35 Outdoor Lighting Ideas to Transform Your Yard, Deck or Patio

Outdoor lighting with hanging lights between trees

When the weather is warm, the party need not move indoors when Mother Nature's natural heat source, the sun, dies down. Heck, as great as fire pits and bonfires are, you may not even need those. Yet, you will want to let there be light—and you can, thanks to Thomas Edison and contemporary outdoor lighting pros who took his lightbulb idea and ran with it. 

These days, outdoor lighting ideas run the gamut, and you'll want to know all about 'em. For instance, the best pick for deck or patio lighting may differ from those for the front of a house or a wall. Tree lighting ideas? They’re not just for the winter holiday season. Some might crave modern charm, while others want something with timeless or throwback appeal. One thing's for sure: People revamping outdoor spaces appreciate the options.

"When it comes to outdoor upgrades, lighting leads in popularity among renovating homeowners, according to the 2024 U.S. Houzz & Home Study," says Anne Cobly, a Houzz home design expert. 

So, which outdoor lighting option should you choose? Landscaping and hardscaping professionals enlightened us with tips on picking the best outdoor lighting styles in 2024 for aesthetics and function.

Related: 28 Different Types of Gorgeous Orchids for Your Home or Garden

What Type of Outdoor Lighting Is Best?

It depends on your objective, shares Amber Freda, who founded her garden and landscape design business in 2004. For instance: "If you’re looking to add beautiful, ambient lighting to highlight focal points, I recommend low-voltage landscape lighting for this," she says. "This type of lighting will really help set the mood of the space. Lights can be pointed up or down, depending on what you’re looking to bring the most attention to, and they come in a variety of colors as well."

Yet, if you need task lighting over the grill, Freda says high-voltage fixtures offer function. "Security lighting such as floodlights are also best as high-voltage fixtures that can also be enhanced with features such as motion detectors," she explains.



What Is the Most Durable Outdoor Lighting?

"Durable brass or copper fixtures are the best type of fixtures for outdoor landscape lighting," says Andrew Sherman, the owner of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Long Island.

Sherman says solar lights and others made of plastic and aluminum—typically found at big-box retailers—often don't last. 

Lighting made using waterproof materials like bronze or brass can be super-durable, agrees Nels Peterson, the Blingle vice president and brand creator. 

"With landscape lighting, getting brass, bronze or properly powder coated aluminum all will provide years of trouble-free operation," Peterson explains, adding it's important to go with a reputable brand. However, you'll want to dig a bit deeper.

Because lighting options made with specific materials can vary in quality, Freda recommends reading reviews. 

Related: The 35 Best Raised Garden Bed Ideas to Next-Level Your Outdoor Space

What to Consider Before Installing Outdoor Lights

Peterson says step one—the most important consideration—is what you plan to light.

"Illuminating uninteresting material, blank walls or surfaces just tend to create light pollution," Peterson says. "Soft, low-level lighting on the exterior of residences and deciduous trees and shrubs is always your best bet. You want to look for areas that [have] color, such as annual planting beds, pots and urns."

He also suggests keeping foot traffic flow in mind.

Peterson recommends asking yourself: "What areas need to be lit for safe passage along pathways and walkways?" and "What areas can I edit out that don't need to be illuminated?"

Also, are you installing them, or should you call in a professional?

"High-voltage fixtures will also need to be installed by an electrician and can’t be moved as easily as low-voltage fixtures, so that should be taken into consideration in advance," Freda says.

Cobly suggests considering how you want to control outdoor lights, such as switches or modern-day smart-home options.

Related: 35 Pergola Ideas to Completely Transform Your Outdoor Space

35 Outdoor Lighting Ideas

1. Smart styles

<p>Photographer: Adrienne DeRosa | Houzz</p>

Photographer: Adrienne DeRosa | Houzz

Go ahead and blend modern technology with throwback appeal. The good news? Smart technology doesn't diminish the aesthetic of a space, such as this mid-century home in Philly. Yet, it can provide modern-day creature comforts.  

"Along with your lighting plan, decide how you’d like to control your lighting," Cobly says. "While some homeowners opt for wall-mounted switches, pros on Houzz regularly incorporate smart technology for optimal convenience."

2. Lofty lighting goals

<p>The Turett Collaborative</p>

The Turett Collaborative

Jessica Shaw, the interior design director at the architecture and interiors firm The Turett Collaborative, says overhead lighting fixed to a ceiling can "create a more enjoyable glow than harsh patio lighting." For instance, an outdoor chandelier illuminated the outdoor space of this New York City penthouse without taking up space on the ground.

