Landscape Lighting Ideas

See how the pros use outdoor lighting to highlight landscape design and beautiful exteriors.

1.Eye-Catching Light

Thoughtful landscape lighting is a treat for the eyes. “You want people driving by to take a second look because what you’ve created is interesting,” says Chris Mitchell of landscape lighting firm NiteLiters in Owensboro, Ky.

2.Mark Parameters

On this walkway, the offset lights have considerable distance between them, leading the eye naturally down the path. Some are located entirely in the garden bed while others cast light onto the path. “They give you just a little bit of information,” says Jeff Dross of Kichler Lighting in Cleveland. “You simply need an idea of parameters so you can navigate through the area. Keep in mind that there will be a fair amount of natural moonlight at night to help you as well.”

3.Mix Light Styles

Using different styles of path lights in the same scheme can help you avoid the “good little soldier” look. Be sure to clean the lamp surfaces and check for burned-out bulbs at least once a year, and relocate the stakes if plant growth has blocked their light output.

4.Add Color and Texture

Path lights are visual aids in a dark space, but they also add color and texture if you place them near interesting plants. This way, you can retain pieces of your garden’s charm long after the sun sets.

5.Indirect Lighting

Seating areas benefit from moon lighting or lighting installed high overhead because there are no harsh bulbs at eye level and it creates a cozy, intimate feel. “No one likes to feel as if they’re on stage when they’re sitting outside,” says MacMorris.

6.Warm and Cool Lighting

Candlelight is at the other end of the spectrum from moonlight — compared to the cooler 5500 kelvins, yellow has 2000 kelvins. That means in combination with overhead moon lighting, warm tabletop candles really pop.

7.Hardscape Lighting

The hardscaping in this outdoor kitchen is lit with outdoor LED tape, which is a flexible strand of LEDs encased in silicone and designed to keep moisture out. Although the back is adhesive, the tape requires support from clips to stay in place. You need some electrical experience if you want to install this yourself.

8.Creating Shadows

Shadow can be just as interesting as light. The spotlights on the front of this house were placed very close to the foundation so that the light would catch the edges of the beautiful stonework and create an intricate shadow pattern. To avoid a dead dark spot at the peak of the roof, the designer placed one spotlight on a stem in the flower bed (at left) that sends light all the way to the top.

9.Dramatic Doors

To generate a sense of drama for the front door of this house, which is set in a very narrow porch, Mitchell of NiteLiters chose to backlight the pillars instead of spotlight them. “It creates depth and leads your eye past the pillars to what’s behind them,” he says. An amber lens makes the dark wood of the door look even richer.

10.Lighting Wide Areas

This scene is lit with the entire view in mind, not just the water feature. Uplit trees across the viewing area provide balance; the designer used more lumen intensity and a wider lamp spread on the tree in the middle, which is the focal point. A bonus tip for lighting evergreens: Using a blue lens intensifies their green color.