Backyard Landscape Lighting Tips
Expert Advice

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Looking to upgrade your backyard BBQ party deck, or swimming pool area, with some landscape lighting? If so, the right outdoor lighting will allow you to enjoy your outdoor space long after the sun sets. Here’s some tips on how best to do so.

Illuminating Your Backyard with Landscape Lighting

Before investing in landscape lighting, ask yourself what do you want to light in your backyard? Just the BBQ grill area, or perhaps, you want to spotlight a beautiful tree or create a party atmosphere for you and your friends to enjoy. Maybe you have a sitting area that is darker than you want or a path you need to illuminate for security reasons. When you have decided to light your backyard there are a few steps you should take so it’s done properly.

Create a Sketch of Your Backyard

The first step you want to take in designing your backyard lighting setup is creating a sketch to determine where you want your lights to go. When drawing your sketch add in any existing lights, outbuildings, trees, bushes, flowers, and decorations in the yard. Each of these items will reflect or absorb light. Finally, add in estimated heights of each object, especially trees. This will help you decide on the style of light you need for that area.

Choose the Right Landscape Lighting Placement

Match the style of light fixture to each location in your yard. You may want to illuminate your grill area with a pole lamp whereas you might want to use a spotlight to light up a tall tree. A soft lighting effect can be achieved by placing lights under shrubs or installing inground lights. A path will require stake lights that can be solar-powered. When lighting up a space for entertainment you can place these lights on posts, in the ground, or on walls to add adequate lighting to see the area and people.

If you are looking for more of a party atmosphere you can choose from different smart lighting systems. Smart lights allow you to tailor the color and temperature of the light to your individual needs. You can set these lights to change color, flash, change with the beat of the music, or set them to softer tones for a quiet night in.

Create a Budget

Since there are so many styles of lighting systems on the market the prices vary greatly. High-voltage landscape lighting can cost $100 or more per light. High-voltage lighting needs to be installed by a professional, so you must factor in that extra cost. Low-voltage landscape lighting typically starts around $30 per light and can extend to $300 per light. Low-voltage systems can be installed yourself which helps cut down on installation costs.

The least expensive lighting is solar lights. Since solar lighting systems rely upon the sun and a built-in photovoltaic device to function, they do not have installation costs or require a lot of money to operate. The initial price paid for solar lights is the only cost incurred with these systems. The only downside to solar lighting systems is if you are lighting a shaded part of your yard.  So, you will want to make sure that you are maximizing sunlight exposure for your solar panels, otherwise, you will need to install a solar panel in a high-sunlight location and run wiring to your lights.

Setting up the Lights

When highlighting a single object in your backyard like a statue or fountain you will want to use multiple landscape lights with low-intensity bulbs. Place these lights at different distances and at various angles to illuminate the object. Using a single spotlight can cause harsh shadows.

Consider using smart lights for your lighting setup. These lights have multiple settings and can easily be changed on a smartphone or tablet. Having the ability to change the color and temperature of your lights allows you to change the mood and atmosphere of your yard. You can easily transition from a soft tone for a romantic evening to a lively multicolored setup for throwing a party.

When designing your backyard lighting setup remember to understand what areas and objects you want to be illuminated and how. By creating a plan and understanding the way different lights work will allow you to create a backyard that stands out from your neighbors.