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A Step-By-Step Guide to Landscape Lighting for Your Outdoor Space
Strategically Light Your Home With These Steps

Do you want to know how to showcase your house and yard in their best light after dark?

If like many homeowners, you’ve worked hard on the exterior of your home, including landscaping and continual upkeep to maximize your curb appeal, then you don’t want all that hard work to disappear after nightfall.  Especially when all it takes is the flick of a light switch and some strategically placed landscape lighting to put the best of your outdoor features on display.

Do it right, and your landscape lighting will not only make your home a safer, more enjoyable place to be once the sun goes down, it will also highlight the best of your home’s exterior architectural features and bring attention to any special trees, gardens, patio spaces, or landscaping.

Here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow to design the perfect landscape lighting for your home:

Decide on Your Purpose and Create a Sketch of Your Yard

Before you invest any hard-earned money into landscape lighting, first you need to determine what purpose you would like the lighting to serve. Maybe you want to create a soft glow around a patio for evening entertaining.  Maybe you have a path that needs to be light so people can walk safely.  Maybe you want to highlight some special features, like a garden or water fountain.

It will be useful to go out and walk around your yard to determine just what you want and need.  While you’re at it, begin to notice and make a sketch of what is already there.  In your sketch, you’ll want to include any existing lighting, plus the presence of building structures, trees, vegetation, and sculptural features.  All of these will absorb or reflect the lighting you install.  Estimate the height of these objects, including any prominent foliage (which may not yet have reached its full blooming stage).

Decide on the Types of Lighting that Will Achieve Your Purpose

Once you’ve determined the purposes for your landscape lighting, it’s time to consider what type of light fixture you need to get the lighting effect you’re seeking.

Here are some common types of landscape lighting, including examples available at Going Lighting:

Path or Garden Lighting 

These fixtures have small canopies on top of 18-24-inch posts, are planted into the ground, and reflect light on to paths or garden beds.  Unlike many other outdoor lights, their style and finish are prominently on display, so be sure to choose fixtures to match your home décor.

Accent Lighting

Accent lights are generally compact and engineered for versatility, so they can provide the spread of light that ’s needed. They project a beam that can precisely light special house features or garden structures.

Flood Lighting

These bright lights cast a wide beam that can be used to illuminate tall trees or the entire wall of a house.  Given their scope, they ought to be used sparingly, but are perfect when you need to light up a large space.

Well Lighting

The bulbs in these fixtures are encased inside a waterproof container that is buried in the ground, so the light shines upward while the fixture itself remains hidden. Well lights can be used to showcase the underside of plant and tree foliage or line the base of a wall façade.

Decide How Much Energy and Effort You Want to Expend

Once you’ve determined the kind of lighting you’d like for your outdoor space, you need to consider the electrical energy requirements and what you can install by yourself.

Some landscape lighting is 120-volt lighting, which must be buried 18 inches deep or specially encased for water protection.  This kind of lighting requires the work of a licensed electrician to install the electrical components.

A popular alternative is low voltage lighting, which uses a transformer connected to the household line that will convert the 120 volts to just 12 volts.  This kind of lighting can be a DIY project requiring just the transformer and an outdoor receptacle.


With your landscape lighting carefully planned and installed, you can now make use of your outdoor property both day and night. Your yard is transformed into usable space that can be enjoyed, even if you don’t come home from work until after dark.  As many homeowners will attest – it’s like gaining a whole new room you have yet to fully explore.  Go make the most of it!