Summer is right around the corner, which means it's time to start preparing your backyard for fun gatherings with family and friends. Installing lighting and power outlets in your yard will allow you to entertain day or night, without tripping over cords or struggling to see once the sun goes down. The good news is, with some strategic planning and DIY elbow grease, you can wire your backyard for entertaining on a budget.

In this comprehensive guide, I'll walk you through everything you need to know to effortlessly electrify your outdoor living space without breaking the bank.

Determine Your Electrical Needs

The first step is figuring out exactly what kind of lighting, outlets, and other electrical components you'll need in your yard. Consider the following:


Outlets & Switches

Special Circuits

Future Plans

Choose Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting

Opting for 12V or 24V outdoor lighting over 120V lighting provides huge cost savings on wiring. Lower voltage systems:

Use Existing Wiring When Possible

Take advantage of any exterior outlets or lighting already on your home.

Smart Tips

Choose Wire Based on Location

Buried Wiring

Use direct burial wire like 12/2 UF-B to run wiring underground. It's designed to resist moisture and corrosion when buried.

Exposed Wiring

For wiring exposed along fences and structures, use exterior rated cable like THHN/THWN-2. It's outdoor safe but cheaper because it doesn't need the buried wire waterproofing.

Creative Hiding Spots

Shop Discount Stores for Fixtures

Here are some of my favorite budget sources for outdoor lighting:

Smart Tip

Replace high end fixture heads with low cost generic versions to cut costs. The wiring and bases are reusable!

Rent a Trencher

Renting a gas powered trencher for half a day is much cheaper than hiring a contractor to dig trenches. You can trench wiring lines in just a few hours!

Many home improvement rental stores charge around $50 - $100 per day for a trencher rental. It saves hours of backbreaking shovel work too.

Safety Tips

Save on Switches and Outlets

Opt for basic white covered switches and outlets instead of expensive decorative ones. Painting them later is easy to match your decor.

Buy weather resistant GFCI outlets with self enclosed waterproof back boxes. Avoid using plastic bubble covers that can leak over time.

Smart Tip

Install outlets at standard height instead of ground level boxes which cost much more. Use post mounted dock boxes when needed.

Do It Yourself!

If installed safely to code, most basic outdoor wiring projects can be DIYed without special expertise.

Handy Skills to Learn

When to Hire an Electrician

Bring in a pro for:

Work Safely!

Exercise extreme caution when working with electricity to avoid injury or death from shock/electrocution.

Hire a licensed electrician if you have any concerns about safely installing wiring to code.


With proper planning and some strategic cost cutting measures, you can successfully wire your backyard for entertaining without depleting your summer fun budget. Focus on low voltage landscape lighting, take advantage of existing wiring, and utilize DIY installation for basic circuits. Just be sure to always put safety first! Let me know if you have any other frugal tips for wiring your yard affordably. Have a wonderful summer!