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Backyard Lighting

Creative uses of backyard lighting can provide homeowners with safety, security and aesthetics. Many low-voltage and solar lights offer environmentally and economically sound ways to illuminate walkways, decks and patios, landscapes and gardens.

Adequate lighting is essential for nighttime safety. Illuminating walkways and paths, around a pool and near entryways can prevent falls, tripping and other accidents for both homeowners and guests.

Burglars and trespassers are less likely to venture into well-lit areas. If your home is located in a wooded area or has a long drive or walkway, increased visibility will not only help you to feel safer, it is proven to deter intruders.

Backyard lighting can be used to create focal points, such as highlighting a bush, garden, birdbath or statue. It can also set the ambiance for a romantic evening, or a night of entertaining friends.

For many, lighting options need to serve multiple purposes and creative solutions can address safety, security and aesthetics.

Types of Landscape Lighting

Functionality, ease of installation and use and beauty are important factors in backyard lighting.

Types of backyard lights include:

  • Solar
  • String
  • Rope
  • Step
  • Path or Walkway
  • Paver
  • Wall
  • Post
  • Patio
  • Umbrella
  • Floodlights/Spotlights
  • In-ground

In addition to the type of light, the style in which you use them is also important.

  • Up lights provide drama, creating highlights and shadows
  • Backlights provide subtle shading and the perfect amount of illumination for water features and gardens
  • Recessed lighting fixtures are installed in the ground or placed in the eaves of a house or gazebo, being somewhat inconspicuous during the daytime
  • Louvered lights are easily repositioned and yield striking effects.

Common areas to place lights include walkways, decks, patios and landscapes and gardens.

Additional Options

Backyard lighting can be achieved with low-voltage and/or solar lights. Using a combination of both will eliminate the solar-light concerns of charging in low-sunlight areas as well as concerns of power-outages with low-voltage lights.

Ideal for the environment, keeping costs low and available in a wide-variety of styles, both options are reliable, sound choices.

Paths and Walkways

Lighting backyard paths and walkways provide both safety and security. Not only will you have an added sense of protection, you and guests of your home will be less likely to have an accident.

Available as short poles or larger lamp-like structures, post lights are common for paths. To avoid looking like a runway, place these lights 8-10 feet apart and alternate between each side of the path. This method still provides adequate safety lighting, with a more sophisticated design.

Most commonly placed in brick or stone, paver and step lights are installed at ground level to light paths, driveways and stairways. Designed to avoid over-lighting, this recessed option is also less noticeable during the daytime.

Backyard lighting specifically designed for security tends to be brighter than traditional walkway lights. Consider installing a timer or motion sensor, as this allows the security of a brightly lit path, without the constant all-night glaring of bright lights.

Spot, flood and bullet lights are ideal for shorter walkways. These can be recessed or strategically placed to light specific areas such as a garage or doorway.

Often installed with bright halogen bulbs, the brightness from a spot, flood and bullet lights can be hard on the eyes. Add a pale blue or green lens over the bulb to remove the harsh yellow glare or use motion sensors to make these a more desirable option.

Patios and Decks

Lighting a patio and deck can create a romantic mood for you and a loved one, provide the perfect ambiance for an outdoors dinner party or set the mood for a party. Backyard lighting can also provide safety from tripping over furniture or children's toys; in addition, certain lights deter insects.

Decorating for a party can be as simple as setting up string, rope or umbrella lights, tiki torches or hanging lanterns. Combine one or more of these lighting options for a truly original look, being wary that too many light elements can be distracting and unattractive.

Themed-based, white or multi-colored, globe or lantern shaped, string lights come in a variety of decorative options and can be connected directly to a power source. Rope lights are incased in a translucent tube, yielding a glowing effect appropriate for a small gathering.

A wall light can be installed on a shed or poolside changing room for decoration as well as safety. Mounted directly onto a wall or similar flat surface, these are available in a variety of finishes and styles and can be set to timers or sensors.

Coach, flood, down and up lights are popular choices used to illuminate decks as well as surrounding elements such as foliage or a garden. Current trends for backyard lighting of decks lean toward fixtures with bronze finishing, round or square coach lights and aged or patina effects.

Use under water lights in your pool for safe, nighttime swimming. Submergible lighting can also be installed in ponds or fountains for a unique and interesting effect.

Landscapes and Gardens

Proper placement of landscape and garden lights can make your backyard look beautiful day and night. When accenting features with backyard lighting, consider the effect of light and shadows.

Lights camouflaged as flowers, butterflies or dragonflies and rocks offer a fun garden fixtures that will blend in during the day and provide just the right amount of light during the evening.

Accent lights are perfect for showing off a statue, gazebo, fountain or pond as well as interesting plants or trees. Used to create highlights as well as interesting silhouettes, experiment with backlighting and up lighting techniques to find the perfect balance of definition and shadow.

Areas that receive the greatest amount of light will receive the most attention; however, subtle lighting techniques provide the greatest highlights without disturbing your neighbors.

Combining different types of lights can create a unique atmosphere, further distinguishing your backyard from other homes in your neighborhood.

Backyard lighting can serve functional, safety, security and aesthetic purposes. Whether lighting a walkway, patio/deck or landscape solar and low-voltage are reliable, readily available, easy to use and install, affordable options.

More Backyard Lighting Information

Design Low Voltage Lighting

When considering the design for low voltage lighting in your backyard, it's good to know the basic lighting techniques.

Visit for more information about landscape lighting.

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