How to String Up Regular Light Bulbs for Vintage Garden Lights

Use 60-watt bulbs for garden lights with medium bases.
Use 60-watt bulbs for garden lights with medium bases. (Image: Clear lightbulb image by simbolocoma from

Before the use of lightweight string lights with plastic cables, people strung up full-size light bulbs for garden or holiday displays. Today you can achieve that vintage look with the use of "commercial grade" light strings with a medium base that is used with regular light bulbs. When you string them up, though, light manufacturers recommend not relying on the string that the lights are attached to to hold their weight. To prevent injuries or breakage, you'll need to include an additional cable.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Wire cutter
  • Lag bolts
  • Pliers
  • 1/8-inch galvanized steel cable
  • Commercial light string with medium base
  • 60-watt bulbs

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Measure the length of the area where your lights will be hung, using your tape measure.

Use a wire cutter to cut a length of galvanized steel wire about double the length of the area you want to hang lights in. This will account for the looping of the wire when the string is hung.

Secure a lag bolt (with eye hook) on each end of the string location, and anywhere else in between where a bolt can be secured, such as a pergola or gazebo beam or outdoor tent pole. Use a pliers to slightly open the bolt eye.

Thread your steel cable through the holes at the top of each bulb housing.

Hook the steel cable through the lag bolt holes.

Use your pliers to close the holes in the lag bolts, to keep the cable from blowing out of the hole in windy conditions.

Screw 60-watt bulbs into the bulb housings.


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