Landscape Lighting Ideas To Illuminate Your Outdoors

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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One of the things homeowners should prioritize when designing their homes is the lighting. Installing lighting fixtures in the right places will illuminate a beautiful façade and yard landscape come nightfall. Excellent illumination gives life and beauty even to the simplest, smallest homes. 

Instead of settling for run-of-the-mill lamps positioned in random spots in your yard, try some attractive outdoor lighting designs. They can be an excellent way to turn your modest home into a magical wonderland, causing passers-by to stop to take a second look.

If you’re hoping to upgrade your home’s landscape lighting in different ways, check out these factors to consider and the cozy landscape lighting ideas you can implement:

Unique Landscape Lighting Ideas to Enhance Your Outdoor Space

1. Spot Lighting Ideas

Image Credits: ledlightings.cn

This is also known as landscape lighting or up-lighting. Most people install these lights under trees, plant pots, and other landscape features. They’re perfect for showcasing the accessories and ornaments on your lawn. Therefore, try the spotlighting technique if you have something in your backyard you’d like to shine an upwards light on.

Bullet-shaped landscape lights are excellent for tall garden features like topiaries and palm trees. The beams from these fixtures are long and often adjustable to your desired angle. They’ll add height to these decorations and give them a warm glow.

On the other hand, use well lights for short objects like shrubbery, small stone formations, and statuettes. These are round fixtures installed into the ground, which keeps them generally unseen. Only their shorter light beams are visible to illuminate their subjects.

Spotlighting is also a fantastic way to bring light into your living walls. The light beams accentuate your flowers and can intensify their colors at night. When up-lighting your living wall, ensure the fixtures are at a decent distance. Avoid installing them too near because they could affect your plants’ growth or too far, so your wall won’t receive enough light when it’s dark.

Landscape lighting is slightly more challenging to install than other light fixtures since the lights are on the ground. If you’re not confident installing them, don’t hesitate to call a professional home lighting company. The pros will know exactly where and how to put your desired light fixtures and may suggest other lighting techniques to give your home that spark of life.

2. Under-Cap Lighting

Image Credits: kichler.com

If you have stairs, landings, or pillars in your lawn or backyard, these could benefit from having some under-cap lights around. These fixtures, called bench lights, shine their beams downward to accentuate stairs, walls, and other parts of your landscape design.

They’re the best way to display the materials the garden features are made of and add more dimension and depth to spaces. Aside from the aesthetic element under cap lights, they’re also an excellent safety feature. Unlit raised platforms, stairways, and lawn firepits may cause serious injuries, posing a liability risk.

But with these light fixtures installed on the stairs, you can walk through safely without worrying about missing a step or tripping. Mounting them on the lip of your firepit brightens the ground underneath and adds a halo effect around the fire.

3. Wall Lighting

Image Credits: homesandgardens.com

Practical and ambient outdoor wall lighting is a must for any home landscape. Even if you don’t have a huge yard to illuminate, lighting up your walls from the outside is recommended. Having lights on your front door or patio provides a lovely welcome for guests when they come over for dinner or when you come home from work.

Wall light fixtures come in many forms and varieties:

  • Traditional wall lanterns
  • Bulkhead lights
  • Barn lights
  • Floodlights

Most homeowners may choose sconces where the bottom of the bulb isn’t covered. When you have these, you can mount them high on your walls or pillars so the light shines downward.

However, make sure to pick designs that match the style of your home. Modern and contemporary fixtures may not flatter a Colonial-style house like an old-school wall lantern. But the decision of form over function is all up to you.

4. Security Lighting

Image Credits: safewise.com

This type of illumination is another wall lighting with a more defined purpose. Security lights have the brightest beams to expose and deter potential robbers from entering your property. It makes would-be trespassers think there’s someone inside since unlighted homes are more prone to break-ins and thievery.

While security lightbulbs tend to be bulky, it isn’t impossible to incorporate them into your landscape’s aesthetics. It’s best to get outdoor floodlights whose light beams are not too harsh, like those emitted by regular security bulbs and lamps. They should be fine as long as the floodlights properly illuminate your main pathways, front yard, or back entrance.

When selecting security lights, consider getting two to three-bulbed ones with passive infrared (PIR) sensors. These fixtures turn on only when people or cars pass close enough. Some are so advanced that they don’t detect animal movement. Or you can pick ones with a timer, so it lights up and turns off at a specified time. Solar-powered versions are also available if you prefer bulbs that don’t run on electricity or batteries.

Installing adequate security lighting on your home’s blind spots is another safety measure. Mount the lights on exterior walls and direct floodlights towards your driveway or the more spacious areas of your property for maximum protection.

5. String Lighting

Image Credits: christmaslightsetc.com

String lighting often comes in low-voltage bulbs with yellow lights to evoke a warm and casual ambiance when lit up. Some types, like fairy lights, are thin and dainty. When positioned correctly, they can give a magical feel to your garden.

You can use string lights outdoors in many ways since they’re versatile. Wrap them around tree trunks to emphasize their height. Hang ends from tree to tree to add more lighting to a larger space with less effort. Attach them to eaves and over any outdoor spot in your property meant for leisure activities for a more intimate feel.

