My yard is large and I like to use solar lights in various ways. Our summers are short and the days themselves get shorter fast during the late summer and fall. I enjoy seeing the warm glow of these solar lamps in my planters.
Why I use solar lights in planters?
It gives dark areas a friendly ambiance
I can get some simple inexpensive lighting in really dark areas. The glow of the solar lights makes areas a little friendlier when you have young kids.
My outdoor deck is an example.
And then at night with the three solar lights glowing. These inexpensive little lights create a pretty glow outside. Normally it can be so dark that we can't see anything out there!
A closer look at the lighting.
I just love the soft glow these lights give! Actually, I use solar lights in most of my backyard planters. Some of the lights are so pretty, they add to the look of the planters. Here are a few more pictures of some planter lighting that I have around my backyard.
Safety on stairs
Putting a planter with a solar light at the bottom of an outdoor stairway is a little safety feature. Sometimes folks stay until dark and there wasn't any wired lighting down the stairs yet. The light draws the eye and the focus is the bottom step.
Even after we had lighting wired, I still did this. These little solar lights with crackled glass are so pretty!
My front door planters also get some solar lights. I don't leave my front door lights on at night. A few lights in planters are enough for me to see who is out there and to help someone see my steps. Turning a regular planter into a solar light planter is a nice safety feature for my guests!
Gentle lighting with tabletop decor
I keep a little strawberry planter full of succulents and blooming plants on my outdoor patio table. It's a nice soft light, keeping the fun mood going and so much more pleasant than my back porch light. If the gathering gets later and darker, I supplement with candles. Last year I purchased lanterns with solar-powered candles. Love them!
I will even bring my indoor solar lamp outside for the evenings!
Until the budget allows getting hard-wired path lighting, lining the walkway with planters that have solar lights in them, guide people to and from our outdoor gathering space. This is a great way to install pathway lights that are temporary or just budget-friendly into your landscape or dark outdoor spaces.
My solar purchases consist of packs of higher lumen rated solar energy lights. These have stakes which are easy to put into either flower pots or directly in the ground as pretty garden lights. The higher lumen solar path lights are a little more expensive but compared to having an electrician hardwire outdoor lighting, it's very budget-friendly and an easy DIY with lots of versatility.
Here are some 10 lumen solar lights. They are much brighter than what you buy at a discount store!
Solar carved pumpkin for Halloween
I LOVE using solar lights in my carved pumpkins. They turn on automatically at night and are so much safer than candles. I have a detailed carved pumpkin with solar lights tutorial - just follow the link.
FAQ's on buying and using solar lights outdoors
Late summer every year, I usually buy some solar lights. They are often on clearance then! Every spring I buy them and have them handy to add them to my planters.
You get what you pay for. The really cheap lights (think dollar store) are great for a season but rarely last long. I consider them disposable.
Lumens - This is the term that tells you how bright the solar lights are. The cheap ones are usually 1-5 lumens. I love the ones that are 10 lumens. But those get more expensive. My more expensive solar lights usually have an on and off switch. I gather them in the fall, clean them and store them in my basement. Living in the north, I find the cold winters can really damage the rechargeable battery life if left outside over the winter.
Charging your outdoor solar lights -Make sure your solar panel is in an area that regularly gets enough sunlight to obtain a full charge. The instructions that come with your lights will tell you how many hours are needed (usually 6-8 per day). My solar lights do charge on overcast days but not as well.
String lights - solar powered string lights have not worked well for me! If you find some that charge and light up for more than an hour or so, PLEASE do let me know.
Planter idea posts - I have many posts to help give you some flower planter ideas. Here are a few of my more popular ones.
Over 25 Flower Planter ideas
How I put together my flower planters
Paint a fun black and white planter container!
Let me know how you have used your outdoor solar lights! Have I missed any great ideas?
(Originally posted Sept. 19, 2014 & updated many times)