30 Outdoor Lighting Ideas to Brighten Up Your Yard

Outdoor patio and dining table covered with outdoor lights on pergola

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Lighting is as important to a successful landscape design as plants; hardscape; and outdoor structures, like pergolas and arbors. Besides providing safety and security, the right fixtures placed throughout a yard can transform the night into a beautifully illuminated masterpiece. Here are some outdoor lighting ideas to help inspire you.

What to Consider Before Installing Outdoor Lights

First, assess features in your yard to emphasize with lights. For example, the pool, spa, and steps are key areas to illuminate for safety purposes. Also, consider highlighting plants, architectural features, and outdoor rooms. In some areas you might want to add uplighting while in other areas you might be aiming to silhouette shapes. Purpose will dictate what type of fixture you need.

Prior to choosing lights, contact your area's building department for any local codes that dictate lighting types or levels. Once you know the kinds of lights you can install, play around with light strands or clip-on lamps in different areas of your yard, positioning them at various levels to see how lighting looks in the space. Remember to practice basic lighting safety, such as only using outdoor bulbs and being mindful of electrical safety when water is present.

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    Illuminated Pool House

    landscape lighting design
    Morgan Howarth Photography

    The pool area of this home can be enjoyed in the evening thanks to the expertise of Surrounds Landscape Architecture. The sconces inside the pool house bounce light off the high ceiling and flood outside. Plus, lighting wraps around the exterior of the pool house to further illuminate the whole area.

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    Levels of Lights

    deck lights
    Bell Landscapes

    A deep and narrow lot proved a fun challenge for Bell Landscapes. Smart lighting was essential for the multilevel home, which features outdoor staircases and decking of different heights. Fixtures were placed strategically for safety and attractiveness, allowing the residents to move throughout the levels indoors and outdoors with ease.

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    Historic Lighting

    old house with landscape lighting
    Stephen P. Arceneaux

    This two-story charmer in the historic district of Thibodeaux, Louisiana, is owned by architect Stephen P. Arceneaux. Arceneaux added gas lanterns on the front columns to maintain the historic facade. There's also LED landscape lighting throughout the property that focuses on the home's architectural and landscape elements.

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    Soft Lighting

    pool water features
    Robinette Architects

    Lighting can evoke different moods. For instance, this landscape designed by Robinette Architects uses soft lighting around the pool to create a tranquil nighttime scene. There's still plenty of light for safety to allow you to see the perimeter of the pool. But it's not going to be blinding when you're going for a moonlit swim.

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    Illuminated Steps

    outdoor lighting designs
    W. J'Nell Bryson

    The bluestone steps of this carriage house are illuminated to create a spectacular entry and also provide safety. The design is by W. J'Nell Bryston Landscape Architect in collaboration with Jim Phelps Collection. The way the lights frame the rectangular steps plays nicely off the rectangular step tiles.

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    Golden Lantern

    outdoor lantern
    Rela Gleason

    A prominent lantern with an Edison bulb casts beautiful shapes on the off-white facade of a home project from Rela Gleason Design. It gives the home a golden glow at night that's both warm and inviting. But it still provides enough illumination to offer safety and accessibility around the entrance.

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    Cacti Lights

    landscape lighting
    Link Architecture

    Spotlights offer focal glow on a neat row of cacti that lead up to the front door of this clean-lined home designed by Link Architecture. Not only does it provide some safety lighting for the walkway, but it also allows you to see the beauty of the plants even at night.

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    Edison Chandelier

    deck lights
    Jon Reece Photography

    Whitten Architects artfully draped Vintage Light Strings from Restoration Hardware over stainless steel cables that stretch above this deck. The lights use Edison bulbs with clear glass that create a soft glow. Overall, it forms an outdoor chandelier with a fabulous vintage look.

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    Plant Wall Lighting

    outdoor patio lighting
    Mike Pyle

    Landscape designer Mike Pyle used lights to turn the focus on the columnar, sculptural cacti in this outdoor space. This accent lighting makes the cacti especially striking in the evening hours. And it provides enough light for people to sit outside and enjoy the night.

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    Subtle Courtyard Lights

    courtyard lighting

    Pro Colour Photography / The Garden Builders

    This tiny courtyard features earthy limestone slabs as flooring and a soft wall of greenery. So it only makes sense for the lighting to be soft and subtle as well. The Garden Builders added evenly spaced wall lights that point down, so they don't create a harsh glare in your eyes at night.

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    Outdoor Room Lighting

    outdoor room lighting

    Farhad Ashofteh Architect

    An outdoor room needs plenty of lighting to make it usable at night. A rectangular garden bed is outlined with inset lights that frame the space, blending the landscape element with the home's modern lines. Designed by Farhad Ashofteh Architect, other outdoor lighting fixtures emphasize structural details, such as the pergola frame and the dining and bar areas.

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    Pergola Lighting

    pergola design
    Exactly Designs

    Elin Walters of Exactly Designs created a cozy outdoor living space by adding lighting both to the roof and the pergola, The pergola is made from pipes, each of which is illuminated with a small globe at the end. It floods the space with light, yet it's still easy on the eyes.

