10 Lighting Technique Ideas for Your Landscape

Wondering which lighting technique to use for your landscape design? It’s a tough, but fulfilling road for homeowners who desire to transform the look of their landscape with lighting. With hundreds of techniques from which to choose, designing can turn into an arduous task instead of a rewarding experience.

To make your process a little easier, we outlined some of the top lighting techniques below. They are commonly used in all types of landscape designs and styles. From zen gardens to elaborate Tuscan features, each technique has its place in form and function.

Uplighting – The technique of uplighting involves placing a fixture close to the trunk of a tree and directing the light upward. This effect emits a soft moon-like glow to the tree.

Downlighting – Downlighting is similar to uplighting but the fixture is placed elevated above the object. The smaller trees would benefit from this technique since it casts light through the tree below.

Silhouetting – This technique lights a vertical surface behind an object resulting in a dark outline of the object. This technique is effective for shining light on an object, like a tree or plant located close to a wall.

Grazing – Grazing involves placing a fixture against a textural wall about 6” away from it to intensify its texture. The beam is directed up or down and often used along brick or stone walls.

Shadowing – If you place a fixture in front of an object it will cast a shadow on the surface behind it. This technique is known as shadowing. Play around with the size of the shadow by adjusting the distance of the fixture in relation to the object. The further away the fixture, the smaller the shadow.

Lighting Water – Fountains should be featured in landscape designs with lighting adding a special effect when fixtures are placed under the water. Fountain lighting contributes to a warmer ambience and a reflective water surface. Add colored lenses for a creative and dramatic look.  The same effects can be applied to ponds or any other water feature.

Moonlighting – Moonlighting is evident when a fixture is hidden inside a tree and positioned downward to dance through the branches. The more elevated the fixture, the greater the tranquil effect on the object.

Walkway/Pathway Lighting – This technique is helpful when lighting paths and walkways for security purposes. The paths should be completely visible but not too bright to cause glare or pollution. Consider illuminating any dark areas so intruders are not tempted to approach your property. Low-level lighting will deter criminals and illuminate dark areas while preventing a severe glare.

Spread Lighting – Spread lighting is the perfect accompaniment to greenery or flowers that are low to the ground. The fixtures evenly disperse the light throughout the area of focus. Fully-shielded fixtures are best for the absence of glare, but a partial shield will be the best choice to illuminate larger areas with deeper foliage.

Deck Lighting – Design and safety go hand in hand with deck lighting. Add a beautiful design fixture while illuminating steps, deck edges and changes in elevation for safety.

Any one of these techniques will enhance and provide a safer environment for all who live in your home.

Why You May Need to Hire A Landscape Lighting Designer

While it is perfectly fine to turn your landscape lighting design into a DIY project, it’s also important to know when the project takes on a life of its own.

Your decision about whether to hire a professional will depend on your skill level and the scope of your project. If you are at all apprehensive about taking on the design, here are some reasons as to why hiring a professional will help in the long run:

Creative Input

Though you may have tons of ideas of how you want your landscape lighting to look, a professional will have years of experience to offer you which will make your design that much more beautiful. A professional can also provide the technical expertise and prevent you from making mistakes along the way.

Lighting designers understand correct placement, shading properties and the fixtures that lead to desired effects. They know how to enhance your home and play off its features instead of just shining light into an area. You may know what you want but how you get there may be outside of your skill level.


Some lighting fixtures are simple to install, like solar lights, but when cables, transformers and connectors are involved, the process can become quite complex. Professionals know where to dig so it does not destroy your current landscape and how to best wire the lights without disrupting the ambience of what you already possess.


Cost is a major concern when hiring a professional and sometimes it is out of the question. However, if you are tackling a big job that involves a lot of installation, it may be worth your while to at least consult with a professional. It will cost more money in the long run if you inadvertently cause damage instead of getting it done the right way the first time.


Your lighting designer should also offer some type of maintenance so you are covered should an unexpected event occur. Weather and accidents are par for the course and maintenance is a much-needed service.

Just because you hire a designer does not mean you are excluded from the design process. As a homeowner, you should actively participate in the process.

Take notice of the following important elements and discuss them with your lighting design professional:

  • Safety and security – Let your designer know how important safety is to you and your family. Take a walk around your property and notice the areas where safety is a concern, like on walkways and paths, in doorways and near stairs. Remember that the elderly may require brighter lighting so inform your designer of the ages of the people who will be using the property. Security lighting is also too bright and it leaves dark areas. Your designer can help you by replacing this lighting with lower-intensity, safer lights.
  • Energy – If you are concerned about energy usage, discuss these issues with your designer right away. In fact, if “green living” is important, choose a lighting designer who understands these principles.

A great lighting designer will encourage your participation and seek to honor your needs and desires. Take the extra time to find a skilled professional and do your homework before beginning the process.

Proper Installation for your Solar Lighting

Energy-efficient lighting fixtures are all the rage. Green living has extended its reach all across the globe and wise homeowners are catching on to the trend and doing their part to save the environment. If green living interests you, solar lighting may be a good choice for your landscape.

Solar lighting provides homeowners with sufficient lighting minus the excessive energy usage. The solar energy from the sun powers the lights during the day so they can illuminate at night. Additionally, solar lights are inexpensive and easy to install. Installation can be done by a novice.

Below are some tips to installing your solar lights:


Select the location where you want to install your solar lights. Pay close attention to the areas that receive the most sunlight during the day. The more sunlight reaching the fixtures, the longer the batteries will stay charged during the night. More sunlight will keep your solar lights functioning as efficient as possible.

Choose Your Lights

It’s time to make your selection. What is the purpose for your lighting? Are you interested in illuminating pathways? Creating an elegant ambience? Providing a safer walkway or path for guests? Take notice of the purpose behind your lighting so you can be clear when you go to purchase fixtures. Take the time to survey your landscape and deduce whether a solar light will work in a specific area. For example, you may want to light a pathway under a tall tree, but if the tree covers the light during the day, you will not gain any energy from the sun and the light will not function at night.

While you are at the store purchasing your lights, make sure you also buy any tools required for installation. Ask a knowledgeable sales person for assistance. Chances are you already have everything you will need, but it’s good to make sure.

Safety First

Position your lights at a height that works for the location in your landscape. The more intense lighting should be positioned at higher locations so the light disperses. For security reasons, you can use the lights to illuminate the outer perimeter of your landscape since you are guaranteed sufficient sunlight if no trees are blocking it. The solar panel should be facing upward and tilted slightly to receive maximum sunlight.


Before you complete the installation, take the lights out for a test drive. Position them in the location of your choosing and give them a few days to see how they perform. You may find you want to change them around depending on the intensity of the light they give off and the energy they receive from the sun. Check to ensure the batteries are running at optimum levels so energy is conserved.


Complete the installation and check for defects. Once installed, double-check that the fixture is fitted correctly and every screw is tight. Check the wire joints and take care installing the light exactly as instructed. Do not take any shortcuts since varying climate and weather conditions can affect the life of your lights. Ensure they are installed properly according to instructions.