How to Properly Light Your Landscape

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One of the joys of owning a home is being able to do anything with the landscaping you want. In order to make sure that you achieve the look you want, it pays to spend time designing the right type of lighting plan for the grounds. This is not as difficult as you may think. Here are some tips that will help you decide how to position lighting around the front and back yards, and choose the right type of landscape lighting for each area.

The Difference Between Direct and Indirect Lighting


In some areas of the grounds, you will want to use direct lighting. This is lighting designed to illuminate a specific space. The purpose may be to call attention to a particular landscape element such as an island of blooming plants. You would also want to include direct lighting if you have an outdoor cooking space on the patio or in a gazebo. With the latter, the goal is to make sure you have enough lighting to manage whatever tasks are normally performed in that space.

Indirect lighting is softer and tends to cover a wider area. You’ll want to go with this approach when there’s the need for diffused light. Since you are not attempting to illuminate some type of work space or call attention to a specific element in the landscape, placing the lights in the right spots helps to make it easier to move around the yard at night and have just enough light to see where you are going.


That indirect light also enhances the look of all the landscaping elements at night. As people walk or drive by your home, different elements will appeal to them without detracting from the rest of the landscape design.

Lighting Paths


Soft lighting along any paths on the property is a smart move. Consider adding a series of small lights close to the ground on at least one side of the front walkway. You can also extend the row down the driveway to the street. The lighting provides a pleasant scene when you come home at night. If you are expecting guests, the path lighting paired with the porch light will ensure they have no trouble getting to the front door.

Use the same approach to paths in the back yard. Soft illumination leading from the patio to a utility shed or a gazebo makes it easier to walk in the dark with confidence. It also adds a visually appealing touch that you will enjoy looking at as you gaze through a window or enjoy sitting on the patio.

Many solutions for lighting paths are considered low-voltage. In other words, they don’t require a lot of energy. You can invest in a system that comes with a timer. Set the timer so the lights come on around nightfall and then shut off an hour or so after everyone is usually home. When you have a party, it’s easy to adjust the timer so the lights stay on longer.

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Adding Security Lighting


Security lights are definitely an element you want to include in your outdoor lighting scheme. Position those at the corners of the home so it’s easy to see any activity occurring in the yard. Remember that the lighting does not have to be so glaring that it keeps you up at night. There are bulbs that cast a softer glow while still illuminating enough space to ensure intruders will be noticed.

Remember that motion-activated security lights are an excellent choice. They will activate if any type of activity takes place close to the home. That means if you enter the patio space after dark, the lights along the back of the house will automatically activate. The same holds true if you have a security light mounted between the garage and the front or back door. Along with being a great safety measure, motion-activated lights are also more energy efficient.

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Make sure your landscape lighting plan focuses on safety, security, and calling attention to some of the more attractive elements in your landscape. Feel free to adjust the layout or add new lights to achieve the look you want. The result will be a lighting scheme that is practical and increases the curb appeal of the property.

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Brian Rees

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Brian Rees

Brian is a media relations representative for Mr Electric. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, music, and spending time outside.