From designs that add to the atmosphere to practical ideas, these outdoor lighting ideas will give you ideas for how to light your space in style.
These outdoor lighting ideas will help you add that all-important glow at dusk. It shouldn’t be forgotten because it can completely change the way your backyard looks and how it works.
There are so many lighting options to choose from that it can be difficult to know where to begin. You can quickly add interest to a patio space, highlight key features such as your favorite plants, draw attention to a garden pergola set up for alfresco dining, or even create warmth in a shadowy corner with the right designs. Experiment with different lights for different areas, and don’t be afraid to layer them; for example, spotlights on steps, uplighting on trees, or cozy lanterns around outdoor seating.
We’ve rounded up the best outdoor lighting ideas to help you narrow down your options and elevate your space after the sun goes down, from on-trend festoon lights and pretty fairy lights to more practical designs to light pathways and doors. It’s incredible what the best outdoor lighting can do to make a plot appear magical.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SELECT A GARDEN LIGHT?
When planning your outdoor lighting design, consider which areas of the garden you want to illuminate and why. Perhaps you’d like to add something twinkly to a particularly lovely tree to add atmosphere. Perhaps you’re looking for something more practical to line your walkways.
Although it is not always necessary, you may choose to stick with a theme that complements pre-existing features. For example, if your plot contains a lot of traditional metal fixtures and cottage garden ideas, you might want to choose antique-style lighting that blends in with the surroundings.
Lights4fun(opens in a new tab) recommends thinking about how you want to power your garden lights when selecting them. “Battery and solar lights are great alternatives if there isn’t access to power,” they say.
Battery lights are ideal for illuminating flower beds and greenery. The team continues: “Solar lights are even simpler; simply place them in a sunny location and they will illuminate automatically each evening. If you have access to outdoor power, big and bright festoons swagged around your outdoor space work perfectly.’
Consider your budget as well; our guide on how much garden lighting costs is packed with useful tips to help you plan your scheme.
Jamie Moxey, Design Consultant at Dusk Lighting(opens in a new tab), recommends coastal lighting if you live within five miles of the coast or an estuary. This is made to withstand salty air and will not corrode. “Aside from that,” he says, “choosing lighting is a personal preference and depends on what you want to achieve.”
What should the outdoor lighting be like?
According to Jamie Moxey of Dusk Lighting, the brightness of garden lights is determined by personal preference. However, the objective-whether you want it for decorative, functional, or security purposes-can influence it, he adds.
You would want brighter lights for security lighting than you would for decorative lighting in an alfresco dining area for summer evenings.’ The lumen value tells you how bright the light is. A higher lumen value means a brighter light, which is important for things like scaring away intruders and lighting up paths.
“The size of the outdoor space will also influence these decisions,” Jamie adds. Brighter lights would be more beneficial when illuminating a larger space.
Pathway lighting with 100-200 lumens is adequate. A range of 50-300 lumens will work well for more atmospheric lighting to create attractive interest while avoiding glare. Floodlights used for security should be much brighter, with a lumen output of around 700.
Should all exterior lights be the same?
“The key to a cohesive-style finish for exterior lighting is a design flow rather than a strict matching policy,” says Jamie Moxey.
Jamie explains that one common way to achieve this sense of flow is to choose a color finish or texture that will unite the exterior lighting on the property. This can also be used when selecting key pieces of garden furniture. ‘For example, you could decide that all of the exterior lights will be black with a copper element,’ Jamie continues.You could then use this color scheme to inspire your outdoor seating ideas and accessories.
“The color of the light emitted is the most important aspect of exterior lighting that should match,” Jamie adds. This is known as Kelvin, and it will be specified in the product details as you browse.
Warm white lights are preferred by the Lights4fun team. “Hang fairy lights high, line your dining table with candles, and put stake lights in your shrubs,” they advise. “The warm glow will undoubtedly create a cozy space to entertain friends and family during the summer months.”
1. ACTIVITY ZONES WITH LIGHTS
A long, narrow blank slate of a backyard in Celina, Texas, required depth and a one-of-a-kind design. Signature Lights(opens in new tab) collaborated with Aquaterra Outdoors(opens in new tab) to add elegance and fun to this yard, which now has several zones for relaxing and entertaining family and friends.
Signature used Techlight(opens in new tab) LEDs for tree lighting and SPJ Lighting(opens in new tab) LEDs on the back pathway to create a soft and luminous glow in the yard, giving the space the ambiance of a tranquil retreat. Signature installed customizable tape lighting (strip lighting) in a narrow space around the fire pit for a clean, modern look. Scott Beverly, the owner of Signature, says that this technique takes the attention away from the small space, giving the illusion of depth.
directional path lights were installed along the walkway and the edges of the sitting area. Path lights guide homeowners and guests to the other side of the pool, where an inset grill and bar area anchor the space. Downlights in the outdoor kitchen illuminate the space for the chef and anyone who swims up to the bar. Additional tape lighting was installed around the countertops and steps.
2. A HAMMOCK WITH TWINKLING FESTOONS
Consider festoon light ideas for creating a relaxed atmosphere in your garden’s chill-out zone. They are typically inexpensive and simple to install.
String them around a covered deck or patio and you’ll be tempted to stay late—especially if you’ve included plenty of comfy seating and chic accessories. And, if your overhead structure is strong enough, why not add a hammock as a fun addition?
3. SELECT MODERN WALL LIGHTS FOR YOUR FRONT DOOR.
When night falls, all front gardens require illumination, particularly around the front door. But why settle for one light when two are available? After all, symmetry is always fashionable.
