Many of us wish we could have outdoor lights glowing year-round; sadly, knotted electric cords and high energy bills hold us back. Thankfully, technology has advanced. Today, I’d like to share how I made a DIY fairy light tree with Starbright’s solar-powered string lights that could stay on year-round. Having solar-powered lights eliminates the need for long electric cords. This project was sponsored by Starbright.
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This 5-foot fairy light tree is the perfect size to stand on your covered patio/porch surrounded by greenery or flowers. Making your own fairy tree is only one example of how you could use solar-powered lights. There are many other creative ways to use them.
How Starbright String Lights Work
Starbright has many designs of outdoor solar lights. Today, we are going to focus on their solar LED string lights.
Here’s how they work:
- First, you place the solar charger somewhere they can consume direct sunlight.
- Then, you unravel the durable string lights and place them wherever you’d like them.
- Finally, you enjoy your rechargeable lights as they automatically turn on at night, transforming your backyard into a wonderland.
Let me tell you a little more about these lights and some special ways you can use them.
Three Reasons String Lights are Perfect for Your Backyard
First, these string lights are water-proof. Sprinkler system? Heavy rain? Snow? No worries.
Second, the Starbright string lights are solar-charged. That’s right, not just solar activated, solar charged. This means no high electrical bills and no ugly orange power cords.
Third, the wires for these lights are stringed on and are super versatile. Unlike normal Christmas lights or traditional outdoor lights, these lights can be contorted into small shapes or grand designs.
Just what can you do with these lights? Let me give you a few suggestions.
Creative Things to Do with Starbright String Lights
Let’s go over this list of lovely and practical things you can do with these Starbright lights.
Here’s the list:
- Lace them on trees, hedges, and fences
- Use them to mark nighttime hazards
- Decorate for an outdoor party
- Home safety
Why You Should Cover Your Backyard with String Lights
A warm fire in mid-winter, a candle on your counter during late summer evenings, twinkling lights at Christmas; there is something about these gentle lights that calm the soul.
So, why not add some of this charm to your backyard? You can string these lights anywhere.
Mark Nighttime Hazards with String lights
Are you always tripping over that garden fence while taking the dog for a late-night potty break? Line that fence with twinkling lights. You’ll never run into it again.
Decorate for an Outdoor Party
With the coronavirus still here, the word is outdoors. If you are planning an outdoor gathering, take advantage of your Starbright lights. Make sparkling arches and string them over a patio.
Your guests will be delighted with the inviting hue of warm light.
Outdoor Light is Good for Home Safety
Outdoor lights make your home appear more lived-in and much less approachable to would-be wrongdoers.
Time to Complete
Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size. See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – Find a Tree Twig
First, you’ll need to find a small tree or a bush to use for this project. If you don’t have any trees in your backyard, you could go for a walk in a park and find some dead twigs that might have fallen. Or you could find a dead bush that has pretty curves. The tree could be as small as 2 feet tall to as tall as 5 feet tall.
We have a large cherry tree in our backyard, so I found a good section to cut for this project. The total height of my tree twig is about 5 feet. Since I’m using two solar string lights, five feet tree worked out perfectly.
If you’re going with a smaller tree, you’ll just have the lights closer to each other, which is not a bad thing.
If you can’t find any good tree twigs around where you live, you could also purchase them at the store or on Etsy.
Step 2 – Trim Unnecessary Branches
Once you find the perfect tree or a bush, trim off any small branches that you don’t want. Also, cut off any leaves or buds so you’re left with just a tree twig.
Step 3 – Wrap the Branches with Aluminum Foil
Next, take Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil and rip small sections about 4″ wide, and wrap it around the tree twigs. Start from the bottom and work your way up the tree. Overlap the wrap so you don’t have any bare tree branches visible.
Step 4 – Cut Boards for the Base
Since this is an outdoor project use pressure-treated wood to build the base. Take 2×6 and cut four pieces to 10″ in length using a miter saw.
If you have a smaller tree, you could make the base from 2×4 boards instead of 2×6. You don’t want to have a huge base on a small tree.
Step 5 – Drill a Hole for the Spike and Cut the Angle
Two of the boards should have a 5/8″ hole to support the solar panel. Measure and mark 2″ from the bottom and 1 3/4″ from the left edge of the board. Clamp the board to your workbench. Then take a 5/8″ drill bit and drill a hole in the center of the mark. Take the spike that holds the solar panel and insert it into the hole to make sure it fits snug. The spike is also 5/8″ in diameter, so you should have a snug fit. Remove the spike and move on to the next board.
Once you’re done with drilling the holes, cut off one end of each board diagonally. Measure and mark 4 1/4″ from the top left and 1″ from the bottom right of the board, see picture. Draw a line diagonally connecting the two marks. Then rotate your miter saw to match the diagonal line and cut it off. Repeat the process to cut the reaming boards to the same measurements.
All four boards should have the diagonal cut, but only two boards should have holes for the solar panel spikes.
Step 6 – Assemble the Base
First, take two of the boards with holes and attach them together with 2 1/2″ wood screws. See picture for orientation. The back of one board should line up with the top diagonal angle of the other board.
Finish attaching the remaining boards of the base.
Step 7 – Paint the Base
Take exterior white paint and paint the base all the way around including the bottom. Or any other color you want.
Step 8 – Attach Tree Branch to the Base
Insert the tree branch into the center of the base. Depending on the size of your tree trunk you will need to fill in the extra space with scrap pieces of wood shims. Drive in a 2 1/2″ screw through the base and into the tree trunk on all four sides so the tree is firmly secured to the base.
Once the tree is attached to the base, do a final paint touch-up to cover the screws and the wood shims.
Step 9 – Attach Solar Panel to the Base
Insert the spike into the 3/8″ hole and then clip on the solar panel. Adjust the solar panel so it’s positioned at the same angle as the base and then tighten the nut. The solar panel should not be loose.
Step 10 – Wrap the Wire with Lights Around the Tree
Now take the copper wire with the lights and wrap it around the tree trunk and the branches. Start from the bottom and work your way up to the very top of one of the branches. Then keep on wrapping back down to cover all the branches.
Repeat the process with the other copper wire with lights. If you have extra wire leftover just continue wrapping through the branches again. You are done with the DIY Fairy Light Tree with String Lights.