Landscape Lighting

Private garden in the evening, illuminated by lamps

Looking for a way to take your backyard from basic to breathtaking? Adding some landscape lighting can be the perfect way to illuminate the beauty of your property, but it can also be a somewhat intimidating project. That said, worry no more! We are here to give a primer in Landscape Lighting. We’ll cover the basics of the many types of lighting you can use in your project based on the ways each can accentuate your landscaping. We’ll look at:

 

  • Landscaping lighting types
  • What to light in your yard
  • How to use landscape lighting

 

One thing to keep mind as you plan your landscape lighting project is that less is more. While you may want to light up the backyard like a stadium, you’ll find that subtlety is not only more flattering and attractive but it’s the more eco-friendly and cost-efficient choice.

What makes really beautiful landscape lighting standout is the play of light and dark. Lighting gives you the opportunity to highlight features that you may not otherwise notice during the day.

Creating contrast and shadows in the yard creates an ambiance of relaxation, and in some cases, romance. It’ll also inspire you to spend more evenings in your backyard enjoying nature and the company of your favorite people.

 

Types of Landscape Lighting

Here are a few of the basic fixtures you will want to get to know when designing your lighting plan.

 

Path Lights

Small lanterns lining a walkway in the evening in the summer forestEasily the most common type of landscape lighting, path lights are small posts with a built-in light capped with a diffuser. They are great for illuminating walkways or framing a feature.

 

Postmount/Piermount Lights

Commonly used for entries, gates, fences, and around the deck, these lights are installed on top of a structure to for architectural light.

 

Deck and Step Lights

Installed directly into decking and hardscaping, these lights are used most prominently to light entertainment spaces and paths for safety.

 

Spotlight

The backbone of landscape lighting, they highlight outdoor features like trees, sculptural, and architectural details.

 

Flood Lights

These lights are the hard-working cousins of the path light, they give off a lot of light and work wonderfully as guide posts or to separate a driveway from a yard.

 

Well Lights

Similar to the spotlight, well lights are in-ground recessed lighting usually used to up light trees, walls, or lawn art.  

 

Pond Light

A pond light is in the simplest sense, a spotlight for water features. It can safely be submerged in water.

 

Hardscape Lights

New to the landscape lighting pantheon, these tiny LED lights are installed into and onto structures to gently wash the walls with light.

 

What to Light in Your Landscape

Photo of modern house with outdoor lighting, at night, external view

How do you decide what to illuminate and what to let linger in the shadows? Here a few things to consider:

  1. Is your entry inviting and well-lit? A properly lit entrance not only adds security, but also creates a sense of warmth. Two outdoor wall sconces are a classic option that provides function and curb-appeal.
  2. What are your favorite yard features? Is it a water feature or a particularly large and unique tree? Highlighting those will display them to their best degree.
  3. Look at the areas that don’t really stand out during the day. You’d be surprised how illuminating a simple stone wall adds a lot of drama when washed with light at night.
  4. Consider function! Decks and paths need to be safely lit to enjoy them in the evening.

 

How to Light a Landscape

Now to the big part—how to light your landscaping! Grab your high-powered, dimming optic flashlight and head out in the evening to play with lights and options. Take pictures and notes on what works and what doesn’t.

 

Here are a few landscape lighting effects you may want to try:

 

Up Lighting

One of the most basic landscaping lighting effects, up lighting creates drama with tall trees and structures.

Partners well with: Spotlights, Well Lights

 

Silhouetting

By putting a light behind them, interesting shapes become a main fixture during the evening that may not even be noticed during the day. Be sure you can’t see the light to get the best effect.

Partners well with: Spotlights, Well Lights

 

Shadowing

To create a soft, moody effect, put the light between the vantage point and the item, pointing the light at the item creating a shadow. Best used when there is a flat surface like a wall to catch the shadow.

Partners well with: Spotlights, Well Lights, Flood lights

 

Moon Lighting

If you have larger trees, place lighting high in the tree with the light aiming down to wash out the light creating a soft, romantic effect.

Partners well with: Spotlights

 

Grazing

For a landscape-heavy yard, place lights close to the flat surface and aim up and down at irregular angles to create drama and shadow play. This is commonly seen at luxury hotels and restaurants to give a heightened look to landscaping.

Partners well with: Well Lights, Hardscape Lights

 

Washing

Some spaces just need more light. Flood the entertainment area with light and then use a wide-beamed light in the mid-point between the main vantage point and the surface to cast a soft light over the whole area.

Partners well with: Flood Lights

 

Path Lighting

While it seems simple, too much can be too much. Use only as many lights as you need to keep the path well-lit but airy.

Partners well with: Path Lights

Now that you are equipped with a Landscape Lighting 101, go forth and illuminate! While you can do the designing yourself, it’s important to talk to a professional like our Memphis Landscape team when laying out your plan so you are sure to work with the correct voltage for your power grid and other intricate details you may miss.

While there are a countless ways to illuminate your yard, the enjoyment comes from creating a custom space unique to you, your family, and your home. If you’re looking to add some depth to your space with landscape lighting, get in touch with us to help get your yard set up the right way.

 

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