The Best Backyard Lighting Ideas You Can Install on a Budget

Lighting your backyard doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve rounded up backyard lighting ideas that you can either buy affordably or DIY for free. As you browse these outdoor lighting ideas, you are sure to find one or more that will fit your style and beautifully illuminate your outdoor spaces when the sun goes down.

All of these easy-to-install backyard lighting ideas will create evening ambiance in your backyard, whether it is Dining Alfresco, entertaining, enjoying family night or quiet time simply relaxing after a busy day.

Vintage string lights on deck to dine in a soft glow of light.
White corded vintage string lights with Edison bulbs.

Spread Lighting Around Your Backyard

Ways to Use Outdoor Lighting
photo: Pinterest

When it comes time to choose lighting for your backyard, follow the same room lighting formula you do when adding lights inside your home. Remember to place a few different types of lighting around the space at every level – lanterns on the ground, candle votives on tabletops, and outdoor pendant lights suspended overhead will make your outdoor space look and feel magical. 

Backyard DIY Lighting Ideas

Many homes have exterior lights mounted on their homes by a door or spotlights that shine into the backyard. These are great to have, but when entertaining they don’t add the right ambiance.

Ambient lighting is what will make the space usable and festive at night. It will become a part of the yard decoration as well, just like the flowers you place on a table and outdoor furniture.

Cozy fall outdoor decor on lake side deck of a home

Besides the illumination outdoor lighting can add when enjoying your backyard at night. Another reason to add outdoor lights to your backyard is that even when you’re not outdoors, outdoor lighting can help the indoor rooms with windows and glass doors feel larger; giving the impression that the indoor living space is extended.

Backyard Lights Made Using Repurposed Items

Some of the most budget-friendly ways to create ambient DIY outdoor lighting for your backyard or outdoor living space can be made by repurposing items you would throw into the trash into stylish outdoor lighting. Here are a few outdoor lighting ideas to inspire you.

Wine Bottles & Glass Jars

DIY Mason jar vase to go around an umbrella hole and pole on a patio table

The glow of candles placed in glass holders to protect them from the wind on an outdoor dining table will provide the perfect mood lighting. Without their glow – the table would have little ambiance for your guests.

Using a glass cutter, you can cut the tops off of recycled wine bottles to create this type of candle holder that can also be used as flower vases. They work perfectly when you have a Round Umbrella Table and want a centerpiece for the table.

Jelly jars with candles in them around an umbrella pole on a dining table.

Glass jelly jars also work well as candle holders to provide soft lighting on a table or along a deck railing.

photo: How To Do It

When using glass jars you can use one or more for a soft glow or group together in multiples to create more light.  As an option to votives or tea lights, purchase floating candles and add water to the jars to create floating lights.

decorative outdoor candle lanterns to make

Oversize pickle jars can be repurposed into larger Candle Lanterns. Wrap the jars with cord or rope and adhere to the glass with glue.

photo: CasaSugar

Another easy to make an outdoor candle holder that can be made in minutes is using wine glasses. Place a the glass/candle at each place setting. Even without the shades – stemware alone makes very festive votive or tea light holders.

Tin Cans

Painted tins can outdoor lights lined up on wall.
photo: Lowes Creative Ideas

Tin cans are easy to find in your recycling bin. Use an awl and hammer to punch holes in them to create a design on the can where the light will come through. Then spray paint any color. Line a railing, walkway, or garden with them.

Outdoor Chandeliers

Outdoor candle chandelier

You can make a knock-off of a Pottery Barn Candle Chandelier using a brass thrift store chandelier bought for a few dollars.

A hanging light fixture like outdoor chandeliers work best with battery-operated flicker candles so even if it is windy, the candles stay on. Once made, you can simply hang it from a pergola or tree branch in your backyard with chain and a hook.

Wire basket hung from tree with mason jar candle holders inside.
photo: Sunset

Or make a DIY Mason jar chandelier by placing a few of the jars in a wire basket. Hang the basket using chain and fill each mason jar with a candle. For added style, hang a few glass crystals from the bottom to reflect the candle light.

Mounted Mason Jar Lanterns

Hang mason jars or punched tin cans from a tree, fence, arbor, a swing arm flower planter bracket, or even a curtain rod bracket.

Hanging Globe Lights

Glass light fixture globe turned into a outdoor hanging light

Glass globe lights like this Hanging Lantern made using a ceiling globe fixture can be hung alone on a mounted bracket on an exterior wall or from a tree branch to add illumination to an outdoor space.

Stake Lighting

Outdoor lighting that is mounted on a stake or pole can be made to whatever height you need. Low to the ground lights are great for walkways, where taller lighting will provide more light to the overall space.

DIY outdoor lantern with glass globe made using a tuna can.

For backyard parties or weddings, this staked Tuna Can Lantern looks more elegant than a TIKI torch. It is made with a tuna can, a glass hurricane or drinking glass found at a thrift store.

A home's front walkway lined with DIY lighting made using soda bottles.

Landscape lighting doesn’t have to be wired into an electrical outlet or run on batteries. These DIY Pathway Lights are made by recycling plastic soda bottles. The use tea lights or votive candles to provide just the right amount of light needed.

Modern Backyard Lighting

how to make a Restoration Hardware outdoor fire column knock-off. DIY lighting ideas that don't require and electrician.

