Where to Place Landscape Lighting

by Scott Young

Tree landscaping design

When a home or business is decorated with beautiful trees, shrubbery and flowers, the signature that sets off the ideal landscape is well-placed lighting. Beautiful lighting that sparkles at night is also a captivating experience for homeowners or visitors. Landscape lighting brings out the green space’s ambiance and creates drama or a soft glow.

No matter the season, landscape lighting is the perfect nuance every yard needs to stand out. What should you keep in mind when deciding where to place landscape lighting?

Tips to Begin Lighting a Landscape

Before designing your lighting, decide what features you have to work with—some you may wish to highlight only slightly with lights. Other landscapes may require more coverage at night, and that can also provide a feeling of security.

Draw out a map of the green space using pen and paper or a design app. On the map, you can visualize where lighting may be necessary for distance viewing, enjoyment up close or safety.

Tips for Designing Landscape Lighting and Choosing Lighting Fixtures

Before you begin hanging lights, take a closer look at your map and consider the features you want to highlight. What are the most popular design elements that draw your eye? Also, what areas need more lighting for safety measures?

Consider all lighting fixture options based on this information. There are many types of landscape lighting fixtures that you can choose from: There are flood lights, in-ground lights, spotlights, path lights, recessed lights, entry sconces, pendant lights and moonlights (similar to the moon’s glow).

Aside from lighting fixtures, you’ll also need to consider the following aspects when designing landscape lighting:

  • Buildings: What type of buildings are on the property? Tall walls or single-story buildings may need more or fewer lights. Depending on the effect desired, lighting could be placed near the ground or high above. 
  • Trees and Shrubbery: Trees with thinner canopies allow more light to pass through, so trees with a broad canopy may require more lights. Shrubs may need just a simple section of lighting for enhancement.
  • Flower Beds: Low voltage landscape lighting works best for flower beds, highlighting the flowers without overpowering them.
  • Lawn Decor: What decorations are on the lawn? Are there any bird baths, statues or other centerpieces that should be highlighted?
  • Fences and Paths: Highlight a row of flowers along a wall with lighting near the ground. Clearly mark paths with lighting that keeps a balance of ambiance and safety in mind as you decide where to place landscape lights.
  • Patios and Decks: These are the “stages” of entertainment where people gather, so design these areas as well-lit to help curate an excellent evening.
  • Ponds and Swimming Pools:  Pond and swimming pool lighting not only highlights the beauty of the water, as well as essential features like waterfalls, but it also keeps admirers safe. 

Deciding on Landscape Lighting Placement

Lighting placement around pool

How do you decide where to place landscape lighting? Alternate the angles of light fixtures and the distance between them. A combination of different lighting types, limiting them to just a few, can help create an interesting visual effect for the eye. Below, we’ve devised a list of landscape lighting placement guide that goes over essential lighting techniques:

  • Silhouetting: Create a silhouette of a feature by aiming a spotlight behind it at an adjacent wall. 
  • Shadowing: Soften the shadow of a feature by aiming lighting toward an adjacent wall, such as highlighting a uniquely trimmed shrub or beautiful small tree. 
  • Wall Washing: Wall washing is a type of lighting technique that creates an even glow by reflecting light off the surface it’s aimed toward but at an angle. Place a low-watt, wide-angle flood light just a few feet away from the feature at a sideways angle for a more subtle glow.
  • Up Lighting: For a more dramatic effect and excellent contrast, aim spotlight fixtures closer to a wall or building for a bolder reflection. 
  • Moonlighting: Select a larger lighting fixture with a glare guard and place it inside of a tree’s canopy, angling the fixture downward. The angle will create indirect light similar to moonlight on an area of your choice.
  • Down Lighting: This lighting technique is similar to moonlighting but a little bolder. Angle the light or lights higher to illuminate a wider area of the landscape or lower to focus on a path.

  • Accenting: Lighting that calls attention to a feature in your garden is considered to be accent lighting. Up lighting or down lighting could be considered to be accenting, pointing out plants or statues.

  • Path Lighting: Lighting a path is more often reserved for more delicate lighting that provides ambiance but is clear enough to follow the path.

Designing Responsible Outdoor Landscape Lighting

While landscape lights are attractive, some commercial properties and residential areas, such as HOAs, have restrictions regarding lighting and other features. So, be mindful when deciding where to put landscape lights.

Landscape lighting may be distracting to neighbors, so be responsible with your design and use of lighting when considering front-of-house lighting positions. Landscape lighting can also be distracting to those indoors, so be thoughtful that the design doesn’t glare too harshly into windows.

These are just a few considerations you’ll need to get started as you consider where to place landscape lighting. Create a free account with Certified Lights to get the best out of landscape lighting and design today.

Leave a comment