20 Outdoor Landscape Lighting Ideas for Your Yard

Pool with soothing landscape lighting

Your landscape is a stage. And like a stage, your landscape will need dramatic lighting design to make it a real showstopper. 

But why invest in landscape lighting? 

All the work you put into your hardscapes, gardens, and flower beds needn’t vanish with the sun. Good lighting design sets the tone of your landscape, can make a small space feel sizable, and draws attention to your landscape’s most attractive features at night. 

Landscape lighting isn’t just about creating a brighter yard. Uplighting, downlighting, solar lighting — there’s plenty to consider, just like in the theater. 

So to help with your design plan, we present these 20 landscape lighting ideas that will turn your evening landscape into a standout. 

1. Path Lighting

Pathway lit by in-ground lights at night
Photo Credit: Nan Palmero / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Add small lights along your walking paths for a comforting feeling of safety and security. Why? You’re able to see where you’re going, you’re less likely to roll an ankle, and you have a better chance at spotting wandering animals. 

Also, friends visiting your home in the evening will stay off the grass if they have a clear, lighted pathway to the front door. 

2. String Lights

String lights light up a poolscape
Photo Credit: Light Guys/ Jordan Silva/ Flickr / CC BY 2.0

String lights add a charming, cozy tone to the landscape. They’re excellent for family barbecues, decorating around the pool, or even hanging around a tent for a little backyard adventure. 

They’re a cheap landscaping project too –– perfect for homeowners on a budget. Head to a dollar store, an outlet store like Big Lots or Ollie’s, or even the seasonal aisle of your grocery store for cheap sales on outdoor string lights. 

3. Light Up Your Fire Pit

Two chairs by an outdoor fire pit against a blue sky
Photo Credit: travel4foodfun / Pixabay

A fire pit creates enough light on its own, so why add more? 

Lights around the fire pit can emphasize the fire pit’s stylish architecture and even create a safer outdoor space by the fire. When it’s hard to see on those moonless nights, you don’t want anyone to misstep and harm themselves by falling too close to the flames. 

In other words: A couple of well lights or in-ground lights will help ensure everyone around the fire can see where they’re walking. 

4. Front Door Lighting

Black front door lit up at night
Photo Credit: Circe Denyer / Needpix

Lighting up the front door gives a welcoming first impression. Don’t let your guests stand in the dark while they wait for you to come to the door — a shining light can show off your new container garden and hanging porch plants. 

Do you come home late at night? A lit front door will add an extra sense of security as you search your bag for the house keys. 

5. Garden Lights

Cast light on your gardens so you can still enjoy their beauty after a long workday (or grow a moon garden that even glimmers after the sun goes down). 

Set up a few patio chairs in the garden, and spend a quiet evening under the stars admiring your pretty blooms. 

6. Light Your Large Trees

Tree lit up by landscape lighting
Photo Credit: Nan Palmero / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Use a moonlighting effect to turn your magnificent tree into a grand spectacle. 

What’s moonlighting?

Landscape moonlighting involves carefully placing soft lights high up in trees or atop tall structures to mimic the moon’s silvery glow. You’ll love the dramatic effect it adds to the landscape, especially when the glimmer highlights your tree’s twisting branches. 

7. Outdoor Living Space

The backyard isn’t much of an outdoor living space if you can’t enjoy it after hours. Give your outdoor kitchen, dining, or social area an extra shine with ceiling lights, well lights, or a hanging chandelier. 

Working with a small space? If designed right, the lighting can make a small area look more spacious and welcoming. 

8. Pergola Lights

Small, twinkling string lights beneath wooden structure
Photo Credit: guylucis / Pixabay

Don’t forget about lighting up the pergola. Hang a few sparkling string lights or floating lanterns for a cozy, intimate atmosphere. Grab your fuzzy blankets and curl up on the pergola’s couch for an evening of great conversation with family and close friends. 

9. Solar Lights

A group of small solar lights embedded in the ground
Photo Credit: Eli Duke / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Want an environmentally friendly lighting option? Include solar lights in your landscape design. 

This handy technology uses sunlight to recharge and doesn’t require batteries or electricity. Solar lamps make excellent markers along pathways or driveways. 

Even better: Most light up automatically as the sun begins to set. 

10. Motion Sensors

Motion detector with two lights
Photo Credit: sandid / Pixabay

Motion sensors are useful for their security and bright floodlights. These nifty lights alert homeowners with a splash of light when it detects a possible intruder’s motion. You can even install a security camera that begins recording after a signal is detected. 

If intruders aren’t a concern: These helpful lights automatically switch on after detecting your motion when you step outside — no more light switches. 

11. Uplighting

Uplighting is a popular lighting technique that accents a structure from the ground or floor. 

How do you uplight? 

Strategically place lights on the ground and point them up. Install them near retaining walls, your home’s exterior, or a tall water feature for a beautiful, soothing ambiance. 

12. Light Up Your Home

Accent lighting can draw attention to the best parts of your home’s architecture. You’re proud of your home, so don’t let its design disappear into the night as well. 

If your home is made of natural stone, good lighting will help the pizza delivery driver to find your house on the street. 

13. Lighted Water Features

A full moon gives your pond, water fountain, or waterfall that extra shine. 

Why not have it shine every night? Landscape lighting around your water feature will accentuate its intricate design and rippling water. 

14. Flower Bed Lights

Flaunt your blooming flower beds even without the sun. They only bloom once a year — you might as well have the show go on as much as you can. Don’t forget to lay down mulch for added texture and color. 

