Let There Be Light!

Outdoor Courtyard String Lighting DIY

We just finished up another DIY project (this time at our venue White Oak Farms), and we wanted to share all the details with y'all.  

Here's the space before so you can see it without the lights.

Before image without stringlights

When we built the courtyard space next to The Venue, we knew that we would be adding additional lighting and landscaping to frame out this outdoor space.  As we thought about it over the winter, we decided that we would just tackle this lighting project on our own so the space would be ready for springtime events and weddings.

The reason I'm sharing it with you on this blog is because so many people have asked us if they can do it at their own homes.  The answer is YES-absolutely!  What we installed in the courtyard at our venue is something you all can do in your very own homes to enhance your outdoor living spaces.

Here's Josh explaining a little about how we this project started.

Here's what you'll need to get started:

  • Measurements of the space and a rough drawing of what you want the final installation to look like; these measurements include distances to each point of connection

  • Based on this rough drawing, you will know how many points of connection you'll have for your guide wire, as well as the length of the string lights you'll need to order

Tools, Equipment and Supplies Necessary:

  • Stainless steel hooks

  • Wire Thimble based on wire size

  • Wire Turnbuckles

  • Cable wire

  • String Lights, length based on your measurements

  • Zip Ties

  • Wire Cable Clip Clamps (2 per connection site)

  • For our installation, we also used 4 6*6*12 foot weather-treated wooden posts (purchased from Lowe's)

  • Post-Hole Digger

  • Shovel

  • Drill

  • Wire Snips

  • Concrete to set posts

  • Wood stain for the wooden posts

  • Wood stain applicator with extension brush

Our Installation Process

  1. We started by using a rough drawing of our proposed layout. Based on this drawing that Josh made, we ordered the majority of our supplies from Amazon

This drawing proves you don't have to have fancy software to lay out your design!

This drawing proves you don't have to have fancy software to lay out your design!

Here's an outline of the steps we took for the installation:

  1. We buried the 4 posts 10 feet apart and 70 feet from our building. Each post was buried to a depth of 3 ft., leaving 9 feet of post above ground. We then filled each post hole with 120 lbs of concrete and made sure the posts were level and secure while the concrete had time to set (we allowed 24 hrs).

  2. Stainless steel hooks were then placed in each post about 4 inches from the top. 5 separate hooks were then placed into our building about 13 ft up the wall and about 9 ft apart. Side note: We used silicone to seal around the hook entry points to prevent any future moisture damage where the hooks penetrated the hardy plank siding.

  3. The wire was then placed onto the building side using a thimble connection (static connection). The post side was connected using a turnbuckle connection (adjustable connection). We cut a length of cable for each span of wire using wire snips. Once the wire was connected we used the turnbuckle to tighten the wire and cut down on sagging. You definitely want to use a turnbuckle for tension. You cannot make it tight enough by pulling the wire on your own. Especially in our case where each span was 70 ft. You can watch videos on wire connections here: Wire Rope Clip Video and Choosing and Installing Wire Rope Thimbles and How to Select and Use Turnbuckles

  4. We then added the string lights starting at the highest point. In our case the highest point was on our building side. The string lights we used had eyes that were easy to connect to the wire with a zip tie. We would connect about 20 lights, and then move down to the ground and pull the lights across the wire like pulling a curtain. Then we would climb the ladder on the post side and finish the lights on that side. We would then use the same curtain pull method to run lights back to the building. We connected the lights to the wire using a continuous connection of lights (Just like on your Christmas tree). You will have to use a little math and creativity in this process so you don't end up with large gaps between light strands. The zip ties are a huge help when trying to hide extra wire. Simply double up the wire and zip tie it, if needed.

  5. Finally, we had an electrician add an outdoor GFI outlet onto our building close to the starting point of our lights and an interior switch to easily turn the lights on and off. Now, whenever we host weddings and events, with the flip of a switch, our courtyard magically lights up!

Pictures of our completed project