Hello friends! While we may be #quarantining it up right now, that doesn’t mean that Spring isn’t in the air. And that means summer is just around the corner. Here at the Fiddle Leaf House, we spend so many days and evenings out on our patio as the weather gets warmer, so adding some light and ambiance was key! If you can believe it, these wine barrel market light posts were our very FIRST DIY in this home when we moved in 3 years ago! I wasn’t blogging back then, so I didn’t take any photos. But when we replaced our original faux wine barrels for real ones this past summer, I took a few photos of the process for you! This is a GREAT quarantine project because you can order materials online and then try out your local hardware stores curbside pickup for the bigger things, like the whiskey barrels, dirt, and plants. Many local nurseries are also doing local delivery right now too. And of course, if you’re reading this after #quarantinelife is over, then all you have to do is make a quick run to your local hardware store to pick up everything you need!
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What You’ll Need:
- half wine barrels (get genuine ones if you can – we got our’s at Lowe’s and they are already cut in half for you) – the genuine ones last WAY longer than the faux ones
- black trash bags
- 2″ ABS pipe (ours are 8 or 9 feet tall I believe – choose your height based on your space, keeping in mind the market lights will droop slightly)
- 2″ ABS pipe caps
- small buckets (about 1/2 the height of your wine barrels)
- quick set concrete
- heavy gauge wire (you can purchase by the foot at your local hardware store)
- small cup hooks (2 per barrel)
- stainless steel wire clamps (2 per barrel)
- potting soil
- plants of your choice
- market lights – the exact ones we have have been discontinued, but THESE by the same brand are very highly reviewed, as are THESE (closer in style to ours) by another brand.
- power drill + pilot hole style drill bits
- super glue
- black spray paint
Quickly, before we get started, let me say this. I have seen similar projects done in many different ways, the most common being using wood posts that are attached to the bottom of the barrels. Let me tell you WHY we did this project differently. Over time, your barrels WILL rot – they are wood, and it’s inevitable. Same with any wooden post – over time, the post will give out. Sure, it might be several years, but how annoying to have to completely remake the entire project. And what a waste too if only the post or only the barrel is rotting! The way we did it, with the ABS pipe inside of a bucket, you don’t have to worry about this. First, the ABS pipe is plastic, so you don’t have to worry about rot. And when your wine barrels eventually rot (we predict the genuine ones will last 4-5 years), all you have to do is remove the plants/dirt, pull out your buckets/pipes, and place them into new wine barrels. Replant, adjust your heavy gauge wire, and you’re good to go. We had to do this process last summer as I mentioned because our faux barrels rotted, and the original project time was cut in less than half!
And now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started!
Step 1: (this step is easier with 2 people)
Cap one end of your ABS pipe. Mix up your quick set concrete. While one person holds the ABS pipe in the middle of the bucket, the other person should pour the concrete. You’ll have to stand holding the pipe for about 10-15 minutes, but with quick set concrete, it shouldn’t take too long before it has hardened enough to let go. Repeat for however many barrels you are making.
Once the concrete has set up enough for you to move the bucket/pipe, do so. Move to an open area where it won’t matter if you get spray paint in the surrounding air. Before painting, screw your cup hook into the top of the ABS pipe and secure with super glue. Give the super glue about 10 minutes to set up, and then spray paint your PVC pipe/cap black. We only did this because ABS pipes generally come with writing on them, which we didn’t want to see. Allow to dry.
While your paint dries, you can prepare you wine barrels. Using standard black garbage bags, line the inside of your barrels about 1/3 of the way up. We did this to help prevent rot at the bottom. However, you still need a place for water to escape, especially during those crazy winter rains! So drill several holes in the middle of the sides of the barrel. We drilled about 8 per barrel, most of which are on the backside facing into the grass. We did this so we don’t have dirty water spilling onto our patio all the time!
Once your ABS pipes are dry, place your bucket and pipe in the center of the wine barrel.
Attach your market lights by placing them in the cup hook at the top. Here, you can see our lights are attached to the outside of the house as well. You don’t HAVE to do this. You could always make 3-4 of these wine barrel market light posts and connect your market lights in a big triangle or square without having to worry about drilling into the side or your house.
You’ll notice here that the pipe isn’t straight – dont worry, we’ll fix that in a minute!
Fill your wine barrel up with potting soil, leaving about 3 inches at the top.
OPTIONAL: Before adding dirt, you can prop your barrels up on risers, which will also help prevent rot. This is helpful if you live in a particularly wet climate.
Wrap your heavy gauge wire around the top part of the ABS pipe, above your cup hook. Use one of your stainless steel wire clamps to secure tightly. Cut off any excess wire, so that you have one short end and one long tail of wire.
Now screw another cup hook INTO the inside of your wine barrel, open side facing down.
Step 8: (this step is easier with 2 people)
Pull your long tail of wire down and through the cup hook you just drilled into the inside of the wine barrel. Pull tightly to the point where your ABS pipe is standing up straight. There will be pressure on the pipe because your market lights are pulling on it. This wire is being installed to counter-balance that pull of the market lights. Secure the bottom of the wire with your second stainless steel wire clamp. Leave about 2-3 inches of excess wire, and then trim. After many months or various weather (especially wind) you will occasionally need to adjust your wire to pull the ABS pipe back into place. You will always make that adjustment at the clamp inside the wine barrel, not at the top. Having a couple of inches of wire at the bottom will help make any future adjustments easier.
Add a bit more dirt to cover the wire/clamp. Plant your barrels with whatever you like and give them a good water! We replant ours every Spring, and I enjoy getting to swap out the flowers for a different look each year!
Wait for dusk and then turn those babies on! Instant ambiance and pretty flowers to go with it!
OPTIONAL: Tie paper lanterns to your lights for some extra ambiance!
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I hope these help you enjoy your outdoor space just a little bit more! Comment below if you make your own wine barrel market light posts – I’d love to hear about it!
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Thanks so much for sharing.
Working on this project now with my 16 y/o daughter. Having a lot of fun with her and seeing how she is connecting the dots with pipes, concrete, tensioning, levels, etc.
I used the plastic water cooler jugs. I cut them to size on my table saw. There is a company near my house that throws out 2 dozen or so per week that have cracks/broken handles, so I have an endless supply for the taking.
I am also going to add turnbuckles for when I have to tighten the pole.
That’s awesome Jon! What a fun project to do with your daughter – so glad you are both enjoying!