There’s nothing quite like the shine, glow, and twinkle of landscape lights to set the stage for an enjoyable evening outdoors. Whether you’re relaxing beneath the stars, hosting a gathering, taking a late-night lap, or simply enjoying the view, great lighting can enhance your experience.
There are tons of fun lighting ideas, from string and fairy lights to spotlights, pendants, sconces, stake lights and more. And there are plenty of ways to use them! But are you being *smart* about how you incorporate lighting into your landscape?
Creating a functional and beautiful space is all about using lighting wisely, and these are a few ideas for doing just that.
1. Make A Statement
Lighting is about more than simply installing some bulbs, strings, or strips and calling it done. There is an artistry to making lighting a part of the décor – not just a functional afterthought, but part of the design, an accessory as key to your experience as the flowers you choose for the garden and the style of the patio furniture.
There are lots of ways to make a statement with lighting. Think big and bold, like oversized globes or pendants beneath an overhang or above a covered space. Turn up the glam with an outdoor chandelier in a rustic space.
Cluster fixtures together – several lanterns placed on a table or in one corner of the patio can look far more visually compelling than the same number spaced out along the edges.
Choose a great fixture that is the focus of attention. A fantastic wall sconce, unique garden globe, or striking lantern are excellent choices.
And of course, add lighting to a water feature like a tall, bubbling stone column or goldfish-filled patio water garden.
All of these options will not only illuminate your space, but they will incorporate lighting in a way that makes it an inherent part of your outdoor design.
2. Light Areas Of Activity
Whether your yard is large or small, it’s a smart idea to delineate different areas with different types of lighting. That doesn’t mean creating a hodgepodge, but it does mean thinking about how you’ll be using your space and planning accordingly.
That may be in the form of a set of string lights wound romantically through a gazebo, or using lanterns surrounding a patio to designate a dining or sitting area.
You should have different lighting around your pool area than you do in your cooking area, for example. Both can be functional, but your pool area needs border lighting, perhaps underwater lighting, and maybe even the subtle glow of garden fixtures scattered around to create ambiance and set the tone for an evening swim.
Your cooking area, on the other hand, needs task lighting to help you prepare your culinary masterpieces, and even some mood lighting to make sure you enjoy being there.
Once you define the various activity areas – whether for dining, having conversations, stargazing, floating, or something else – you’ll be able to choose smart lighting for each one.
3. Create Layers Of Lighting
If you think of outdoor lighting as something you either hang above you or put on the ground beneath you, then you’re missing out on a whole lot of space in the middle!
A smarter way to incorporate lighting is to use it at various levels to achieve different effects. Ground lighting can illuminate pathways, walkways and patios, and can also draw attention to gardens to be enjoyed in the evening glow.
If you’re lighting a staircase, consider placing lights at each step along the way, not merely at the top or bottom. Add lanterns or other fixtures atop retaining walls for additional ambiance and a cozy, cheerful illumination.
Spotlights, sconces, and wall fixtures can be used on the exterior walls of your house or above doorways, and recessed lighting can be placed beneath rooflines. For that matter, think higher! Lighting can be placed in the tallest trees to serve as moonlight even on the cloudiest night. This “invisible” lighting will add an ambient glow that will look as natural as the trees themselves.
Remember, you live in a three-dimensional space. Use lighting wisely to take advantage of that and surround to you in a warm, comfortable glow.
4. Accent Focal Points
There’s no rule that says lighting has to be merely functional. Get creative and use it to highlight special features of your landscape so they can be enjoyed in a whole new way at night.
If you have a fantastic piece of garden art, light it up! If your flower gardens look spectacular during the day, imagine how interesting they’ll look under the glow of a few strategically placed stake lanterns.
Shine a spotlight on a unique tree or shrub to highlight its shapes and shadows. Not only will you be adding functional light to your space, but you’ll be doing it in a way that creates visual interest.
Anything can be a focal point – a porch swing decorated with string lights, a container garden lit from within, a waterfall or bubbling urn fitted with underwater lighting. Choosing a feature you want to highlight, then lighting it beautifully, is a smart way to incorporate lighting that makes your space more functional *and* more impressive at night.
5. Build It In
If you’re planning a landscape redesign or you’re willing to go a little further in your effort to create a magical evening space, then build lighting right into your design instead of adding it as an afterthought.
Instead of placing lighting along walkway edges, you can build it right into the paving stones and beneath each step leading to your front door. Instead of hanging lights above a seating area, build them into the underside of benches or embed them into the stone of a surrounding wall.
You can create beautiful ambient effects by making light seem to emanate from your outdoor features themselves. Combine built-in lighting with unique lanterns, bold globes, and charming string lights, and you’ve got yourself a space you will love spending time in.
Lighting can be fun, playful, modern, bold, subtle, romantic, warm, dramatic, or any number of things you can imagine. It can set the tone, create an atmosphere, make your space more usable, and invite you and your family and guests to step outside and stay awhile.
All you need is creative thinking, a good plan, and smart installation. If you’d like to know more about how you can brighten up your outdoor space, book a consultation with us. We’ll work with you to plan and design lighting for your yard that is both smart and beautiful.