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And like a stage, your landscape will need dramatic lighting design to make it a real showstopper. All the work you put into your hardscapes, gardens, and flower beds needn’t vanish with the sun.

Add small lights along your walking paths for a comforting feeling of safety and security. Also, friends visiting your home in the evening will stay off the grass if they have a clear, lighted pathway to the front door. They’re excellent for family barbecues, decorating around the pool, or even hanging around a tent for a little backyard adventure. When it’s hard to see on those moonless nights, you don’t want anyone to misstep and harm themselves by falling too close to the flames.

Don’t let your guests stand in the dark while they wait for you to come to the door — a shining light can show off your new container garden and hanging porch plants. A lit front door will add an extra sense of security as you search your bag for the house keys. Set up a few patio chairs in the garden, and spend a quiet evening under the stars admiring your pretty blooms.

Use a moonlighting effect to turn your magnificent tree into a grand spectacle. Landscape moonlighting involves carefully placing soft lights high up in trees or atop tall structures to mimic the moon’s silvery glow. You’ll love the dramatic effect it adds to the landscape, especially when the glimmer highlights your tree’s twisting branches.

The backyard isn’t much of an outdoor living space if you can’t enjoy it after hours. If designed right, the lighting can make a small area look more spacious and welcoming. Hang a few sparkling string lights or floating lanterns for a cozy, intimate atmosphere. Grab your fuzzy blankets and curl up on the pergola’s couch for an evening of great conversation with family and close friends. This handy technology uses sunlight to recharge and doesn’t require batteries or electricity. Solar lamps make excellent markers along pathways or driveways.

You can even install a security camera that begins recording after a signal is detected. Uplighting is a popular lighting technique that accents a structure from the ground or floor.

Install them near retaining walls, your home’s exterior, or a tall water feature for a beautiful, soothing ambiance. Accent lighting can draw attention to the best parts of your home’s architecture.

If your home is made of natural stone, good lighting will help the pizza delivery driver to find your house on the street. A full moon gives your pond, water fountain, or waterfall that extra shine.

Don’t forget to lay down mulch for added texture and color. Subtle, elegant lighting around your pool will set the scene for a romantic evening.

And for good safety measure: Install lights around the pool’s edge, so no one falls in.

If your pool has underwater stairs, lights can help you enter and exit with ease.

Walking on stairs in the darkness can be tricky business — misstep, and you’ll have a swollen ankle. That’s because the spotlight directs your attention straight to the subject and dims the distracting background.

If you have an extraordinary water feature, statue, or container garden to show off, why wouldn’t you want eyes looking at it all evening long? Bring it to life with a spotlight, and it will make a beautiful focal point. Maybe you want to mark the driveway entryway with traditional lamps for an extra dose of elegance.

Or perhaps you prefer to illuminate the woody walking path with rustic lighting fixtures.

Other lamp styles include: Victorian, Mission, contemporary, coastal, and transitional. Swinging orbs of light can turn any forgotten backyard into a dreamy wonderland.

String lights or pathway lamps are perfect for homeowners on a budget. When you’re working with electricity, outlets, and extension cords, we recommend hiring a pro. Many homeowners may have concerns over whether landscape lighting has environmentally-friendly options or if their utility bills will rise.

While compact fluorescent bulbs are praised for their energy-efficiency, modern LED lighting has changed the energy-saving game.

Solar lights are another tremendous environmentally-friendly option, and they won’t run up your utility bills. They use sunlight to recharge themselves and don’t require batteries or electricity to produce light.

Remember to speak with your landscape lighting designer about all your options to help save energy and lower utility costs. Typical maintenance includes ensuring the system is free of yard debris, wires are inspected and repaired, and lamps and bulbs are replaced as needed. Without proper training, installing lights yourself may lead to shock or significant damage. Main image credit: Photo by Jana Perenchio / Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio & the Hill Country, LLC / CC BY-ND 2.0

Pool with soothing landscape lighting
Pool with soothing landscape lighting
Two chairs by an outdoor fire pit against a blue sky
Two chairs by an outdoor fire pit against a blue sky
Black front door lit up at night
Black front door lit up at night
Small, twinkling string lights beneath wooden structure
Small, twinkling string lights beneath wooden structure
Motion detector with two lights
Motion detector with two lights
Decorative black lamps with a landscape background
Decorative black lamps with a landscape background
Three hanging lanterns near growing vines
Three hanging lanterns near growing vines
Jane Purnell
Jane Purnell

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