Glowing Orb Landscape Lights. A 5 minute, $5 DIY.

The easiest, cheapest landscape lighting hack ever.  Set a few of these glowing outdoor orbs in your backyard and they’ll have more impact than installing an outdoor kitchen and an infinity pool.  Not really. But still – they’re really nice and quick to make.

Get ready for it … this one’s a doozy.  Doozie?  Doosey.  It’s a humdinger. THIS is one of the posts that put me on the map when I started my blog over 10 years ago.  Between this post and How to Make a Personal Fire Pit I was the reigning Queen of Pinterest for the summer of 2010. Or maybe it was 2011. Either way I wore a sash and started picking out Corgi names.

All of this from old light shades and string lights.

It looks high end with a side of huge impact, It costs next to nothing, And even if being “handy” to you means replacing your regular lightbulbs with eco-friendly ones … you’ll be able to do this in 3 minutes flat.

That’s right.  Some old glass shades, some old (outdoor) Christmas lights and BAM.  You’re a backyard badass baroness.  (There can only be one Queen)

In my attempt to make my backyard a teensy bit more contemporary than my 180 year old house I ran into a few problems.  Contemporary outdoor lighting is EXPENSIVE. That’s what led me to creating my own.

If I’m gonna shell out a whole whack of cash for something in my backyard it’s gonna be on a tenderloin for the BBQ.  Or a better BBQ.  Or a talking parrot who refers to me as Princess Leia. It isn’t gonna be for lighting if I can help it.

So while perusing the local second hand store I came across some truly unfortunate stains on the carpet AND the ubiquitous opaque glass shades.  You’ve probably thrown a few out in your lifetime.  Stop doing that.  Stop it right now. 

And here’s the best part!  You know those stupid, anger inducing mini lights you have shoved in your basement?  The ones where only half of the string lights up?  Yeah, um … this is a perfect use for them.  PERFECT!

Just stick the glass shades anywhere you want and stuff them full of mini lights.   Attach an extension cord if you need to and hide it under your garden dirt or mulch.  I have my lights on a timer so they come on every night at dusk.

When I first made these 10 years or so ago solar lighting was pathetic. 3 legged dog in the rain pathetic. Now they’re a lot better and they’d be a good way to light these up as well as long as you have a place you can place the solar panel that gets a lot of sun. In the case of my backyard that isn’t a good option.

These are the solar powered lights I’d use if you have enough sun.


I pulled the HUGE orbs you see in the second photo near the top of this post out of someone’s garbage.


They look beautifull. And it wasn’t a fluke that I found these in a second hand store.  Every time I’ve gone into a second hand store I’ve noticed these shades there.  Goodwill, Salvation Army, random Bible Stores … they’re always in there.

Flea markets have them as well!  They’re usually around $1 – $3 each.

  If you don’t have a second hand store near you, you can order these shades on Amazon. But the price fluctuates wildly. Sometimes you can get them for $4.99 each for a 6″ shade and sometimes they’re over $20.  And it would be stupid to spend $10 – $15 when you can spend $1 – $3.  Right?

Plus reduce, reuse, recycle and all that stuff. If a second hand store doesn’t have them now they will, just keep checking back.

Trust me.  Queen Princess Leia wouldn’t lie to you.

p.s.  Look here to learn how to turn these same glass shades into a birdfeeder and Look here to learn how I used them in the winter!

Glowing Orb Landscape Lights. A 5 minute, $5 DIY.


  1. Debi Fraser says:

    By all means….get the Cape and definitely get a Corgi or 3! They will keep you amused more than you know! And I’m in love with your back yard!!!

  2. Christine says:

    I love this idea!! But I am having a problem. I don’t have any old outdoor lights so I bought a string of solar powered mini garden lights from Canadian Tire and when I put them in the globe you can see the individual lights, especially where they touch the glass so the look is patchy light. I have tried all 100 and also only half the string- same thing! Karen, yours look so uniform and, well, glowing! Would Christmas lights make a difference? Fairy lights? These I bought are somewhere in between those 2 sizes.

  3. Mary W says:

    This is the post that began our slightly one sided relationship. You work your fingers and body off while I sit in a recliner drinking coffee. For my part, it is very satisfying and I’m so glad I subscribed way back then. Still really love the orbs!

  4. Kat - the other 1 says:

    I thought this said “Growing Orb Landscape Lights,”
    I’m a little disappointed, lol!
    I was all excited, I can GROW landscape lights?! Awesome!
    Hahaha. ;D

  5. Lin N says:

    Did this years ago after seeing your post. Three balls, different sizes, picked up at Restore. Strings of multi coloured LED lights inside. Put them on a timer. Passerby’s can see them from the road at night. Yep…one of the best DIY hacks ever! Thanks Karen

  6. Kathy says:

    Hi Karen. I love your blog and this fantastic idea was the first diy I tried and I have had many comments from friends on the results! I did try something different though and it worked great for my backyard, I bought cheap solar garden lights and shoved them in the ground and put the globes over them! Worked like a charm!

  7. Lori says:

    This is the post that brought me to your site years ago. Amazon also sells a plastic globe shade. They’re not as cheap as the second-hand glass ones, but I’m more comfortable with them outside.

  8. Ann Roberts says:

    These types of globe light shades are almost free if you have a local Habitat for Humanity store.

    But a word of warning, some are incredibly thin and if they were to break they would leave tiny shards of glass that would be quite difficult to clean up. So look for the thicker ones. Also never leave them out if temperatures will be dipping below the freezing mark as that will also shatter them.

    Alas many of us do not have outdoor outlets anywhere near where we want lighting. I am now using lights that have a solar pack. Not quite as bright but still very pretty

  9. Pearl says:

    Best idea you ever had, especially since I don’t have a garden or chickens or care about sourdough….
    I just painted my enormous brick fireplace flat black and I just found a large white globe and looking for lights but the globe looks pretty dang cool just sitting there on the hearth. Even without lights.

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