Back Yard Surprise

So, this year for Father’s Day, I wanted to to do something special for my husband. I had ordered a back-of-the-door basketball hoop for his office on the drive home from a last minute trip down to Orange County (that he didn’t want to take, but did anyway because he’s a loving dad and hubby)… and it just didn’t feel like enough to say, “thanks for being the great dad you are,” (read: have fun shooting hoops alone in your office while you bring the bread home every day forever). SO I went to the god of ideas: Pinterest. Being summer, there were lots of posts about back yards, and ours is one of the saddest yards I’ve seen. it’s huge, for the size of our house, but kinda odd, and SUPER un-useful. Jordan and I have talked so many times about what we’d LIKE to do back there but just don’t feel like it would be a responsible use of our income at this time… So I thought it might be nice to at least make a small improvement by creating a space to enjoy the outdoors and maybe make the yard a bit more useable.


Now, my husband is a bit of a scrooge… he doesn’t like to spend money unless it’s on wine/dinners out/ experiences, so I knew for this to TRULY be a gift he appreciates, it would have to be done inexpensively… again, Pinterest to the rescue!

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 5.45.22 PM

I came across some pins my sister had told me about a while back and thought they would be perfect: Planter String Light Posts! Party lights make any space feel a little more magical, so it would be a great way to create BIG impact, with little cost… so I used the tutorial on I Should Be Mopping The Floor’s blog. I altered mine a bit- we didn’t need such large posts, and I used plastic barrels rather than the real deal. I had also been in need of a STURDY umbrella stand. I bought an umbrella last summer and was using a cooler to keep it up until I could get a nice one (the cheap kind didn’t hold it up at all), and so I thought this planter post idea could totally work as an umbrella stand! I searched Pinterest and found a few posts that had done exactly that.

Off to Home Depot I went, with my dad in tow, to get all my supplies! Mind you, I thought of this just 4 days before Father’s Day, so I needed to get on it quick!

I needed supplies to make 2 string light posts and 1 umbrella stand.

Planters (real or fake wine/whiskey barrels)   $20-50 each
Wood Posts- 2 x 2 x 8 (1 per string light post) $2 each
Hooks $2-5
1 1/2″ x 2′ ABS/PVC Pipe  $3
50 lb Bags of Cement (2 bags per planter)   $2.50/bag
Potting Soil   $10/bag
Flowers   $3-10/plant
String Lights   $20/strand
Wood Stain $4
Stain Application Vehicle (rag/sponge)
Shovel or Hoe (to mix cement)
Drill Bits

1. Place planters on level ground near where you’d like them set up as they’ll be heavy and hard to move once cement is in. Pour cement in and mix with water one bag at a time. Add the second bag and more water, then mix to the right consistency listed in instructions. Be careful not to over water your cement!

 2. Set your pipe/posts in the center of the barrels. We let the cement set a bit before adding the pipe/posts. Here, you can see I taped the bottom of the pipe so cement wouldn’t get in it (I want the umbrella to set all the way at the bottom of the barrel). Use your level on the top and sides to make sure it doesn’t lean- particularly the pipe for the umbrella! You won’t notice a little lean with the posts, but you will with the umbrella.

3. Tape the pipe in place.
4. Find something to lean against your posts so they won’t easily be moved/toppled. Let the cement cure for 48ish hours before adding soil/flowers. You should be fine to stain and drill after 24 hours.

5. Optional: Stain or paint your posts. I used BEHR Semi-Transparent Weather Proofing All-in-one Wood Stain & Sealer in Cappuccino. I just used one coat.

I am so glad I took the time to do this! It was SUPER fast and easy, and it really gave them a nice color- somewhere between cedar and redwood.


6. Get your hooks and drill/bits… use a bit slightly smaller than the screw you’re using. I used Everbuilt Screw Hook #6, and a 5/32 multipurpose bit. Drill the hole at your desired height for the light strands on your posts. Screw in your hooks.

7. Then drill drainage holes in your barrel so the water from your plants has somewhere to go! You’ll want to drill them at the level of the cement or at an angle through the cement and side of the barrel (you may need to switch to a masonry drill bit). I did 8 holes spaced out fairly evenly all around.

8. Time for Flowers!! Finally!! When picking your flowers, try and pick what will survive your climate and water conditions- consider if you’re adding drip or watering by hand, sun exposure, etc. I am a major nube at gardening… Haven’t been very successful thus far, but I really WANT to learn and have beautiful flowers! I had a lot of fun wandering around Green Acres smelling and seeing all they had to offer. I really had to hold back and focus on the planters. I got mostly geraniums for the planters, and couldn’t resist the lavender and purple sage for my yard.


Just add some soil to your planters, remove flowers from their plastic pots and massage the roots a bit before placing them in the planter. Fill in around them with more potting soil, give them a good watering, and make sure the drainage holes are draining!

Above, you can see I used Lantana Bandana Cherry Sunrise & Salvia flowers (2 of each plant) in the umbrella stand since they’ll likely get more sun than the others.

And here are the geraniums in the the light post planters…. I did 3 geranium plants per post planter.

9. String up your lights! I had my hands pretty full hanging the lights and stapling them to the house, so I didn’t get pictures of this step, but, it’s pretty self explanitory. I also purchased a remote outlet for the lights so i don’t have to unplug and plug them in constantly…. SO GLAD I did, because the outlet is under the eaves of the roof, so I would have needed a step ladder every time. Highly recommend!

10. Final step: accessorize your space 🙂 I used 4 chairs with 2 small tables and some solar powered lanterns for the lighted area, and 2 adirondacks with pillows for the umbrella area. I’ll be adding a coffee table/ottoman in the center of the 4 chairs next.

The End Result:


And that’s it…. our yard is now slightly nicer, slightly more useful, and the parts I see out the windows of the main parts of the house all day look a heck of a lot more inviting. I’m sure I’ll have more outdoor projects to come after this. I’ve already got my eye on a hammock stand tutorial!


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