3. Highs and lows

<p>Amber Freda</p>

Amber Freda

This rooftop container garden in Brooklyn boasts low-voltage uplighting in the plants and string lighting in the pergola. 

"The lighting really adds a warm, cozy glow to the space, which makes it especially inviting looking at night," Freda says.

4. A+ for zig-zags

<p>Amber Freda</p>

Amber Freda

Using string lights to illuminate an outdoor space isn't any more groundbreaking than florals for spring fashion. Yet, how you hang these lights may make even Miranda Priestly crack a small.

"String lights zig-zagged over a space is a cheerful effect that comes across as more informal, casual and fun than other types of lighting," Freda says.

5. Sunset chic

<p>Amber Freda</p>

Amber Freda

You want your lighting to help you enjoy your surroundings, not take away from them.

"These low-voltage LED uplights add a warm, ambient glow that doesn’t compete with the spectacular sunset view over Manhattan," Freda says.

6. Soft and soothing

<p>Amber Freda</p>

Amber Freda

Another way to call gentle attention to natural surroundings? Uplighting.

"Uplighting can be used to highlight attractive looking plants and trees in the garden while still remaining soft enough to not create much glare or intrude on the soothing nighttime ambiance," Freda says.

7. Star-studded designs

<p>Photographer Meghan O’Brien</p>

Photographer Meghan O’Brien

"You don’t have to be a Hollywood superstar to understand the importance of good lighting," says Andrea Scharff, the principal of Andrea Scharff Landscape Design. "Good garden lighting allows you to enjoy your garden in the evenings, inside and outside your home."

Yet, you can still set a scene that'll leave you starry-eyed.

"For a project I completed a few years back, we repurposed Moravian star lights by rewiring them and hanging them in a Chinese Elm tree," Scharff says. "There are a lot of new solar-powered or rechargeable lanterns that are fabulous looking and eco-friendly." 

For instance, you might try Chinese lanterns in place of Moravian star lights if that's more your style.

8. Stepping up

<p>Laura Brophy Interiors</p>

Laura Brophy Interiors

Laura Brophy, the principal and creative director of Laura Brophy Interiors, says it's essential to know your "why" when installing lights. For instance, well-lit stairs illuminate a pathway, making it safer.

9. Finishing touch

<p>Photographer Kyle J. Caldwell</p>

Photographer Kyle J. Caldwell

Elana T. Cline, the founder of Carta Creatives, says the sconces here from Original BTC are finished in copper and will patina over time. 

"I like selecting outdoor lighting that has natural patina so the lighting will age with the exterior architecture of the home," she says.

10. Tiki party

<p>Photographer Kyle J. Caldwell</p>

Photographer Kyle J. Caldwell

Although a Hawaiian getaway may not be in your future, you can say "Aloha" to chilling by the pool tiki-style. 

"We selected hardwired Tiki Lights that have a beautiful glow and downlight with a citronella component at the top," says Cline of this poolscape. "They are also on timers...Every night, they are set to go off at a certain time."

11. Light shower

<p>Photographer Jane Beiles</p>

Photographer Jane Beiles

Lighting in and outside of an outdoor bathroom ensures safety. 

"We used this modern sconce on the wall outside of the cabana bathroom that is used for the pool and the lakefront access," says Denise Davies, the founder of D2 Interieurs. "The outdoor shower is also there, and the sconce adds additional lighting for late afternoon and evening swims and showers."

Related: Hate Snakes? Here Are 15 Plants That Will Help Keep Them Out of Your Yard This Summer

12. Passing through

<p>Photographer Jack Gardner</p>

Photographer Jack Gardner

"This breezeway connects multiple structures on this property, forming an exterior passageway to access the living spaces," says Brad Ramsey, the principal and founder of Brad Ramsey Interiors. "The multiple Moravian star lanterns add character and a lovely cast of light to the long passageway that draws your eye through the space to the front and back exterior doors."

13. Recession

<p>Photographer Sandro de Carvalho</p>

Photographer Sandro de Carvalho

Davies used recessed lighting for the covered patio of this home.

"The lighting design is important to note here and how balanced it is," she says. "It creates an ambiance and a mood for entertaining when the sun goes down."

14. Blackout

<p>Photographer Sandro de Carvalho</p>

Photographer Sandro de Carvalho

Sometimes, the littlest details can make a significant impact.

"We used a black finish on the outdoor lights to tie into the black around the windows," Davies says of the facelift she gave to a more than 100-year-old detached barn.

