Best Landscape Lighting Ideas For Safety & Esthetics

Updated landscaping can factor heavily into the value of your home and improve your property’s curb appeal. Even if you aren’t thinking about selling your home, making small updates to things like edging, retaining walls and outdoor lighting can really make a big difference. Especially if you have distinct features that you’d like accentuated.

At the same time, adding landscape and exterior lighting can also serve a functional purpose. Lighted walkways, steps, and planting beds help keep your home safe. It’s also nice to come home to lights, without having to worry about fumbling around in the darkness for your keys.

These days improvements in LED technology, as well as photovoltaic advancements in solar cells, have made outdoor lighting far more durable and maintenance-free than it was just a few years ago.

The Most Popular Places To Install Outdoor Lighting

Once you embrace the need for outdoor lights, the temptation is to put them everywhere. Especially if you’re investing in solar rechargeable landscaping lights. Though for most people when they sit down and think about it, outdoor landscaping lighting needs tasteful placement. While it might be funny to joke about how NASA can see your house from space, chances are your neighbors won’t appreciate a dazzling display out their window every single night.

The following are some popular places to install outdoor landscape lights.

Walkways & Garden Paths

The walkway from the curb to your front door is its own sort of welcome mat. Visitors, delivery personnel, and even salesmen will use this walkway when they come to your home. Putting some basic lights along key paths in the front and back yard will not only make it safer for them, but it will also help keep visitors off your vulnerable grass. Not to mention its ability to improve your home’s curb appeal.

Water Features

These days more and more homeowners are installing water features in their backyard. Especially on patios, decks, and other outdoor entertaining areas. Tastefully placing directional lighting lets you enjoy your water feature even after the sun goes down.

Pools & Ponds

Also considered water features in their own right. Swimming pools, reflecting pools, and koi ponds also benefit from outdoor lighting. Both for safety reasons as well as esthetic ones. Many outdoor waterproof LED lights can have variable colors, which lets you set them up to match your color scheme.

Pergolas & Gazebos

Let’s face it, even the most humble pergola over a patio is still a significant investment. Lighting outdoor entertaining spaces like a pergola, gazebo or screen porch allows you to enjoy more total hours outdoors.

Retaining Walls

On the face of it, retaining walls serve a very basic, functional purpose. This leads some people to ignore or under-appreciate their esthetic value. Tastefully placing some landscape lights along or on top of retaining walls, can help them pop. It might also help enhance any surrounding softscape plants nearby.


Placing lighting on steps, whether it’s the steps to your home or steps in your landscaping is an important safety factor. It also helps guests find their way in the dark of night.

Surrounding The Firepit

For safety purposes a lot of firepits are placed far from the home. This can leave you with only the light of the fire to see by. If you’ve ever had someone lose their keys of their phone by the firepit when the flames have burned low, you know how frustrating it can be. Putting landscaping lights at the perimeter of the fire pit area that can be turned on and off lets you have lighting on demand when you need it, yet darkness when you just want to enjoy the crackling flame.

Different Types Of Landscape Lighting

Your exterior design concepts will factor heavily into the type of outdoor lighting that is best for your landscape features. The following are some of the more common lighting options.

Spotlights & Floodlights

These two terms are often thrown around interchangeably. In truth, there isn’t a ton of difference between them. Spotlights tend to have a narrow beam of light that is used directionally to highlight something. It’s a great way to highlight outdoor art and water features that you want your guests to see or appreciate.

A floodlight usually casts a beam wider than 45-degrees. Some even produce a beam of light as wide as 120-degrees. They are more common for lighting large outdoor areas like a deck, pergola, or patio.

Inground Lighting

A series of inground lights or light wells can be used to highlight sidewalks and garden paths. It’s a great safety and accent lighting feature in one. They can also be adapted to line driveways and stairs for times when you might come home after sunset.

You can also layout five or more inground lights in a circle or semi-circle to help accent a piece of outdoor art, sculpture, or water fountain. Including a spotlight or two in the equation can also give you better control over the shadows.

Recent advances in photovoltaic manufacturing and battery technology have now made it possible to power inground lights from a solar cell. Though you still likely won’t get a full charge that lasts through the night. Most will be able to store enough Watt-Hours from a sunny day to light a path or driveway for four to six hours. Then a special light sensor turns them off and on.

Exterior Post Lights

Post lights and bollard lights are a great way to accent pathways as an alternative to in-ground lights. Post light advocates note that they cast light down onto paths, sidewalks, and walkways to let you see where you’re walking. They’re especially handy if your landscaping employs a natural concept, as you will more easily be able to see possible tripping hazards like roots or a recently fallen tree branch.

Glow In The Dark Pebbles

One recent advancement that’s gaining popularity is glow in the dark pebbles or stones. They’re treated with a special phosphorescent material that glows on its own for several hours after the sun goes down. They can even be partially charged by other lights.

While they aren’t bright enough for you to say find the keys you dropped, they are a great way to tastefully accent walkways and retaining walls. They are available in a wide range of colors, which lets you match the pebbles to your existing exterior color concepts.


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