15. Pool Lighting

Subtle, elegant lighting around your pool will set the scene for a romantic evening. Hang a few string lights, highlight the poolscape gardens, and install lights operated by remote control. You’ll love the adjustable settings, especially when you want to change the mood.

And for good safety measure: Install lights around the pool’s edge, so no one falls in. If your pool has underwater stairs, lights can help you enter and exit with ease. 

16. Outdoor Stair Lights

Walking on stairs in the darkness can be tricky business — misstep, and you’ll have a swollen ankle. 

What to do: Install a few lights along your walking path’s stairs, or even install them directly in your deck’s steps. Have a few steps leading to the front door? Add lights there too. 

17. Hardscape Lighting

It’s not just your flowers, trees, and gardens that deserve a few night lights. Even your hardscapes can make an appearance. With carefully placed downlighting, you can see the ground you’re walking on and the craftsmanship of your retaining walls, natural stone walking path, or paver patio. 

What’s downlighting?

Downlighting is a lighting approach in which lights are installed in a ceiling or atop a tall fixture and pointed downward. Downlighting brightens the tall structure and floods the ground below with light. 

18. Spotlighting

The theater is famous for its classic spotlight. Ever notice how your eyes hardly leave the actor who’s speaking? That’s because the spotlight directs your attention straight to the subject and dims the distracting background. 

So why get a spotlight in your yard?

If you have an extraordinary water feature, statue, or container garden to show off, why wouldn’t you want eyes looking at it all evening long? Bring it to life with a spotlight, and it will make a beautiful focal point.

19. Decorative Lamps

Decorative black lamps with a landscape background
Photo Credit: Petr Kratochvil / Needpix

It’s not just their luminescent bulbs that make lights look great in the landscape. A light’s shape, size, and style can put on a show too. 

Maybe you want to mark the driveway entryway with traditional lamps for an extra dose of elegance. Or perhaps you prefer to illuminate the woody walking path with rustic lighting fixtures.

Other lamp styles include: Victorian, Mission, contemporary, coastal, and transitional. 

20. Hanging Lanterns

Three hanging lanterns near growing vines
Photo Credit: Free-Photos / Pixabay 

Swinging orbs of light can turn any forgotten backyard into a dreamy wonderland. Hang lanterns around your pergola, back porch, or even in the trees for a magical evening outdoors. 

FAQ About Landscape Lighting

1. How much does landscape lighting cost?

Landscape lighting prices will vary depending on the light type you buy, your project’s size, and whether you work with a professional. 

String lights or pathway lamps are perfect for homeowners on a budget. String lights can cost between $15 and $50. For lower prices, head to your local dollar store or outlet store.

Lamps are typically sold in bundles. A bundle of six or 10 lamps may cost between $20 and $100. 

The average cost for wall lanterns ranges between $100 and $150 each. 

For a full-scale project? The average cost of installing outdoor lighting is between $2,000 and $4,500. 

Working with a professional or want a solar-powered design? Expect to pay between $5,000 and $6,000. 

2. Is a landscape lighting system easy to install and can I do it myself?

When you’re working with electricity, outlets, and extension cords, we recommend hiring a pro. 

Working with a professional ensures the project is done well and is not a safety hazard. A lighting specialist is also trained to recognize the most flattering design for your landscape. 

In other words: 

If you’re going to invest in the lights, you might as well invest in good design. 

Some light fixtures are simple and make easy DIY light installations, such as hanging string lights or slipping small solar lights into the ground. But for those large-scale projects, we say go with a pro. 

3. How can I save energy with my lighting system?

Many homeowners may have concerns over whether landscape lighting has environmentally-friendly options or if their utility bills will rise.

Here’s the good news: 

You have more control over your lighting system’s energy than you might think. 

Speak with your lighting designer about the light bulbs you’ll be purchasing. LED bulbs are much more energy-efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs and incandescent bulbs. While compact fluorescent bulbs are praised for their energy-efficiency, modern LED lighting has changed the energy-saving game. 

Better yet: LED lights have a longer lifespan than compact fluorescent bulbs and incandescent bulbs, saving replacement costs in the long term. 

Solar lights are another tremendous environmentally-friendly option, and they won’t run up your utility bills. They use sunlight to recharge themselves and don’t require batteries or electricity to produce light.  

Another tip? Control how long your lights stay on. 

Your design can include light switches that allow you to turn your lights on and off. A remote control allows you to adjust your lights’ intensity and when you’d like to shut them off. 

Some lighting designs can even include a timer that modifies the lights at your preferred time. 
Remember to speak with your landscape lighting designer about all your options to help save energy and lower utility costs. 

4. Does landscape lighting require maintenance?

Yes, your landscape lighting system will require periodic maintenance. Typical maintenance includes ensuring the system is free of yard debris, wires are inspected and repaired, and lamps and bulbs are replaced as needed. 

When to Hire a Landscaping Pro

Call a landscape lighting professional near you for assistance with lighting design and installation. When working with electricity, it’s essential to have a licensed electrician do the job for you. Without proper training, installing lights yourself may lead to shock or significant damage. 

And remember: 

Broadway hires the lighting professionals. Your landscape deserves the same expert treatment.

Main image credit: Photo by Jana Perenchio / Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio & the Hill Country, LLC / CC BY-ND 2.0

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell is a freelance writer and actor in New York City. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and enjoys a warm cup of French press coffee.