Landscape Lighting: 5 Bright and Creative Ideas

pool lighting

Whether you are trying to create a dramatic ambience in your outdoor spaces at night or highlight some of your best features outside, landscape lighting and accent lighting can give beauty and purpose to the darkness. You can create better curb appeal and a focal point for your family, friends and neighbors.

Arin Chunn, a systems specialist at Outback Landscape in Idaho Falls, Idaho, says most of their clients desiring landscape lighting know that they want to accent their landscape but are not aware of all of the numerous types of lighting available and what is used where.

“That is where our designers come in and shine. Knowing what light fixtures work in what areas, the wattage draw from fixtures, and the number of fixtures wanted all work together to decide where to install the transformers and what type of transformer they will need,” he says.

Adding light to your outdoor spaces can also increase your security and safety.  The cost of adding lights depends on many factors such as the type of lights, electrician’s hours to install it, the bulbs and lamps chosen. But to install 20 lighting fixtures in your new 800 square foot backyard setting averages $3,500 to $4,500, says FixR. This includes all professional fees along with materials.

If you just want to put up path lights or driveway marker lights, it’s a simple DIY project. For a cost of about $45 a light you can add some comfort and safety. You can also string lights such as beautiful garden lights on a tree trunk or patio inexpensively but with a dramatic effect.

Here are some design ideas to think about installing to make your curb appeal and entertaining areas outside magical, fun and safer:

1. Downlighting a Pergola or Patio

One project Outback Landscape completed was building a pergola over a fireplace. To accent it, they installed recessed downlighting on the pergola to expand the seating area. Pendant lighting is a great addition to any pergola or outdoor covered porch.

“More and more we want to expand our living area, and lighting is essential to that,” Chunn says. “A pergola often serves as a centerpiece to outdoor living spaces, where all the furniture goes and the lighting is essential including anything from downlights to a ceiling fan with lighting as well.”

Fixr also says pendants costing between $80 and $250 and chandeliers from $80 to $350 per light can be hung from a patio ceiling to add style to your outdoor décor along with making dining and chatting much more festive or romantic.

Moon lighting is also popular. It’s not a side hustle, but rather a type of downlighting that makes the light resemble the dappled beams of the moon. Bright lights are placed up high and broken by foliage before they hit your hardscape and house.

2. Front Yard Lighting

Wall grazing accentuates patterns in the front of a house. Credit: Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, CC 2.0

Landscape lighting for the front of your house usually takes on a different form from broader lighting for entertaining. You’re accenting more than illuminating, Chunn says, with techniques such as uplighting large trees and splashing light on the house itself. Many homes these days have lights in the eaves of the house which provides light but doesn’t accent the structure at all. Wall wash lighting can be used to illuminate flat walls. Wall grazing — in which lights close to the house cast light upward – accent textures, such as brick on the house or paver walls in the landscape. Using sconces at the front door or pathway lighting can be inviting, too. Homeowners can also add motion sensors for added protection when someone comes near the entryway, garage or backyard.

3. Water Feature Lights

“One of the most beautiful parts of a landscape is often the water feature,” Chunn explains. During the day, a waterfall, lazy creek or bubbling rock adds life to a landscape as well as a calming sound. Landscape lighting can be put inside a bubbling rock with LED lighting. Or it can accent a waterfall with LED underwater wash lights or accent a lazy creek with underwater running lights. All of these lighting system options can not only last underwater but also change colors with the touch of a button.

4. Large Light-Up Planters

During the day, your pots show off colorful flowers and plants. At night, the pots themselves can become a landscape lighting design showpiece that shines brightly or softly throughout your landscaping for a unique look, says BNC, a website standing for Home Beautiful and Creative.

5. Solar Lights

These are available for most path lighting options as well as lighting for railings. Solar lanterns, big and small, can also add a pop of elegance to your backyard oasis or front porch. They need a few hours of sun each day or every other day to capture enough power to keep running when the sun goes down.

However, Chunn says that wired lighting is all low voltage lighting, which uses very little power and gives many benefits. Having wired lighting wired means you can change the color and adjust when you turn lights on and off. These moves help with security: Varying the timing and duration of your outdoor lighting significantly decreases break-ins.

Technology helps simplify, too. A homeowner’s smartphone can control many of today’s landscape lighting projects.

“They could also set times that they would automatically turn on and off based on their preference,” Chunn says.

With the vast amount of different outdoor lighting available, the things you can do with them are endless. A makeover can be simplified with a landscape design or lighting plan.

“All of the lighting described runs off a low voltage transformer that plugs into a standard 120v home outlet,” Chunn adds. “Most outdoor lighting either gets placed into the ground or screwed to an existing surface.”

Lee Nelson

Lee Nelson

Lee Nelson, an experienced freelance writer and former award-winning newspaper reporter, writes for National Association of Realtors and many state Realtor magazines. She lives in Illinois with her high school sweetheart and loves cooking, swimming, traveling and spending time with her grandchildren.