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What are String Light Poles and Why They’re Ideal for Upgrading your Backyard

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Smiling man working in the backyard

Best DIY Outdoor Lighting Guide for the Lazy Landscaper

Finally, summer has arrived and all those perks of a warmer season: A backyard gathering of friends and family. The sweet sounds of a summer evening as crickets replace birdsong and a dog barks off in the distance, hungry for his dinner. The click and spray of the neighbor’s sprinkler. The rewarding clink of ice in your cocktail glass as you stretch out on your patio lounger after a long day.  The buttercream sunset and the first star appearing in the darkening sky. 

Dusk falls and spirits lift as the time has come to shake off the day’s responsibilities and settle into some well-earned downtime of the most uplifting variety.

But wait––your backyard isn’t quite ready for this level of enjoyment. And it’s especially not ready for dinner parties and weekend staycations, is it? You haven’t re-seeded that sparse bit of lawn in the corner. You haven’t upgraded the patio chair cushions yet. And the harsh glare of your patio motion detector light isn’t adding much ambience to your outdoor home-scape. Maybe you should take that holiday, after all, rather than investing time and money in a complete backyard overhaul.


Decorative Lights for Summer Party

Keep it Light, Make it Bright

In a long list of shoulds and haven’t yets, it’s easy to overlook simple solutions and upgrades to your home outdoor space. If you’re like most home DIYers, you tend to focus on every flaw all at once. Perhaps you can’t decide what massive project to tackle first. And while you’d love to spend some real chill time in your backyard, you’re driven to make it perfect first.

We’re here to help you change that with an easy backyard upgrade that you can implement in the morning and enjoy that same evening.  

In summer or winter, string light poles offer a way to transform your backyard or outdoor patio from a needs-improvement project to a peaceful oasis of ambiance and relaxation. 

❌ No massive landscaping project necessary. 

❌ No expensive custom garden hanging lights required. 

❌ No tacky tiki torches involved. 

❌ No kitschy Christmas lights in July.

So grab a coffee, get comfy, and take 10 minutes to read this guide on everything you need to know about string light poles: what they are, how to choose the right ones for you and your landscape, and how to install them (it’s easy breezy––we promise!)  


What the Bulb are String Light Poles?

String light pole

You don’t have to stray from home to enjoy the Great Outdoors. Your backyard, whether it’s small or sprawling, a lawn or an extensive garden, or simply a patio, has loads of potential. It just needs a little help.

The right lighting system in your backyard makes a huge difference to your home’s outdoor ambiance. Don’t let the word system scare you. String lights can be just as sophisticated as custom garden lamps without all the complication––but string light poles are a must-have prerequisite if you want any kind of elegance or versatility.

If you’ve wondered how to hang outdoor string lights across backyard space and come up blank, you’re going to love string light poles. They’re a somewhat new kid on the block in backyard lighting systems, but they’re becoming increasingly popular because they give homeowners a way to hang string lights in outdoor spaces without trees. Further, you can move them around to position your lights exactly where you want them (you can’t move trees or fences!). 

We’ll dive into the specific benefits of manufactured galvanized metal string light poles and how to install them a little later in this article. But first we want to address the difference between commercial string light poles and the ones you have to make yourself.  


The Downside of DIY String Light Poles

You might be wondering how to make a string light pole. That’s initially what set us down this path. We watched YouTube videos, read complicated DIY resources, and realized that when it comes to DIY stuff, there are two types of people: those who love it and those who love the idea of it. Can you guess which type we are?

There are two levels of DIY. The hardcore, do-everything-myself enthusiast and the weekend warrior type who wants to be a hero but doesn’t have the time or motivation and so opts for a sustainable balance between work and rewards.

You could make your own string light pole, but let’s consider what that involves: power tools, concrete pouring and setting (not to mention mixing it to the perfect consistency). Time. Effort. And probably the reluctant help of your neighbour. That’s a big investment (and a good dose of patience). 

And while you enjoy improving your backyard, you have other projects that take priority. You don’t want to spend all your time doing less-fun things, especially when there are solutions that are priced right and make it easy for you to achieve your landscaping goals.


The Benefits of Easy Install String Light Poles

Your experience as a project-bound homeowner is all the insight you need to get how rewarding the following benefits are: 

 Easy to install and move around your yard if you change your mind, rearrange patio furniture, or plant new hedges or trees.

No special power tools, materials, or building know-how required (meaning you can get your teenagers or grumpy neighbor to help you!).

No multi-page instruction manual needed to set them up (they’re easier than IKEA furniture!).

 They’re at the right price point for budget-minded homeowners who want to save the big bucks for higher-priority projects (like a new BBQ).

You can choose your favorite string lights and bulbs – warm, frosted, cool, or energy efficient (or red heart-shaped ones if they’re more your speed).