You can leave your electric bill worries at the door with string light brands that offer solar-powered, battery-powered, or rechargeable versions. These types do not need plugging into an electrical socket to work, so you don’t have to bring out those bulky extension cords that could ruin your garden’s aesthetics. Waterproof ones also ensure they continue lighting up correctly even when it’s raining.

6. Deck Lighting

Not every home has a deck. But if yours does, you can enhance its beauty with lights. Deck lighting prevents accidents and brings attention to your lawn’s best features.

Image Credits: cidermilllandscapes.com

If your deck has a railing, line up string lights along it to frame the shape and add lighting and ambiance that’s perfect for evening drinks. Mount the fixtures near the edge of a raised deck for the lights to protect you and your guests from falling over when it gets too dark outside. Well-lights are also a lovely addition to the steps leading to your patio. These fixtures don’t get in the way of foot traffic since they’re supposed to be level with the flat surface.

You could opt for portable light sources like artificial candles and battery-powered lamps and mix and match them to your deck’s other light fixtures to make them more attractive. Place them beside nearby plants and a dining table to turn your patio into a peaceful garden sanctuary.

7. Pathway And Driveway Lighting

Image Credits: desertcart.co.ke

Your property’s pathway is like a red carpet leading to your home. The same could be said of your driveway. So, it’s vital to put path lights on these areas for easy navigation when the sun sets. Light along your walkways and driveways provides illumination. It also offers security to guests visiting your home since unlit paths typically evoke a sense of danger and the unknown.

Most small spotlights and well-lights suit any path or driveway design. However, choose low-voltage ones so you can save on energy costs. But you could also select bollard lights which double as outdoor decorations.

Some lightbulb options even have stakes that can easily stick to the ground. Install them by lining them up at equal distances along your path. You may need a measuring stick to help you get the proper measurements.

8. Pool Lighting

Swimming pools are the best places to make use of outdoor lighting. Water is reflective, and if you position your light sources correctly, the water could illuminate a larger area.

Underwater light fixtures are usually fiber optics, halogen, or light-emitting diode (LED) enclosed in waterproof material. When turned on at night, they can turn your pool into another light source, brightening up the place while giving you a mini show of dancing shadow waves against adjacent walls.

Image Credits:betzpools.com

If you have an arbor or pergola, don’t forget to mount some lights there, too. Even if you decide not to install lighting in the pool, the surrounding illumination can give a calming vibe. String lights can also play a role in lighting up your pool. Hang them overhead to have a starry sky at your next pool party, even when it’s a starless night. Use the string lights to highlight the outline of nearby structures or tall plants, which the pool water will reflect

9. Garden Lights

Image Credits:gardeningetc.com

Enjoy the beauty of your landscaping even at night by adding garden lighting. When deciding on the best garden lighting options, consider your purpose. Whether you have a large garden bed, vertical garden space, or container plants, get inspired with these garden lighting ideas.

Place the garden lights in natural areas to show the world your favorite and most beautiful plants. They're almost like beautiful mushrooms of light. The light goes downwards and slightly out. This way, everyone will see the plants instead of spots from looking at a bulb.

Garden lights come in different forms;

  • Globe Lights
  • String Lights, Hurricane Lanterns and Fire Pit
  • Front Yard Lighting
  • Outdoor string lights
  • Stake Lights in Flower Beds

Things to Consider When Choosing Landscape Lighting

Your outdoor spaces present the first impression of your home; therefore, you need to create a welcoming atmosphere and offer a perfect space to relax with friends and family. Lighting is a huge part of the house's landscape.

The following are the top considerations when choosing lighting ideas for your outdoor space.

a) Technology

Technology is a significant consideration in selecting landscape lighting in modern times, from Bluetooth-controlled color-changing lights and smart timer lights to home assistant-controlled lighting. Automating your lighting system by integrating smart technology to get full control at your fingertips is very easy.

b) Size of Fixtures

Image Credits:groundsource.pro

The size of your lighting fixtures should be proportionate to the dimensions of your house or garden. While large fixtures are more noticeable, oversized fixtures will upset the proportionality of your overall property and degrade its appearance.

c) Safety

Landscape lighting not only adds to the visuals of your outdoor space but also enhances security. It is essential to add light to the dark paths in the exterior of your house to reduce the risks of accidents caused by poor illumination.

You can also go for bright lights with higher wattage and fixtures that spread light over a larger area, allowing you to illuminate all your dark exterior regions effectively.

d) Purpose

What you intend to use in your lighting system should dictate the landscape lighting ideas you choose for your home. This will ensure you get the most out of your lighting system and use it to the fullest extent. For example, simple pole lamps with low-wattage lights are perfect for illuminating garden paths, while colored lights work best for decorative purposes.

e) Light Colors and Intensity

The light color and intensity play a significant role in setting the mood of the outdoor space. You should consider less bright and deep-colored lights for relaxation and decoration and opt for bright colors to create a lively ambiance with high visibility.

