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Backyard Lighting Options

Once the sun goes down, backyard entertaining becomes a complete impossibility without some great outdoor lighting. From functional to fantastic there are a dizzying amount of options to choose from. Don’t get left in the dark (literally). Combine a few of these fabulous lighting options to create the perfect nighttime scape.

The Basics

Set the stage with these four lighting options:

  • Path Lighting: Path lights are essential for illuminating walkways. They’re also great along the edge of a pool or around the bottom of a deck. Skip placing them in a straight line — your yard will look like a runway.
  • Uplighting: Uplights are installed in the ground and used to create a fantastic glow around statues, bushes or trees. These lights work best if they are placed at the base of the object so that the beam of light shines upward, highlighting the object’s shape.
  • Downlighting: Safety is the name of this light’s game. Also known as floodlights, down lights are meant for illuminating paths, steps and landscaping so you and your guests don’t end up taking a nasty spill.
  • Backlighting: Like uplights, backlights are all about creating drama. They’re usually installed behind landscaping to draw attention, as well as to cast an artistic shadow.
Leesburg Residence traditional pool
Traditional pool design by dc metro landscape architect Land & Water Design

Bulb Options

There are several bulb options to choose from. Use a combination of bulbs throughout the yard to get the most complete look.

  • Incandescent: Known for their steady warm glow, this kind of bulb can be put on a dimmer if need be. The downside? These babies get hot to the touch.
  • Fluorescent: These super bright lights are great for illuminating large areas. Unfortunately, most fluorescent bulbs can’t be put on dimmers.
  • LED: This bulb is long lasting and much more energy efficient than an incandescent bulb. However, also they’re more expensive.
  • Solar Power: These energy-savers use the sun’s rays to gather power and then begin to give off a soft glow at sunset. The only downside to this option is that the length of time the light stays on at night depends on how much sun there was during the day.
Private Residence - Modern Rooftop Garden modern patio
Modern patio design with LED lighting by dallas landscape architect Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

Decorative Lighting

Backyard lighting shouldn’t sacrifice fun for function. There are plenty of decorative options to enhance your base lighting. Keep in mind though, that no matter how creative you decide to get, it should still fit in with your home’s aesthetic.

  • Wall-mounted: These lights attach directly to the wall. They’re perfect for illuminating a back door or an outdoor kitchen area.
  • Lanterns: Lanterns can be bought individually or in a string. When laced through a pergola or strung through the trees, they add a bit of whimsy to a backyard.
  • String lights: This option isn’t just for the holidays. Like lanterns they add a touch of magic.
  • Torch: These gas-fueled lamps burn brightly. Choose a citronella torch and you’ll keep the backyard bright and the bugs away.
  • Chandelier: A chandelier brings an element of glamour to a covered eating area.
  • Candles: The key to outdoor candlelight is to create luminaries by placing the candles in glass lanterns or ceramic holders. Use them on a picnic table or to light a set of deck stairs.
Mill Valley Residence tropical landscape
Tropical landscape design by San Francisco landscape architect Pedersen Associates

While mixing and matching lighting options will give you multiple looks, it’s important not to go overboard. You don’t want to be the brightest house on the block. If you’re unsure of what works best for your yard, consult a landscape architect.

By Megan Mostyn-Brown

Are you ready to get started? Take a look at eieihome’s directory of landscape lighting contractors.

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