String lights around a patio add so much warmth and can serve a practical purpose by adding lighting at night. But what if you don’t have any structure to hang them from? Here’s how to create a pretty, yet functional place to hang string lights or even a shade cloth for your patio!
- (2) tall planters (similar*)
- (2) 4x4s*
- fast-drying caulk*
- (4) fast-setting concrete (similar*)
- potting soil*
- pretty plants
- string lights*
- shade cloth*
- (4) turnbuckles*
- (4) screw hooks*
You’ll want to get tall planters so they’ll be able to hold enough concrete to keep the posts from toppling over in a light breeze. The planters I used easily held 2 bags of concrete each.
Set and Pour
Set your planters in place before you get to work. While you may be able to move them, you won’t want to move them after the concrete is cured!
To keep the concrete from seeping out of any cracks or corners of your planter, apply a thin bead of caulk and smooth it out with your finger or damp paper towel. Doesn’t have to look pretty! I opted for a fast-drying caulk so that I didn’t have to wait to move on to the next step.
Now set your 4×4 post in the center of the planter. It should be able to stand up on its own while you grab a bag of fast-setting concrete!
Pour the contents of 2 bags equally around your post, but leave room at the top for plants later on. I’d say leave around 5-6 inches minimum!
Add water to the concrete according to the package directions. You don’t have to stir it. But I always like to grab a stick and poke the concrete a few times to help the water disperse to the powder at the bottom. Dad calls this ‘jugging’.
Check for Plumb
After you add the water, set your level agains the post and move it until it is plumb left to right and front and back. Because the concrete sets up so fast, you don’t have very long to correct it. I like to check it and shimmy it into place, then come back in 4-5 minutes and check again to make sure it’s staying put.
Since I was making 2 of these planters to outline our rectangular patio, I worked on the next planter while the first one cured.
Then I was able to circle back and start decking the first one out!
Add Hardware, Dirt and Plants
To actually hang lights and a shade cloth, you’ll need hooks at the top of your post. First use a small pilot drill bit (smaller diameter than your hooks) to drill a hole. I put mine on the corner of the post.
Then manually screw in your hook until the threads are all recessed.
If you’re adding plants on top like I did, you’ll need drainage! Eyeball the top of your concrete and drill a small hole just above it. The same drill bit used for your hook should do!
Once that’s complete and it’s been at least 30 minutes since you added water to your concrete, you can start adding dirt and plants on top!
I love ‘Creeping Jenny’ for it’s green and yellow color and the fact that it grows so fast and spills over the edge! It also seems to do well in shallow planters.
Watch the video above for the ins and outs of how I hung a shade cloth, then you’re good to go for hot summer days and late fall nights. We attached our string lights to the edge of the shade. But this project would work by running the lights by themselves too!
Thanks for Checking In! ~Chelsea
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