Outdoor lighting is an important aspect of yard and garden design. The right fixtures or features can add ambiance, while also providing functional lighting for use and safety purposes. It can illuminate walkways, outdoor dining rooms, patios, and structures like pergolas and arbors. Get inspired with these top outdoor lighting ideas.
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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Rattan is a trending choice for outdoor decor and it also makes a great option for outdoor lighting. Globe-shaped lanterns in various sizes provide visual interest and ambient light. Be sure to check the durability of the materials you choose. True rattan may not weather well in wet conditions, while options made from resin will offer better durability.Continue to 2 of 30 below.
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Give a petite space bright lights with a string of small bulbs. You can opt for neat rows or crisscross the strings of light for a more eclectic vibe. The intensity of illumination is determined by the bulbs you choose and the number of lights you use. Go with fewer string lights for a softer glow or add more rows of bulbs for better visibility while spending an evening on the patio.Continue to 3 of 30 below.
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Privacy Fence with String Lighting
Give your privacy fence a glow up by hanging individual string lights. This look doesn't require symmetry or perfect placement, and it works well whether you hang the lights vertically or horizontally. For easy ambiance, use lights with a dusk-to-dawn timer.Continue to 4 of 30 below.
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Illuminate Doors and Windows
If you want to set your home aglow, use string lights or flexible LED light tubing to outline doors and windows. This idea is best suited for backyard hideouts and is an effective and easy way to jazz up your home's exterior while also softly outlining the door on a dark night as you make your way back inside from the firepit or hot tub.Continue to 5 of 30 below.
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If you're searching for a good spot to hang string lights, sometimes all you have to do is look up. String lights in trees can turn dark or shadowy areas of your yard and garden into an illuminated oasis, ready for dining, socializing, or peaceful reflection. Choose solar or battery-powered string lights if you don't have access to a nearby electrical outlet.Continue to 6 of 30 below.
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For potted trees or plants, use a stake light to provide spotlight illumination. Aside from providing a focal point (even at night), the light source highlights the foliage. You can either use several small solar lights to create a halo of light around the plant or a single light source to backlight a larger plant, as seen in this photo from Lady Landscape.Continue to 7 of 30 below.
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As an alternative to the soft ambiance of string lights, consider hanging paper lanterns instead. Use lights of varying diameters to add illumination and visual interest. Keep in mind, though, that the lanterns aren't weather-proof, so expect to hang them ahead of your special event and pack them for safe storage once the occasion is over.Continue to 8 of 30 below.
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Indoors or outdoors, using a variety of lighting layers can add dimension and versatility to your space. This pergola combines string lights for ambiance with an overhead fixture for a more direct beam of light. Use just one or both light sources, depending on the mood and festivities underway. For the best effect, remember to match the color temperature of all fixture light bulbs.Continue to 9 of 30 below.
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Wall sconces provide illumination and décor in one attractive package, and are an exceptionally great choice for outdoor lighting on feature walls. Many options provide soft background light but if you want more illumination, look for cylinder lights that cast upward and downward beams of light, as seen in this photo from Lucide Lighting.Continue to 10 of 30 below.
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Outdoor lighting doesn't always come from above. Ground lanterns, as seen here in a modern square shape, can be placed wherever you need them around patios, pools, and other outdoor seating areas. The soft glow harmonizes with the light fixtures used to provide illumination in the covered patio, giving the entire pool area a cohesive lighting plan with enough illumination for any activity.Continue to 11 of 30 below.
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Pergolas provide welcome shade during the day, but adding outdoor lighting kicks up the ambiance at night. String lights and hanging pendants both make popular picks for pergola lighting. Don't be afraid to mix-and-match lighting styles to achieve the right lighting effect for your space. If you choose hanging lights, as seen in this photo from Upstyle Your Home, it's usually best to center them over your seating arrangement for light distribution and design balance.Continue to 12 of 30 below.
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Don't overlook the importance of path lighting. A welcome greeting to visitors and a practical safety measure, use outdoor lights at regular intervals along walkways to help guide the way. Solar lights are often a go-to choice, since they require no battery replacement and will turn on at dusk.Continue to 13 of 30 below.
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Pathway lighting can come in a variety of forms, but the post-and-lantern option seen here harmonizes with the wooden handrail on the other side of the path. The glow of the lanterns leads the eye up the pathway, while lighting the steps. Opt for solar-powered lanterns if you're looking for an alternative to hardwired outdoor lighting options.Continue to 14 of 30 below.
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Two large globe lights break the mold of traditional house lighting fixtures. The orbs illuminate the space by night while providing visual contrast to the more rectangular features of this house by day. When choosing porch lighting, think about the functional features of the lights you choose without overlooking the opportunity to make a statement right at the front door of your home.Continue to 15 of 30 below.
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Wraparound Porch Lighting
More than a sign of a warm welcome, porch lighting can make outdoor spaces more enjoyable to use after the sun goes down. On this wraparound porch, recessed can lights lend a soft, inviting glow to the entire space. This craftsman-style home has abundant windows and cedar plank siding add charm, but leave little space for wall-mounted fixtures making the cans a practical and aesthetically-pleasing option.Continue to 16 of 30 below.