15. Outdoor dining aesthetic

<p>Photographer Regan Wood</p>

Photographer Regan Wood

Claire Paquin of Clean Design loves how the lighting in this outdoor dining room made a statement.

"We included bold, modern chandeliers," she says. "The metal drum shades by Hinkley are constructed in aluminum with a black finish."

16. Layered looks

<p>Photographer Regan Wood</p>

Photographer Regan Wood

Layering isn't just for keeping warm post-sunset.

"In this modern colonial home, we layered different types of outdoor lighting for a dramatic effect at night," Paquin says. 

Paquin used hanging lanterns on the side porch for a decorative feel and modern sconces between bays of garage doors. 

"Between the windows, we used sconces that throw light both up and down in a white finish that blends in with the house during the day," she adds.

17. Go big

<p>Photographer Donna Doltan</p>

Photographer Donna Doltan

"Scale for exterior lighting is very important, and I would always encourage you to select lighting that is bigger than you think it should be," Paquin says. "Then, it will be the perfect size."

For instance, Paquin chose sconce lanterns in various sizes for this traditional, shingle-style home.

"While we have a generous hanging pendant at the front door and large sconces on the porch flanking the windows, we use smaller sconces over the garage bays," she explains.

18. Splashy spotlights

<p>Willow Gates Landscaping</p>

Willow Gates Landscaping

Dive in with confidence by creating a well-lit poolscape that puts a spotlight on function and safety.

"No lights were desired around the edge of the poolside patio that might get damaged during regular use of the pool," says Jeremy Martin, the CEO of Willow Gates Landscaping. "Spotlights highlight the fence and graze the dwarf fountain grasses."

19. Ultimate undercaps

<p>Willow Gates Landscaping</p>

Willow Gates Landscaping

Small space? It's not a big problem. Numerous areas of a yard can provide a perfect spot for patio lighting.

"Undercap lighting helps create ambiance in this small patio area," Martin says.

20. Hiding places

<p>Photographer Nels Peterson AOLP, COLD</p>

Photographer Nels Peterson AOLP, COLD

Lighting is visible but can also add an element of mystery, as evidenced in this home in a Minnesota suburb. 

"What I love about this home is that by moving fixtures farther away in areas of the residence, we came up with a soft overall look," Peterson says. "By hiding the fixtures carefully, it's almost as if everything is self-illuminating."

Related: 15 Plants That Can Help Repel Bees and Keep Them Out of Your Yard

21. Grand entrance

<p>Nels Peterson AOLP, COLD, Tim Ryan Photography</p>

Nels Peterson AOLP, COLD, Tim Ryan Photography

This property looks straight out of an enchanting fairytale, and the outdoor lighting is the unsung hero.

"The driveway and entrance are carefully lit up to create a dramatic effect," Peterson said of the grand entrance on this project for a historic estate completed in 2024.

22. Backlighting

<p>Photographer and landscape designer Melanie Rekola</p>

Photographer and landscape designer Melanie Rekola

"You're backlit" isn't what you want to hear when posing for a photo. Yet, it's a great way to illuminate an outdoor space.

"Backlighting (sometimes called silhouette lighting) is achieved by placing the light source behind the tree so that the tree shows as a dark silhouette," says Melanie Rekola, a landscape designer.

23. Whimsy styles

<p>Photographer and landscape designer Melanie Rekola</p>

Photographer and landscape designer Melanie Rekola

Function meets style—without breaking the bank—with this idea from Rekola. 

"I suggest solar lighting like these whimsical jar lights as a supplement to other lighting sources and techniques," she says. "These are low cost and such a fun, easy touch."

24. Oh, the drama

<p>Photographer Andrew Sherman, owner of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Long Island</p>

Photographer Andrew Sherman, owner of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Long Island

When Sherman and Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Long Island took on this job, they aimed to create drama and illuminate the 35-foot trees. The catch? They couldn't take away from the beauty of the home. 

"We were able to match the color temperature—that's how lighting is measured—of the home by using the appropriate color temperature of the landscape lighting on the trees," Sherman says. "That way, the lights complemented each other and did not take away from each other."

Mission accomplished—the homeowner was thrilled.

25. Tranquil oasis

<p>Photographer Andrew Sherman, owner of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Long Island</p>

Photographer Andrew Sherman, owner of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Long Island

Sherman and his team wanted to highlight the water features in this small pond with beautiful landscaping and statues.

"Using the appropriate lighting to light up each aspect of this pond and give each of the individual elements their ability to shine was tricky," Sherman says. "We achieved the end goal by using different types of outdoor landscape lighting fixtures. Some gave a washed light, some were spotlights, and some were well lights. Each individual element of this project came together to form a seamless and uniform project that worked well together."