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    Illuminated Pool Features

    beautiful pool water features
    Christian R. Terry

    This pool from Terry Design illuminates the water features in all the best ways. The slide, water wall, and spa all are well-lit. Plus, there are lights around the perimeter of the pool both for ambiance and safety. 

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    Illuminated Steps and Path

    landscape lighting design
    Oregon Outdoor Lighting

    This outdoor lighting idea from Oregon Outdoor Lighting uses energy-efficient LED bulbs to illuminate the steps and path in a side yard. It makes the area easy and safe to navigate. Yet it doesn't take away from the natural beauty of the greenery.

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    Front Door Lighting

    front door lights

    Siri Stafford / Getty Images

    The front door should be well-lit both for safety and to give your home a welcoming look. To give yourself some extra light as you look for keys or greet guests, add both overhead lights and wall sconces. The sconces provide the visual appeal while the overhead lights spotlight the area right in front of the door that you want to be the brightest.

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    Line of Stakes

    garden stake lights

    bruev / Getty Images

    Garden stake lighting is often inexpensive and easy to add. But it can make a major impact to outline paths and other areas where you need a little extra light. They come in wired, battery, and even solar versions, making these lights very low-maintenance and user-friendly.

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    Under-Eve Lighting

    eve lights

    Ivan Hunter / Getty Images

    Don't stop at just your first story when considering outdoor lighting ideas. Adding lights under eves will help to outline the architectural details of your home and give it an overall brighter, more welcoming look. Plus, it's just a little extra light for added safety around your home.

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    Front Door Ceiling Fixture

    overhead front door light

    David Papazian / Getty Images

    Many homes have sconces by the front door. But a cool ceiling fixture is an option, as well. Pick one that goes with the architectural style of your home for a cohesive look. And consider one with multiple bulbs to ensure you have enough light as you're accessing the front door.

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    Outdoor Chandelier

    outdoor chandelier

    chuckcollier / Getty Images

    A chandelier can add some elegance to any outdoor space. It's especially ideal over an outdoor dining table or other seating area where you'd like a good amount of soft lighting. Choose a chandelier that has a dimmer switch to adjust the ambiance as needed.

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    Colorful Lighting

    colorful strand lights

    Maskot / Getty Images

    Colorful string lights aren't just for holidays. Use them in your garden year-round for a fun and inviting vibe. They won't provide a ton of light. But they'll likely be enough to add a soft glow to an outdoor seating area.

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    Outdoor Fireplace

    outdoor fireplace

    oneillbro / Getty Images

    Build your outdoor space around a large fireplace that can be used for ambiance, heat, and light. It's the perfect way to create a cozy glow in an outdoor seating area. And if you have a big enough hearth, you can place candles or lanterns on it for some extra lighting.

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    Garden Ground Lighting

    outdoor globe ground lights

    Bespalyi / Getty Images

    Use lighting like plants in your garden with some sculptural ground lights. These globes help to illuminate the space and add plenty of visual appeal at night. They can be scattered to create a random pattern or lined up for a more uniform look.

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    Paper Lanterns

    outdoor lanterns

    Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

    If string lights seem a little boring to you, consider paper lanterns instead. This lighting obviously won't stand up to the elements, so it must be used in a sheltered spot or only temporarily. However, it is a beautiful way to add ambiance to an outdoor nighttime gathering.

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    Light Post

    outdoor pole light

    Jon Lovette / Getty Images

    If you have a long pathway or driveway up to your house, consider a light post somewhere along it. Because they're raised, light posts can flood a fairly large area with light. So they're a good alternative to lining up several stake lights along a path.

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    Overhead String Lights

    outdoor string lights

    Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

    Create a ceiling of sorts for your outdoor space with overhead string lights. This is a great way to define an area in your yard. For instance, only string them over your table to set that apart as your outdoor dining room. You can add as many or few as you want, depending on how much light you need.

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    Tree Lighting

    outdoor tree lights

    Flashpop / Getty Images

    If you don't have an ideal spot to hang lights on your house, look to the trees and other greenery. String lights in trees can turn a pitch-black garden into a magical oasis. Plus, you can find ones that are battery-powered, so you don't need to worry about extension cords.

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    Outdoor Recessed Lights

    outdoor recessed lights

    mseidelch / Getty Images

    If you don't want to interfere with the clean lines of your home, consider recessed lights. You can have a fully illuminated outdoor area with barely any light fixture in sight. Besides recessed ceiling lights, there are also options for walls and steps.

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    Architectural Wall Lighting

    outdoor wall illuminated

    ShutterWorx / Getty Images

    You can use lighting to create cool architectural details on your home. For example, these square lights give the walls and stairway a whole different look when they're illuminated at night. Plus, they're a functional way to light the walkway.

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    Garden Stake Lanterns

    garden lanterns

    Jason Klima / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Basic garden stake lights can be functional but a little bland. However, there are other more visually appealing options like these garden stake lanterns. They would look especially beautiful outside a traditional or historic home.

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    Pool Fireplace

    pool fireplace

    Portra / Getty Images

    Mix water and fire with a built-in pool fireplace. Not only does this look amazing, but it also provides light to make nighttime gatherings around the pool a little safer. Still, it shouldn't be the only light you use for pool safety.