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Front Door Lighting
A well-lit front door is practical for safety reasons, but also gives your home a welcoming look. By using a pair of lighting fixtures on either side of the door, you double the illumination, which can be helpful as you search for your keys or greet guests at night. Give attention to the size and scale of the light fixtures you choose. Don't overwhelm or crowd the doorway, but don't underwhelm the area with too little light from undersized fixtures.Continue to 17 of 30 below.
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Recessed Path Lighting
The recessed lights of this wooden entryway preserve the modern aesthetic of this home while highlighting the edge of the path for safety. This option can be built into walkways of various materials, but recessed walkway lights are most popular and practical for wooden and stone entryways.Continue to 18 of 30 below.
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A pendant light outdoors can serve the same function as a well-placed indoor fixture, providing illumination and eye-catching décor. A great application for this outdoor lighting idea is to use it over a patio set. By day or by night, the hanging light serves as a focal point for a cozy conversation corner.Continue to 19 of 30 below.
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Even without a pergola or gazebo, you can set the stage for your outdoor seating area with a canopy of string lights. The easiest way to achieve the effect is to use a net of string lights, but you can also use individual strings of light to achieve the same look. It gives the effect of a covered seating area using illumination, but doesn't require the install of a permanent structure.Continue to 20 of 30 below.
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This outdoor lighting idea uses a variety of LED light sources to make this walkway glow. The steps are easy to navigate, thanks to wall-mounted light sources and stake lights further up the path. The upward facing spotlights, built into the pathway, illuminate the landing area while highlighting the texture and form of the feature wall.Continue to 21 of 30 below.
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Lighting for Outdoor Dining Room
Dining on the deck or patio is one of life's simple pleasures, but if you don't want to dine in the dark, you'll need to install a light source for use after the sun goes down. This contemporary home features a pair of hanging light fixtures that provide plenty of illumination over the table and seating arrangements. Lighting for outdoor dining serves a practical purpose but can also add ambiance to the area and enhance the feeling of a true outdoor living space. Be sure to choose fixtures that are damp or wet-rated for safety and longevity, since lights in outdoor areas will be exposed to moisture and precipitation.Continue to 22 of 30 below.
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If you don't have the know-how or budget for hardwired outdoor lighting, you can still light up your patio or deck with candle light. Romantic and chic, battery-operated candles give you that gorgeous glow, without worries over melting wax or fire hazards. Make this look more effective and attractive by using plenty of candles in various sizes, placing them at different heights in your outdoor space, including on the ground and on tables or other outdoor fixtures.Continue to 23 of 30 below.
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Under Eaves Lighting
Adding lights underneath roof eaves is another unique option for outdoor lighting. This villa has can lights that illuminate in both directions, though the top beam of light is amplified to draw the eye upward. When deciding where to place under-eave lighting, pay attention to architectural details and functional features. On this tropical villa, the lights are placed on either side of the door walls and along the side of the home for full illumination around the perimeter.Continue to 24 of 30 below.
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Illuminate Sun Shades
Sun shades are usually designed with the day in mind, but when illuminated from underneath, they give off an attractive glow. In this hot tub oasis, the sun shade is lit from below with string lights, adding to the privacy and ambiance to this outdoor space.Continue to 25 of 30 below.
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Illuminated Architecture Features
For homes with unique architectural features, like cut-outs and recessed areas, consider designing your outdoor lighting to highlight these architectural details. In this example, the stone wall seems lit from within, providing plenty of light underneath the portico and up the stairs.Continue to 26 of 30 below.
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You can illuminate the borders of your backyard with fence lighting. These LED lights spaced at measured intervals along the privacy fence cast a glow on the fence above and garden bed below. Use them to softly illuminate your landscaping and provide a visual identifier of the fence line.Continue to 27 of 30 below.
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Light up your yard or pool area with fence spotlights. Unlike stake lighting that lights up the area from below, mounting lights on your fence provides downward directional illumination. Evenly space the lights for centered beams of light along the perimeter of your area.Continue to 28 of 30 below.
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Summer Party Lights
Outdoor lighting is a key element of backyard bashes, but your party lights don't need to be limited to tabletop options or Tiki torches. Instead, use battery-powered LED string lights inside of mason jars for a firefly-like glow. Affix the battery pack to the lid of the jar and hang from trees or hooks around the party area.Continue to 29 of 30 below.
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Stair lighting is another safety-conscious but aesthetically-appealing way to use outdoor lighting. White Sands shows off the beauty of the brick steps leading to the elevated entryway of this multi-story home with built-in lighting. The lights give a visual indicator of where each step begins, but also cast a pool of light on the stair below. Match the light temperature to your materials; in this case, the warm light is a perfect complement to the sandy hue of the brickwork. Cool light temperatures would be a better pick for gray-tone building materials.
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Lanterns for Stepping Stones
Stepping stones lead the way across a yard or garden, but can quickly blend into the surroundings under dark or shadowy conditions. Cast illumination on your path with a series of ground lanterns. Using solar or battery-powered options eliminates the need for hardwiring or permanent installation. In this example, the lanterns are staggered on either side of the path and nearby illumination from tree spotlights gives the area added brightness.