These modern black wall lights stand out against the white-clad walls and perfectly complement the door’s design. Exposed bulbs add an element of industrial-chic to the scene, while pretty pink roses add a touch of softness. It’s a lovely way to greet your guests as well as yourself.
4. DIFFERENT LAYER LIGHT HEIGHTS
Due to her father’s job, Pragya Mishra spent time as a child in Nepal’s jungles. Workers delivered lanterns at night. “Seeing the lights disperse brought me such incredible joy, and joy still washes over me when I think about it,” says Pragya, owner of Artscapes Living (opens in new tab). I want to recreate that joy for my clients, so lighting is an important part of my design process.
For this large backyard project in McLean, Virginia, Pragya layered outdoor lighting at various heights. “It’s important to think about what draws your attention,” she says. ‘Lighting can be used to define outdoor rooms and pathways in your space.’
The extensive project included a pool, a second-floor deck, a covered patio, an outdoor dining and entertainment area, and a few seating areas to enjoy the scenery. Pragya chose CAST(opens in new tab) lighting because she believes the fixtures are sleek, durable, and complement the design of the yard. She uses LED bulbs, which do not overheat and are essential for downlighting.
Safety was also a major concern, and the designers needed to illuminate the pool and multiple garden steps. Pragya believes that placement is critical in highlighting focal points and creating separation between different outdoor rooms. “There is nothing more off-putting than a bright bulb shining in your eyes as you walk through a yard,” she says, adding that she can’t stand a runway of lawn lights flanking a sidewalk.
5. PUT LIGHTING NEAR THE WATER FOR A MYSTERIOUS VIEW
Soft light reflected in water will always appear magical. So, if you have a garden pond, consider how you can combine it with your lighting to create an awe-inspiring scene.
On a nearby gently sloping bank, these dandelion clock designs create an other-worldly view from the far side of the water. If you’re looking for an alternative, consider installing pond lights beneath the water; they’ll provide a magical glow and, when strategically placed, will also help to highlight pretty aquatic plants.
6. HANG STATEMENT PENDANTS FROM A STRONG STRUCTURE
Is there a sturdy patio cover, such as a pergola or gazebo, in your outdoor space? They are ideal for hanging statement pendants from as well as protecting your seats.
Architectural patio lighting designs like these are an excellent way to enhance a modern plot. They are made of durable, painted aluminum and add an industrial feel to this dining space, especially when combined with the black table.
The arrangement also has a lot of climbing foliage, which adds texture and a soothing amount of green.
7. BUILD A SMALL URBAN DECK
Deck lighting is an important aspect of garden illumination, and this is a lovely example.
The owners of a 15-by-30-foot urban deck and garden in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, hired Craig Threndyle of Echo Beach Construction(opens in new tab) to illuminate the space and install lights that would complement but not overwhelm the yard’s features at night. “We wanted to keep it nice and mellow,” Craig says.
Craig installed sconces on the fence as well as uplights for the garden bed and to backlight the wooden bench with low-voltage outdoor lighting. He attributes the project’s design to the homeowners, who are architects and designers.
Craig found the fixtures to be simple to install and use. He built a floating step off the landing, with two under-mounted Hyve 22s per step. The wall sconces have halo downlights, and the garden has three mini-scope uplights.
Craig describes the homeowners as “a dream to work with.” Because they are downtown, they didn’t want it to stand out like a nightclub, but they did highlight some of the striking features.’
8. SHINE LIGHT ON IMPORTANT FOCAL POINTS
In a city of nine million people, how do you create a private garden? Plant a lot of tall trees to hide the skyscrapers around you. Key plantings in this area include field maples (Acer campestre) and yews (Taxus baccatta). The trees’ feathery leaves let light into every part of the garden while hiding the tall buildings behind them.
The extensive city garden was designed by Osada Design(opens in new tab) and illuminated by John Cullen Lighting(opens in new tab). It includes Kew 60 spotlights and directional Hampton 60 floodlights. These LED fixtures are spiked, making them easy to move around the garden as the seasons change.
The rill, like many water features, looks stunning when illuminated at night, as movement and refraction create patterns that reflect on the surrounding space. Overall, it’s a great example of how lighting can add drama and impact to landscaping.
9. KICK BACK IN EL PASO STYLE
A low-maintenance backyard with little plant life looks lovely in hot and dry El Paso, Texas, which borders Mexico. Owner George Ocampo of Go Designs(opens in new tab) created a linear design for a small backyard that makes creative use of space with hardscape features. Some of the features are concrete rocksalt deck pads, horizontal cedar fencing for privacy, and a raised platform patio with built-in limestone benches.
A sleek, modern fire pit made of raw steel veneer, limestone, and stainless steel fire fixtures serves as the focal point. Step and path lights that shine up from concrete platforms go well with the fire pit patio.
Another privacy fence and faux turf are just around the corner, where you can practice yoga, have a picnic, or watch movies or sports projected on a wall. George used up lights, flood lights, step lights, and accent minis from Volt(opens in a new tab) and YardBright(opens in a new tab). “It almost feels like you’re in a downtown urban park when the yard is lit up at night,” he says.
10. SELECT SOFT SOLAR LIGHTING IN STYLISH DESIGNS.
When it comes to backyard lighting ideas, LEDs are an obvious choice. There are no issues with plug sockets or the dangers of open flames. These futuristic designs are ideal for casting a dreamy glow across your garden at dusk, and they can be moved around to suit your needs.
Invest in multiples in varying sizes for a sculptural look. Then, for a soothing oasis of calm, combine it with minimal, low-level furniture and natural stone paving. Don’t forget to add a neutral outdoor rug underfoot for added comfort—our best outdoor rug buying guide has some great options.