Outdoor Landscape Lighting Dos and Don’ts

Updated: Dec. 04, 2023

Before installing landscape lighting, learn these tips, tricks, dos and don'ts! See where to place landscaping lighting for the best effect.

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Don’t Focus on Outdoor Landscape Lighting First

While your mind is on landscape lighting, you actually shouldn’t focus on lighting up your pathways and other landscape features, like your trees, first. In fact, you should begin with the primary focus of your outdoor lighting—the most prized part of your property. But what’s that? If you’re new to landscape lighting, check out these DIY outdoor lighting tips for beginners.

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Where to Place Landscaping Lighting: Do Focus on Lighting the House First

Surely, the most prized, and expensive, part of your property is your home. Without it, what would landscape lighting even mean?! That’s why you should first put your attention on lighting your house using the right type of outdoor light fixtures that illuminate your home and provide safety and security at night. You should position lighting fixtures so that they highlight walls of the house as well as architectural features. Check out these breathtaking outdoor lighting looks for your yard.

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Where to Place Landscaping Lighting: Don’t Overdo It

When it comes to landscape lighting, don’t group too many fixtures in one space. While your thought might be to create optimal lighting of a certain object or space, you’re merely drawing more attention to the lights themselves. Here are 14 outdoor lighting trends for 2018 and the best outdoor lanterns to illuminate your backyard.

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Where to Place Landscaping Lighting: Do Take Advantage of Multiple Layers

If you want to really create a bright spotlight, avoid grouping a lot of fixtures and instead position several spotlights with different angles toward the object, like a garden statue or topiary, that you want to illuminate. This will reveal silhouettes and layers that make for a dramatic effect. Don’t forget about your deck! Here’s how to install deck lighting.

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Where to Place Landscaping Lighting: Don’t Place Lights in a Straight Line

Doing this creates a really bland appearance, like an airport runway, rather than a warm and inviting pathway to walk along. Here’s what’s new in outdoor path lights.

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Where to Place Landscaping Lighting: Do Get Creative With Pathway Lighting

So if you can’t put your pathway lights in a straight line, what can you do? Get creative! While you don’t want to create too unique of a look that comes off as busy or distracting, you can do something like stagger the lights or use motion sensor lights so they shine down the pathway as someone walks through it. Check out these affordable garden path ideas.

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Don’t Choose the Wrong Bulbs

We can’t talk about landscape lighting without discussing energy efficiency. Incandescent bulbs are energy suckers, and won’t last as long as you’d like. Furthermore, bulbs with 40 to 75 watts are ideal for outdoor fixtures, and should work with the fixture you’re using. Using light bulbs with more wattage than needed can actually create an ugly glare that is less than inviting for your guests. Here’s helpful information on outdoor low-voltage lighting.

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Do Opt for LEDs

Gone are the days when LED lighting meant a harsh blue light. If you want a warmer tone, there are plenty of LED options to choose from now. And besides, you’ll use much less energy than with incandescent bulbs. And to avoid any of that unwanted glare, use soft, downward-focused lighting. You might find this guide on how to install outdoor lighting and outlets helpful!

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Where to Place Landscaping Lights: Don’t Ignore the Small or Out of Sight Spaces

Whether it’s the second floor of your home, or that dark space in the corner of your yard, your oversight of these second-thought locations could keep you from truly taking advantage of the safety, security and beauty of landscape lighting. Bonus: Check out this mid-century modern Possini Euro outdoor wall light, too—we’re obsessed!

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Do Use Accent Lights

Using even just a small accent light can work wonders for the dark corners around the yard. Not only will it create even more beauty, it can also help keep away potential intruders who seek out dark places to stay unnoticed. Check out these 15 outdoor string lights that may make you want to live outside.