Also, ensure that your light color blends well with the environmental colors. Generally, it would be best to prefer yellow lights to bring out the richness of the surrounding colors on your landscape and white light for maximum brightness in working spaces.

f) Design and Color of Fixtures

The landscape design and colors must be compatible with the style of your home and requirements. Contemporary designs better suit modern houses, while classic designs go well with traditionally designed ones.

Image Credits:.outdoordesignbyoz.com

g) Cost Efficiency

LED lights offer higher cost-efficiency in the long run than other outdoor lighting. Moreover, using low-wattage lamps will reduce energy consumption. While solar lights are ideal for avoiding electric consumption altogether, they come with high one-time costs.

Another great way of lowering the power consumption of your landscape lighting system is utilizing unique fixtures that concentrate light in a particular direction, allowing you to illuminate only the areas you need with low-wattage lamps.

h) Durability

High-quality LED lights and enclosed metal fixtures are more durable and should be your first option whenever you are looking for long-lasting solutions. It is ideal to use LED lamps with only the required intensity depending on their intended purpose and fixtures that protect the light against environmental forces.

i) Location

There are three locations for outdoor light installation; dry, wet, and damp. Differentiating between dry, damp, and wet-rated lights is important to ensure safe outdoor lighting installation.

Damp-rated lights are good for areas without direct water, snow, and rain exposure. Such locations may include outside the bathroom window or outdoor kitchen. Contrarily, wet-rated outdoor lights are designed to withstand heavy rains and harsh breezes. You can install these devices in pergolas, verandas, and exposed gazebos.

Finally, dry-rated lights are suitable for areas far from dampness, such as covered patios. It would help if you also considered the prevailing weather conditions in your region before installing your lighting systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Image Credits: outdoordesignbyoz.com

1. What is the most common landscape lighting?

The most common types of landscape lighting are pathways and walkways lights. They can be spaced along a pathway or used to frame an area or feature in your yard. You can also line them down a walkway, around a pond, or outline your driveway.

2. How many lumens do outdoor landscape lights need to work well?

The greatest range of outdoor lighting needs is between 12 to 1300 lumens. However, the brightness most people want will change based on the location of the lights. These locations can be:

  • Path light (100 lumens).
  • Step lights (100 lumens)
  • Floodlights (700 lumens)
  • Security lights (700 lumens)
  • Underwater lights (200-400 lumens)

Image Credits: countryliving.com

3. How do you illuminate landscape?

Landscape lighting placement varies in the ways utilized. It includes the following;

  • Accenting: Accenting draws attention to a featured object, such as a statue, and uses up-lighting or down-lighting to focus attention on the thing.
  • Shadowing: This happens by illuminating the background surface to cast an often magical set of shadows to appear on walls or the exterior of a building.
  • Silhouetting: This lighting creates a dramatic effect at night in your landscape by placing a spotlight behind the landscape feature, aiming it at a wall or fence behind it.
  • Highlighting: It provides shape, color, and form using this landscape lighting style by placing your spotlight at the base of what you would like to feature.

Image Credits:forbes.com.

  • In grade: It is often installed at the base of a stone wall or other hardscape feature. Usually, well lights are often installed flush with the surface.
  • Down lighting: It creates a directly illuminated area at the base of the structure that the fixture is attached to.
  • Up-lighting: It is excellent for featuring objects or contrasting shadows and light for varying depths of a structure's wall, creating a stately and majestic appearance.
  • Moonlighting: It creates a glow similar to moonlight. It is produced by placing light fixtures high inside the foliage of a tree, angled down.

Image Credits:thespruce.com

4. What color should landscape light be?

Warm White (2700k) is the most preferred color temperature for landscape lighting because it is more welcoming. However, there are also other color preferences that you would choose from. They include:

  • Very Warm White (2200K): This is used for romantic, low-key settings such as outdoor fireplaces and hot tubs.
  • Warm or Natural White (3000K): It points out greens and blues in vegetation.
  • Cool White (4000K): used to illuminate blue vegetation and to stimulate moonlight.

Image Credits:1800lighting.com

5. How far apart should you place landscape light?

Preferably, put your lights six to eight feet apart to ensure your pathway remains bright and well-lit. However, spacing them even closer is an option, particularly if you want to display vivid effects.

6. How do you plan outdoor landscape lighting?

Creating an exterior landscape lighting system is a fantastic way to add beauty and safety to your home garden, walkway, and entrance areas. Therefore if you are planning to buy landscape lighting items, it is essential to put things in order to avoid incompatible components. These include:

  • Determine what exterior sector or objects you want to illuminate
  • Choose the suitable lighting techniques
  • Select the fixtures and accessories that give you a fancy outcome
  • Go for a power supply with a low voltage
  • Pick suitable bulbs for lighting

Conclusion

Image Credits:environmentaldesigns.com

When picking lights for your home’s landscape, quality is always better than quantity. Too many lights can overwhelm anyone and drown out the features of your front yard, while too few won’t illuminate much.

It’s all about proper placement. If you know where to put your landscape lighting and which light sources to use, you can turn your home’s exterior from plain and dismal to a stately home and spectacular at night.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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