Landscape Lighting Types and Techniques

Pictures of a well-lit pathway conjure up images of fairytale-like settings and magical places, don’t they? The truth is that great lighting can turn any ordinary front or backyard into a magical place that you love to spend time in—and show off to your friends and family.

But landscape lighting has practical benefits too. It lights up the way so you and your guests can see and explore at night. It’s also great for highlighting something you’re already proud of—the raised planters you worked on all summer, your favorite tree, or a brand-new patio. With so many different types of outdoor lighting options, it can be hard choosing which lighting to install first!

In this article, we’ll look at some great lighting techniques for maximizing your outdoor space, but first let’s review some of the reasons you might want to install lighting in the first place.

Benefits of Landscape Lighting

There are so many benefits to installing pathway lighting in your backyard, such as:

  • Improved safety. Pathway and hardscape lighting increase visibility along pathways and steps.
  • Turn your yard into a retreat. Landscape lighting instantly makes your yard look more composed and relaxed, much like a hotel or retreat.
  • Maximizing the features you’re proud of. If you have a favorite feature in your backyard such as a seating area, a pool, a collection of plants, or a curving path, adding landscape lighting can add a major wow factor and put your treasures on display.
  • Creating a new aesthetic. You’ll find a wide variety of lights in all shapes and styles. Outdoor lighting comes with straight rods or curved ones, and multiple color options including brass and copper. Mixing and matching finishes can create a whole new look for your backyard.
  • Improve your home value. According to the National Association of Home Builders, up to 41% of potential home buyers rate outdoor lighting as an essential quality for their next home purchase. Should you decide to sell your house in the next few years, pathway lighting could be a great selling point

How to Use Different Types of Outdoor Lights

There are many different types of outdoor lights. Here’s just a few of our favorites:

  • Path Lights
  • Up Lights
  • Down Lights
  • Deck & Patio Lights
  • Hardscape Lights
  • Wall Lights

With so many options, you might need some help figuring out what type of light is right for what you are trying to accomplish. Here are some examples of lightning techniques used by the pros and the lights that go with them:

Path & Spread Lights

These lights are designed to illuminate pathways and stairs so that you can walk safely and comfortably at night. They usually aren’t a huge source of light—just enough to brighten up what otherwise would be a dim path with unknown obstacles. But they also add a warm and inviting atmosphere to your backyard.

Application: Light the Way

FXLuminaire Inspiration

FXLuminaire Inspiration

FXLuminaire M-PL Path Light

FXLuminaire M-PL Path Light

Up Lights

Up lights, often used as accent lights, are perfect If you have a feature of your home or yard that you want to highlight such as the walls of your house, rocks, or trees. Just as the name implies, they shine light up to one of your yard’s focal points. Shining light from below adds a dramatic and enchanting effect to whatever it’s being shined on.

Application: Accenting and Creating Focus

FXLuminaire C-WW

FXLuminaire C-WW

Kichler 2-in-1 LED Water Accent Light

Kichler 2-in-1 LED Water Accent Light

Down Lights

Down lights are lights that are placed above the area you want to highlight. As the name implies, they shine down from above. These lights can be used to brighten an entire area of your yard rather than a specific feature. These lights will improve visibility of your overall yard, but can also be used in more specific ways, such as moonlighting. Moonlighting is the term for placing a light in a tree some that some of the branches and leaves appear as shadows. This emulates natural moonlight and adds dimension to your yard.

Application: Emulate Natural Lighting

Moonlighting Landscape Illustration

Moonlighting Landscape Illustration

Deck & Patio Lights

Deck & patio lights are like down lights except they are made for these active social areas. In these spaces, the lights themselves stand out more, and you should consider the size, style, and finish as an extension of the color palette of your deck or patio. These lights provide ample lighting in sitting and social areas and should be used liberally in order to light up the faces of your friends and family.

Application: Social & Functional Lighting

Kichler LED Half Moon Deck Light Fixture

Kichler LED Half Moon Deck Light Fixture

Hardscape Lights

A Hardscape refers to the “hard” features of your backyard such as walls, pavers, stairways, rocks, water features, fire features and more. Hardscape lighting is made to fit into these spaces and add lighting directly on the object. It can be used to light pathways or specific features such as an outdoor kitchen island.

Application: Feature Lighting

FXLuminaire LF Color

FXLuminaire LF Color

Wall Lights

Wall Lights are a more specific type of light that are engineered to light up walls and the areas surrounding them. Installed in the wall, these lights add a designer feel to walkways and spaces because of the special fit in the wall.

FXLuminaire MO Color

FXLuminaire MO Color

Water Lights

Water Lights are a type of specialty light that’s fully sealed so it can be placed in wet areas or even underwater. These lights show off water features and perform much like up lights in that they accent points of focus.

Application: Underwater and Water Features

Kichler 2-in-1 LED Water Accent Light

Kichler 2-in-1 LED Water Accent Light

Kichler 2-in-1 LED Water Accent Light

Kichler 2-in-1 LED Water Accent Light

Lighting is as Unique as Your Backyard

Pathway lighting is as much of a style choice as it is about function. Whether you want modern light fixtures that enhance the look of your sleek backyard or rustic lights that highlight a woodsy and eclectic style, you will find the perfect light for you.

What’s Next?

If you’re looking for your next home improvement project, installing landscape lighting is an excellent choice. By adding new lighting to your paths and backyard features, you will add that magical atmosphere that makes a backyard truly unique. And on the practical side, few other home improvement projects can deliver as much value and atmosphere with as little investment.

If you want to explore a brand-new look and feel for your backyard, visit an NPT Showroom, or if you are ready to get started, find a builder near you.

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