6 Landscape Lighting Tips

lights in yard
  • 1-4 hours
  • Intermediate
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Creating usable space outdoors allows you to gather with friends and enjoy pleasant evenings surrounded by fresh air and natural elements. So when the sun goes down, landscape lighting can enhance your outdoor space, making it both safer and more appealing.

1. Focus on Safety

walkway in grass with lights

There’s more to outstanding landscape lighting design than simply placing a few post lights in order to mark the garden entrance. In fact, a primary concern is safety, both from tripping hazards and unwanted invaders. Place lighting along all walkways including stone paths, the driveway, sidewalks, and garden areas. Use lighting sufficient to brighten the entire path for easy visibility after dark. Always add lighting to steps and handrails.

Additionally, put the light on dark areas of your house and yard, such as the side garage door and near the bottom of the deck. While you don’t want to produce an excessive amount of light when the world is dark, proper low-voltage and motion-sensored lighting will draw attention to critters in the garden, trespassers, and thieves. In addition, if you have cameras on your property, lighting will improve images.

2. Light up the Trees

tree with light bulbs in dark yard with globe lights

When you imagine landscape lighting, a well-lit pathway typically comes to mind. While that is a crucial landscape lighting element, properly lighting trees is often overlooked. Shining light on your trees allows you to enjoy them day or night. Perhaps more importantly, it adds a layer of safety that will deter predators and critters alike.

There are two basic types of ground lamps that direct light into the tree. They are both mounted at the base of the tree and are directed into the canopy. Stake-mounted lamps are attached to a stake that is inserted into the ground.

In-ground lamps are a style in which the main portion of the lamp is set directly into the ground. Stake lamps are easy to install, but may not provide the look you desire and can be a tripping hazard. In-ground lights require more precision during installation and can become covered with debris, but are nearly invisible during the day, blending into the landscape.

3. Plan for Every Corner

Every section of your yard requires consideration for the type of lighting you need. For example, pathways will rely on task lighting, with the direct aim of lighting up a walkway for safety. Overall lighting, on the other hand, provides generalized lighting for the entire space, such as motion lights on the porch or rows of solar lights on posts. Accent lighting uses spotlights or floodlights to draw attention to a feature such as a fountain, pond, or tree.

4. Pick Your Bulb Type

landscape lights in garden at night

Selecting from different types of bulbs creates vastly different results and will impact your power bill too. Incandescent bulbs are more energy consumptive and don’t last very long, although many people prefer the look of the light they produce. Halogen bulbs are a more energy efficient option and last longer than incandescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs are considered to be the next highest efficiency option and now have options for more pleasing light than in the past. LED lights, however, continue to be the best choice for a long-lasting bulb that provides extreme energy efficiency.

5. To Wire or Not to Wire

When your landscape lighting is near the house or powered shed, such as those on your back porch, you can easily plug them in. However, the further reaches of your yard make it inconvenient and unsightly to run extension cords. For any situation, consider solar lights, which are now reliably available in just about every shape, size, color, and application. Solar landscape lights are an environmentally friendly option that will also save on your electricity bill.

6. High’light’ the Architecture

stone walkway with lights

Safety of lighting walkways and stairs is central to landscape design, but putting the spotlight on architecture brings an entirely new look to your yard once the sun drops over the horizon. So remember to light up the shed, pergola, trellises, water features, and the gazebo. Also put your outdoor oven, patio kitchen, or chat set on stage with lighting that accents the space without blinding.