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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beautifying The Garden - Easy, Inexpensive Solar Lanterns

It’s summer time and everything moves outside - except for around here, where everything starts to move inside! We do, however, have the privilege to spend most of the rest of the year in lovely temperatures and outside, including the “Winter” when everyone else is holed up!

Just lately, I’ve been gardening a lot, turning much of our unused patio and portions of our yard into planting areas for fruits and vegetables! I have been growing things in the odd container here and there, the last 3 years or so, but I really want to kick this up a notch or three and grow a lot of our own stuff!

We do get a double growing season around here, which is great (Spring and Fall) but this year I am also trying to grow at least some things through the blistering heat. It requires a lot of babying of the plants, especially in the early stages and some creative use of shade clothes and watering techniques.

So far, so good, but with temperatures of 120 F in the forecast, things are getting pretty dicey out there!

Since we can’t be outside much and the kids are of course on summer break, we’ve been making things for the garden inside.

My kids totally delight in rock painting, which we have done several times now.




They love the walk around the neighborhood, hunting for the roundest, smoothest and biggest (or smallest) rocks.

And they love the actual painting - and then the playing with the finished product, as well as placing them all over our garden!


And I’ve been busy making other things for the yard, mostly inspired by a variety of pinterest pins I have collected over time,  which I will be sharing with you over the next little while.

The first little project I want to share with you, are quick and easy solar lanterns. Very little effort and a lot of savings by doing it yourself, even if you purchase all the components!



You will need:

These mini solar stake lights. I purchased 12 and with shipping and tax, they came to $1.80 each. If you can find them at your local Dollar Tree, they’ll be even cheaper!

Mason jars (1 pint, with lids and bands)



I got the  Heritage Collection Pint Jars at Target for $10.99. As  I wanted blue lamps, that worked out pretty well. If you can’t find them at Target anymore, they are also available here.

You can also do it with different lights of course, but these happen to be the exact size of the mason jar band, meaning you just need to wedge them in the band, with no glue or anything, screw them on tight and you are done!

If it seems a little loose, you can  put a ring of hot glue around the inside, where the band meets the solar light. If you get a lot of rain where you live, you may want to do that anyway, so the rain won’t fill up your jar over time.

Mine worked out just perfectly, so no glue was needed!

I put the band (minus the lid) on the jar and screwed it on loosely.



Then I took the stake off the solar light and dropped the top in through the band.





Then I tightened the band and that was it! The light settled into a nice and tight spot. But not so tight that I couldn’t get it out again!



Then I just made a little hanger with some wire by wrapping it around the lip of the jar a couple of times, wrapping it around the side and up to be joined into a hoop.





And that’s it!



Twelve solar lanterns for $3.70 each. Not bad, considering that the solar lids alone usually retail for $11 and up ... each! And then you still have to provide the jar, which would add another dollar or so to the final cost!

I put mine on Shepherd’s Hook Stakes all over the garden! Not only do they look lovely, they have functionality since we have a lot of raised beds and containers all over the garden now and it helps to know where the corners are, when it gets dark!


Other notes:

  • Of course you can also use these without the hanger for table decoration or just by placing the jars all around your garden.
  • Or you can use the  more inexpensive clear mason jars, which also make a beautiful light.
  • Or you could color your own mason jars by thinning out glass paint with some nail polish remover!  Just pour it inside your mason jar (band and lid taken off!) and swirl it all around to cover the inside as evenly as possible. When you get to the top rim, don’t be afraid to help it along with your finger a little. It will even out once it dries. Once your have coverage, turn the jar upside down on a kitchen towel and let the rest of the pain drip out.  Once it stops dripping, remove the paper towel/scrap paper, give the jars a quick twist on a clean kitchen towel to remove any glue residue from the top rim and allow the jar to dry completely.          Don’t just leave it to drip and dry in the same spot though, as you may find yourself peeling and scraping stuck kitchen towel off!
  • There are several tutorials all over the internet which use mod podge or Elmer’s glue and food color to tint glass. Those methods work great, however, if these solar lanterns are going outside, that method won’t work. It flakes in the sun and it washes off in the rain, even when applied to the inside of the jar!

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  1. Its really great. Solar Lantern can use instead of kerosene lamps.

  2. I realize it's been a few years since you posted this, but do you remember the brand of solar lights that you used? The ones that I am able to find in the stores around here seem to be too small to fit (anywhere near) snugly in the mason jar lids. ( unless the Heritage jar lids are different from the regular Ball lids.)

  3. I don't remember what brand particularly, but I got them at the Dollar Tree. They are no longer at their website, however, so I'm not sure if they still carry them!


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