 They grant your outdoor space an immediate ambience of a cozy, romantic, timeless quality (making them great for those date nights).

 They’re weather-proofed for all climates and seasons so you can leave them standing all year round (we did say this is a guide for the lazy DIYer).


How to Assemble & Install String Light Poles

String Light Poles assembly instructions

There’s some groundwork to cover first (no pun intended!) before we can dive into how to install the poles. First, we’ll consider your landscape and how to choose the best poles, then we’ll cover installation. Finally, we’ll provide some guidance on choosing the perfect lights for your preferred ambience. But here’s a quick glance at the steps involved:

  1. Assemble the poles
  2. Prepare the ground
  3. Install the poles
  4. Hang the lights


What’s your Landscape?

Because of their multi-prong design, string light poles can be erected in virtually any ground type: lawn, soil, or gravel. However, you’ll want to ensure you’re choosing a forked multi-prong design because they secure a far stronger grip to the ground than a smooth prong.

If you want to hang the lights over your patio and have little viable ground space to work with, consider installing string light poles in planters. They’ll have to be deep, heavy planters, perhaps anchored with stone, but it is a doable method in a pinch. A good dose of creativity and resourcefulness goes a long way!


Choose the Best Poles

We have both practicality and style to consider here. We’ll start with the practical.

Galvanized carbon steel 235 features a unique metallurgical structure that gives it one of the toughest coatings and the longest lifespans. This degree of fortification resists rust and damage caused by harsh environmental conditions, like cold, snow, and ice. So, when everything else is undergoing the seasonal switch-up, you can leave the poles standing the entire year. 

Style depends on whether you want to keep it casual or gussy up your gardenscape. When researching the review stats on string light pole top styles, more people seem to prefer the simple ring shape. Possible reasons include the fact that simple is universally more versatile than say, a heart-shaped top or glam crystal ball top. But it’s more style conscious than something like a double shepherd top. 


Install the Poles

Step One: Assemble the Poles

  1. Install the pole top by placing a rubber washer on the screw top. Then screw in your preferred top piece until tight.
  2. Assemble the poles by placing rubber washers between the parts. Twist to secure.
  3. Assemble the 2-piece ground fork, and hand-tighten the thumb screw.
  4. Attach the pole to the fork, and hand-tighten to secure it.

Watch assembly instructions here.

Step Two: Prepare the Ground

1. Check for any underground pipes or wires before inserting the fork into the ground. (The standard recommendation is to position any piping below the 12-inch freeze point).

 Keep this in mind when choosing light string poles: In line with standard recommendations, most pipes are positioned below the 12-inch freeze point. So, you’ll want to ensure that your string light pole forks meet the maximum length for stability without being too long that they’ll interfere with any underground pipes. A 12-inch fork then, is the ideal length.

2. Determine your preferred spacing. We recommend 12 to 16 feet, or 3.5 to 5 meters, between poles.

 Keep this in mind when measuring distance: Positioning poles 12-16 feet or even 17 feet apart at the maximum allows for a slight dip in the string lights. A distance greater than 17 feet would result in a lower hang, while positioning them closer together allows for greater control and tautness.

Step Three: Install the Poles

  1. Loosely attached the light string to the pole top.
  2. Push the pole into the ground by stepping on the forked prongs.


Choosing the Right Lights

In addition to length, ambience is everything when it comes to string lights. But it’s also an individual style thing. Do you prefer a vintage or more modern look? Naked or caged bulbs? Cool or warm light? Frosted, clear, or candy-colored? Teardrop or globe shaped? There are a number of options to choose from, which is a good thing and a not-so-good thing. Keeping it simple doesn’t usually involve having to wade through 87 string light styles! 


We made it simple by collating the best of the bunch. Check out our picks of string lights here.


How many feet of string lights do I need?

The answer depends on how much space you want to light up and what pattern you’ll use to achieve the look you want. The shortest strings are about 10 feet, the longest 50 feet. Bulb spacing will different by brand so ensure you check that detail when comparing products to get the most bulb for your buck.


Friends at backyard birthday party

Lighten Up Your Backyard… and the DIY

Feeling ramped up and ready to reward yourself with some simple DIY for sitting this long? Refer back to this guide at any point, but especially when you’re choosing string lights or want to point a pal or neighbor in the right direction with some useful Backyard Therapy tips. 

Feel free to check our blog and social channels anytime you need a little boost of inspiration. We’re here to lighten up the DIY with easy, practical, and fun solutions for transforming your backyard, patio, or outdoor space into the perfect staycation spot. 

And we’re eager to hear your thoughts! Tell us what you love or would love to see from us. Share your own swear-by-them DIY tricks. Bring us your challenges––we’d love to help.


Author: Colleen Thornton

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