26. First impressions

<p>System Pavers</p>

System Pavers

Aaron Brundage, the director of operations at System Pavers, describes this driveway as a "grand entrance." 

"This epic driveway features an elegant paving stone design that’s highlighted at all hours thanks to subtle outdoor lighting incorporated along its winding edges," Brundage says. "Because this driveway had a bit of an incline and curve, adding lighting was especially important to ensure parking and navigating tight corners was easier."

Related: 40 Best Spring Flowers to Beautify Your Backyard, According to Gardening Experts

27. Game over? No way.

<p>System Pavers</p>

System Pavers

Thanks to MVP-worthy outdoor lighting choices, people who adore outdoor games can keep playing after dark, ensuring no match ends in a dreaded tie.

"Artfully placed outdoor lighting keeps this yard well-lit for after-dark get-togethers," Brundage says. "The built-in step lighting minimizes the risk of tripping, while lights installed along the low courtyard sitting wall illuminate the turf so that playtime doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down."

28. Playtime

<p>markilux USA</p>

markilux USA

Color adds an element of surprise. 

"Embrace the poetic interplay of color and light to curate atmospheres that mirror the soul of each environment," suggests Ashley Smith, the president and managing director of markilux USA. "LED lighting capabilities enable this transition between atmospheres and times of day, providing a wide range of colors and intensities that can be tailored to any occasion or mood."

29. Let your lighting change throughout the day

<p>Original BTC</p>

Original BTC

Outdoor lighting isn't set-it-and-forget-it.

"Well-planned lighting will ensure your outdoor dining space can be enjoyed from breakfast time until long after the sun sets," says Charlie Bowles, the director of Original BTC. "Have your lights installed on a dimmer circuit so you can create a warm glow once the meal is cleared away, the kids have gone to bed and after-dinner drinks are being poured.”

30. On deck

<p>Trex Company</p>

Trex Company

"This waterfront deck is outfitted with deck rail lighting, ensuring that lake lovers can enjoy the great outdoors well after sunsets," says Leslie Adkins, the group vice president of marketing and ESG Development for Trex Company. "Integrated directly into railing posts, the slim profile of these components blends in with railings during the day but stands out beautifully at night."

Related: 25 Gorgeous Flowers and Plants That Attract Hummingbirds

31. Winning combo

<p>Trex Company</p>

Trex Company

Diversify the lighting options you choose, and you'll find yourself spending more time outside.

"By installing a combination of string, deck and post cap lighting, this outdoor space allows the homeowner to extend the amount of time they can spend enjoying nature," Adkins says.

32. A good kind of gaslighting

<p>Photographer Nathan Schroder</p>

Photographer Nathan Schroder

Eddie Maestri, the principal architect and creative director of Maestri Studio, envisioned a simple light fixture for this space, which was already full of bright colors and patterns.

"Growing up in New Orleans, I have always loved gas lanterns," Maestri says. "This natural gas hanging lantern provides a gentle ambiance as daylight fades, making the space seem alive."

Bonus: The fixture he picked also matched the proportion of the pile openings, creating a cohesive look.

33. Candlelit dinner

<p>Paige Rumore Photography</p>

Paige Rumore Photography

A classic (with a convenient contemporary twist).

"Gathering together by candlelight is always a special way to enjoy alfresco dining. The wind is often an issue with an open flame, so we opted for lanterns and battery-operated candles," Ramsey says. "They can be set on a schedule or turned on and off when needed, and with a gentle integrated flicker, they feel very natural and inviting."

34. Make a statement

<p>Photography Life Created</p>

Photography Life Created

Go off the beaten path. 

"To enhance this outdoor living area, my aim was to integrate a contemporary organic lighting fixture that is suitable for outdoor use and offers a more captivating appeal than conventional outdoor lighting options," says Lauren Lerner, the CEO and founder of Living with Lolo. "This space is visible from the indoor living room, so it is crucial that the lighting creates a seamless transition between the two spaces."

35. Find your niche

<p>Photographer Lisa Romerin</p>

Photographer Lisa Romerin

Josh Smith says this hillside niche exudes enchanted oasis vibes at every turn. 

"The lanterns play perfectly into that charming feel," says Joshua Smith, the principal and founder of Joshua Smith Inc. "They provide gentle ambiance for a nighttime dip in the pool."

Up Next: 73 Inspiring Bedroom Ideas and Expert Tips to Transform Your Home, According to Interior Designers

Expert Sources