If your backyard decorating styles leans to a more modern vibe, this Restoration Hardware’s knock-off Concrete Fire Column looks just right. It is made using concrete and cardboard tubes.

Ready-Made Backyard Lighting Ideas

If you don’t have the time to make your own DIY backyard lighting. Below are a few outdoor lighting ideas that you can purchase.

TIKI Torches

Outdoor Entertaining Ideas using TIKI torches.

TIKI torches are a classic staked-style outdoor lighting option for a backyard. They come in many styles from the traditional Polynesian bamboo to more modern metal designs.

outdoor dining on small table

They even come in tabletop styles that are fueled with the same TIKI torch oil.

Outdoor String Lights

The-Handmade-Home Backyard string lighting over patio

Photo: The Handmade Home

If you don’t want to use candles or lanterns to illuminate your back yard, look for strings of white wired Christmas tree lights to drape from a railing, trellis or pergola on a porch, patio, or deck. Use cups hooks to hang string lights.

String lights come in a variety of bulbs and covers from classic miniature, star shape, globe and vintage Edison style.

photo: Best Coolist

Another way to use string lights is to wrap Christmas lights or rope lights around trees in your yard. Run the extension cord that is connected to the house to create a magical glow to a seating or dining area.


Wood candle lantern on fall decorated outdoor table

Lanterns come in many styles, colors and price points. They are easy to move where ever you need them. They are popular to use outdoors even with real candles since the wind won’t blow them out inside the lantern.

Solar Lights

Most home improvement stores, Target, and Walmart sell inexpensive solar powered walkway lights that are on stakes. They are simple to use.

Place these around your garden, porch, deck or garden. Most of these solar lights have caps so that the light shines down and won’t be glaring.

Solar lights or path lighting with stakes don’t have to be only used along walkways. They can be used in planters to light up as patio lighting or on a porch or deck at night.

Backyard Deck Lighting Trick

outdoor deck lighting idea on a budget

This deck lighting trick uses solar lights without their stakes to create step lights. Attach “u” shaped brackets on the outer side of deck stairs to place the lights in.

I hope browsing through these backyard lighting ideas will inspire you to create your own unique lighting so you can enjoy your backyard even after the sun goes down.

Backyard Lighting Resources

10+ backyard lighting ideas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Awesome ideas! But how do you control the mosquitoes? I have 2 great outdoor spaces (with lighting), but no longer sit outside because of all the mosquitoes (I live in central Texas). Sadly, citronella doesn’t really work on our mosquitoes down here.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim – We have mosquitos here, midges and more. To combat them, I only use candle light outside and a few down lights in the planters. I make sure there is no standing water anywhere like in a watering can, but the main reason I can sit outside and not get bugged is that we have a service that sprays a non-toxic spray over our bushes and lawn. They come every 3-4 weeks from March until October. The companies slogan is Enjoy the outside again. And it is true – we can enjoy being outdoors at night. :-)

  2. These lights have become my favorite. We’ve never maintained our outdoor lights before, so I think that we’ll just go ahead… Thanks for sharing.

  3. I am solar light maker and hope can make more solar light as these kind of designs

  4. Diane! We do professional light for a living out in NY, but for fun we always have DIY activities with our friends customers and family making outdoor lighting. This are awesome ideas im taking a few haha :)

  5. lois vasquez says:

    i absolutely love your outdoor lighting ideas i am trying to find some inexpensive & beautiful crafts for our church gals to do together i found it! thanks so much

  6. I like these lighting ideas and designs. Some people think they need bright studio lighting outside (might annoy the neighbors), but this is so much better. Soft and soothing. You could even bring out a telescope if you have one. :-)

  7. ashley @ the handmade home says:

    awe thanks for the love, friend! Hugs to you + let’s talk soon!!! ;}

  8. Diane, I can remember when you first posted the idea for the candle holder out of a tuna fish can ! :-) I am always amazed how you can transpire something ordinary into something very chic. I visit your blog daily for inspiration. I love that you often share affordable projects. I would love to see you offer suggestions for affordable DIY art for the home.
    Have a wonderful Memorial Day!

  9. I love these ideas! It would be so easy to customize any of them, too. One of my favorite finds recently… rope lights clipped under the inside of your deck railing. I am trying that one this year! I think I might try the globe lights too. They’re so pretty.:-) thanks for all of these great ideas

  10. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Yes, you sure are right about all the questions/comments and they happen ALL year long too, cause I read them….. grin.

    I am about to revisit the concrete one….. that just sounded way too difficult to me way back when, but I am getting more nerve about trying harder to do stuff now. The thing to me was mixing it…… heavens it was hard for me the couple of times I tried to make some decorative concrete paths….. gave up REAL quick on that one.

    And I have a question….. how do you find concrete that is affordable today? I almost fainted dead away when told how much it was lately.

  11. Kat Powers says:

    I love outdoor lighting! I can’t wait to go home today and hang up my new string globe lights. I’ve been wanting to hang some since the first time I saw the tv show “Parenthood”. In the opening credits there’s a shot of an outdoor farm table with lights strung all over. I LOVE it! I’m also planning to make some of your hanging globe lights to hang from shepherd’s hooks. I’ve been DIY’ing a bunch of outdoor lights made from upcycled glass shades. I posted the tutorial on my blog a while back (if you’re interested):(
    Thanks for the great ideas! Hope you have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend.