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. Lindsay says:

    This is such a good idea!So amazing for a for a front door or back steps is what I’m thinking.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Lindsay – Yup … I’ve moved them all around the yard and house! If you search for my “outdoor planters” you’ll see how I used them in my holiday planters. ~ karen

  2. Bridget says:

    I just found you through Pinterest, I love this idea, so simple yet stunning!! Way to go! I wish I hadn’t thrown out those half lit light strands last winter! I will be trying this a soon as I find some orbs. Did you already make the winter version?
    Oooh, I bet it would look awesome with colored lights??

  3. Susan says:

    I love, love, love these lights. I also love that you made them out of things that readily available and *CHEAP*!!!

    You have a new fan in me ;o)

  4. Teresa says:

    I love this idea! I’ve actualy bought two new lampshades as there don’t seem to be any in the junk shops (I’m in the uk) ….would you believe my mini christmas lights have way too many lights on the string (I was jamming them into the shades and still had loads left over!)….so I am going to have to buy some new ones….. I don’t care though as it will still work out cheaper than buying new garden lights…..I hope!

    • Karen says:

      Teresa! My mini lights were too long too! Just keep adding more shades until you have enough to accommodate all the lights! Or bury the lights under mulch. That’s another way to go too. :) ~ karen

      • Teresa says:

        Ok… good idea! (better than just breaking the extra lights – which I had thought of doing…. :-S)
        Love this website btw…have passed on to friends.

      • Karen says:

        Thanks Teresa! I can use all the readers I can get. ~ karen!

  5. Cindy says:

    I LOVE the way these look! You’re so smart!

  6. Lovely! Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Sarah says:

    Wow! I love this! This past January I bought solar powered mini lights from Canadian Tire – I might have to dig those out and use them! Perfect solution, when you don’t want to run power cords, I just bought a house and I am fixing up our yard, it was a mess, and this is just what it needs to bring it up another level. Looks like I am stopping by Habitat for Humanity after work today!

  8. Cerise says:

    Fantastic idea! I’ll be on the hunt for those glass shades! I already have a box full of those silly Christmas lights.

  9. Laura says:

    Thank you this is perfect! I want to have my wedding in a clearing in the woods. I want to have the path to the clearing lit with different kinds of things producing white light. These are perfect! I am going to use this idea for sure!

    Thank you so much! I love them!

    • Karen says:

      Laura – You’re welcome! I think a wedding in the woods sounds beautiful. You’re right! These orbs would be perfect. (provided you have a source for electrical) ~ karen!

  10. Angela H. says:

    Oh, this is awesome. I’m totally pinning it — and I got here from the CRAFT blog, which is also awesome.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Angela! I’m actually going to show yet another fantastic thing you can do with these orbs on Thursday! ~ karen

  11. Holly says:

    I can’t wait to see what you do with them in the winter, but for now I’m going to try this for the summer. So glad I found your site through Marys Meanderings.

  12. Toni says:

    Hi, Karen! I just found your website from Kimba at A Soft Place to Land. I love this project! I am totally non-handy around the house. (I could be if I really wanted to, but I hate reading directions, trying to get precise measurements, etc. I make my husband do it! I can change light bulbs and kill roaches, ants, and spiders though!) I have been looking for a lighting solution to line the walkway to our front door and this would work perfectly. Off to Goodwill this week to look for the glass shades. Thanks for sharing!

  13. kate says:

    Really an awesome idea! I would like to do this in my garden area that is nowhere close to an outlet…I’m going to see if I buy really cheap solar garden lights to provided the light source…not sure if it would be strong enough to be pretty through a globe though…we’ll see. Thanks for showing it, so nice!

    • Karen says:

      Kate – You’re right, the solar garden lights are usually pretty dim. Hopefully you can find some that are strong. I think the ones that run of a separate panel as opposed to having the solar panel on the top of them are stronger. Plus that way the solar panel won’t be shaded. (if you get solar lights that have the solar source on top of the light, it’ll be covered up and not getting enough sun if you put them in the glass shades. Good luck! ~ Karen!

  14. mary says:

    What a fantastic idea! Would you mind me sharing this idea on my blog with a link back to you?

    • Karen says:

      Sure Mary! And thank you for asking! Just make sure to not post my whole post! When you do that, nobody comes back to my site to visit. (I did a post on how to properly re-post stuff a week or so ago) Glad you liked the orbs!

  15. Kristine says:

    Oh my goodness thank you so much for sharing. I am going to do this in my backyard! Thank you!!!!

  16. JenniferH says:

    I was wondering… have you tried doing these with multi-colored lighting, or other color strings (like orange around halloween?) I might have to try this in my yard!

    • Karen says:

      Jennifer – That’d be a good idea for the holidays. My backyard is kind of “fancy” so I prefer the white for my yard, but colours would work for other, more casual backyards. I’m curious about what the multicoloured lights would look light. Hmm. ~ karen

  17. S says:

    Okay, I gotta ask… do you think the lighting keeps the slugs away from your hostas?

    • Karen says:

      Huh! That’s a good question. My chickens recently demolished one of my hostas. And I mean demolished. I wonder i the lights would keep THEM away! I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out this summer! I don’t have a HUGE problem with slugs to begin with but I always have a few holes. ~ karen

      • Bambi says:

        In regard to a problem with SLUGS…..I had this problem in the past and learned that if you use a little beer in bottle caps or other small vessels (metal glass jar lids) placed near or under whatever plants that they disappear.
        Slugs love strawberries and other plants and evidently it is the smell or taste tht drives them away (any beer works).
        So now you have a use for discarded bottle caps that you used to throw away….and they are easy to find and re-use.

      • Karen says:

        Hi Bambi. Thanks! I’ve actually tried the beer and you’re right it does work. The problem I’ve had with it is whenever it rains you have to go out and empty the drowned/drunk slugs. Maybe I”ll have to make little tents to go over the beer caps. Like tiny little beer gardens eerywhere, lol. ~ karen!

  18. Absolutely LOVE them!!!

  19. Chera Logsdon says:

    These are beautiful!!! Can’t wait to go to my local thrift stores to look for some of them to make for myself….Thanks for sharing:))

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Chera! I’ll have even more ideas for these orbs in the summer so keep a lookout for them. :) ~ karen

  20. I forgot to mention i LOVE your writing style! You are a very talented writer. Thanks for the entertainment and crafty ideas at the same time!
    Kristy of

  21. FABULOUS!! GREAT idea. I stocked up on those mini lights for $.37 each after Christmas at Walmart. I didn’t know why.. NOW I DO! Thanks kristy from my crafty thrifty diy blog

  22. theaxx says:

    this is ingenius!! i love it! ha!


    Spoonful zine.

  23. Rosanne says:

    Well I’m only a year late, so I’ll try this fab idea this summer. I thought the moon was so bright last year, turns out, it was all the orbs alight because of you. I love this, especially the part where you say “reduce, reuse, recycle and all that crap”. Bah!!

  24. Robin Jensen says:

    I’m so doing this! Also, You are hilarious!!

  25. Judy says:

    How about using the battery operated mini lights??I’ve done those in wine bottleswith greenery around& on top!!

    • Karen says:

      Judy – Give it a shot! You’d just have to make sure you got strong enough lights that would glow through the opaque glass and I’d probably do something to ensure the batteries were waterproofed if you kept them outside. Put the battery pack in tupperware or something. :) I like the plug in lights because I know they’re meant for outdoor use and I can put them on a timer. ~ karen

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