rope or more practical bungee cords.outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy pole installation

Once you hang the curtains, this outdoor patio DIY is in the books! What do you think? Want to spruce up your outdoor patio area with lighting and privacy curtains? Give it a try, you’ll be so glad you did!

 

outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy curtains drawn

outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy day time

outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy night time
Nighttime view of patio lighting
outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy curtains open
Patio curtains open for privacy

other ideas for patio lighting 

Add string lights to your posts and plant planters like my friend KariAnne at Thistlewood Farms did with this gorgeous patioThistlewood backyard patio lightingAnother idea is to add string lights to galvanized buckets with simple poles to light up a pathway like this one below by Homesthetics.

patio string light ideas

Add outdoor mosquito repelling tikki torches in place of your posts. As seen here placed in the middle of cute decorative planters and add pretty seasonal flowers for an altogether different look to outdoor patio lighting by StonegableBlogoutdoor tikki torches patio lighting

how bright should patio lights be?

Once it’s completely dark outside, it doesn’t take a lot because a little bit of light goes a long way.

Below is a list of recommended LED lumens for specific outdoor lighting:

  • Step lights: 12-100 lumens
  • Hardscape lights (on walls): 50-185 lumens
  • Landscape lights: 50-300 lumens 
  • Path lights: 100-200 lumens
  • Landscape spotlights: 120 lumens
  • Lamp posts: 120-180 lumens
  • Pond/pool lights: 200-400 lumens
  • Motion sensor lights: 300-700 lumens
  • Flood lights: 700-1300 lumens

Most patio lighting is purely decorative, though some lights are added for security. Most often, the lights used for a patio are string lights, outdoor wall lights, post lights or outdoor hanging lights. These lights are typically meant to be less bright, and thus require the use of bulbs that emit less lumens. 100 lumens is considered bright enough for most patios. That is equivalent to about 20 watts. If you have large windows near your patio that let the indoor light out, you may use even less light. 

These are the EXACT Solar Lights we used for our outdoor patio lighting. They were only 10 lumens each, but we used seven of them and they light up the patio areas sufficiently.

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outdoor patio lighting & privacy diy curtains drawn
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5 from 5 votes

DIY Outdoor Patio Lighting & Curtains

Add solar lighting and durable curtains to your outdoor patio. Additional string light pole ideas to make your patio amazing.

Materials

  • 4x4 cedar posts
  • 8 foot aluminum poles
  • stainless steel metal flanges
  • concrete
  • wooden stakes
  • plastic whiskey barrels
  • pea gravel
  • Faux Boxwood Wreaths 
  • Solar Lights

Instructions

  • First screw on the solar light caps onto your cedar posts and twist on your solar lights as shown.
  • Next, build wooden braces for your poles or alternatively you can use l-brackets to screw them to the bottom of the barrel.
  • Mix up your concrete per the instructions on the bag and pour around the poles into the barrels. Allow to cure the recommended time. 
  • While waiting on your concrete to set, you can add drainage holes to the four sides of the barrel if desired. 
  • Once concrete is dry, add a half bag of small pea gravel rock for additional drainage.
  • At this point, it's up to you.  I opted for adding faux boxwood wreaths to my barrel, but you can easily add potting soil and beautiful seasonal flowers to yours. In oder to get the wreaths to go around the poles easily, cut them with snippers as shown. 
  • Finally, add your aluminum poles by screwing them in place with the stainless steel flanges. Be sure to do this step in the following order: screw in  both flanges, attach one end of pole, add curtains, attach other end of pole. Optionally, you can tie back the curtains with decorative rope or more practical bungee cords.
     

Notes

 
 
 

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34 Comments

  1. Arlene Focht says:

    Your patio looks amazing. A lot of work but so worth it.

    1. southerncrush says:

      Yes, so worth it! Thank you!

  2. Love your idea. We have a huge back porch and the sun is so hot from 2-6pm in Louisiana. We already have cedar pillars as our post. We used the same way as you to hang the curtains. After a few years we needed to replace them and just left them off. Thank goodness because with Hurricane Laura, Beta and now Delta, the curtains would have ended up Arkansas….. love your crafts too♥️

    1. southerncrush says:

      YES! That is why we used bungee cords to wrap them around the cedar posts when there are storms coming…

  3. Love love love this look! What size whiskey barrels did you use?

    1. southerncrush says:

      Dollar General size! LOL I have no idea it’s whatever they had.

  4. 5 stars
    Love it. The best I’ve seen so far. Thanks for sharing this wonderful project to us.

    1. southerncrush says:

      8 foot cut down to 7 feet

  5. 5 stars
    So, when you had the post cut and went to screw it into the flange, did you allow just enough room to not screw it all the way in do you could take them down to wash them.
    Also have you washed them yet and how did they do.
    I just had my Arbor roofed with tin 2 weeks ago and may add curtains too !!!
    Thanks!!

    1. southerncrush says:

      I have not washed them and I don’t intend to… they are in my far backyard and they get rained on a lot so I guess that’s good enough for me… LOL!

  6. 5 stars
    Where did you fine the aluminum poles? I cant seem to find them anywhere.

    1. southerncrush says:

      They have them at Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores

  7. Beth Conaway says:

    I love this idea!

    1. southerncrush says:

      Thank you! It really turned out just like I imagined!

  8. Do these tip over with windy days?

    1. southerncrush says:

      Not at all with the books inside the bottom.

  9. How have the plastic barrels held up with the concrete? I would love to save on the barrels and not have to use the $$$ wood ones, but I am afraid the concrete would expand and break them. Praying you have had good results

    1. southerncrush says:

      They are holding up! We get very strong winds, too!

      1. Awesome! I just found some of the plastic ones for $15 which saves me so much money over the wood ones. I was just concerned they might not be strong enough. Thanks!

  10. Dorothy Brown says:

    Love this idea, with so many flowers in my garden I don’t need them in the barrel. The wreath is a good idea

    1. southerncrush says:

      I would definitely spray the wreath with a sealer as mine did fade from sunshine. Thank you for reading!

    2. How much quikcrete did you use? This is exactly what I’m planning for our fire pit!

      1. southerncrush says:

        How fun! It depends on how many barrels you’re making. We mixed enough concrete to fill about halfway up the barrel–about half a bag.

  11. 5 stars
    I love the curtain privacy for your patio. One question I have is how you replace the curtains when they need changing out?

    1. southerncrush says:

      You unscrew the poles to change out the curtains. It takes two people.

  12. Elizabeth Santiago says:

    Does the length of the post matter? I see you cut down from 8 ft to 7. Will 10 foot post hold up in the plastic basket with concrete?

    1. southerncrush says:

      As long as your curtains aren’t too heavy, the height of the post should be fine.

  13. 5 stars
    Thank you for the inspiration! I used your plan to build an oasis on my small condo patio that is squeezed between condos. Love the space and the privacy, day and night!!

    1. southerncrush says:

      You’re so welcome! Your plans sound amazing!

  14. Thanks for the tip about how I could also opt to use solar power when planning to get decorative patio lighting. I’d like to start setting up a new patio in my property because I want to start making better use of the outdoor spaces in my property. As such, I will also need to get better lighting for that.

    1. southerncrush says:

      You’re so welcome!

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