When you’re designing an outdoor space, you start with a design vision in mind. How you want to use the space drives that vision. You imagine yourself entertaining guests, dining al fresco, and making the most of the outdoor space of your lot. Outdoor lighting design is important to keep in mind to realize your full vision of an outdoor space.
Design For Nighttime Use
Lighting design is critical for making the most of your outdoor spaces during evening hours. You want to use light to create inviting outdoor settings. Ambiance is one factor, but so is safety.
In this example, notice that there are various lighting techniques “layered” to create this effect:
- An overhead light provides low light for comfortable conversations.
- Outdoor string lights around the perimeter of the pergola add a party feeling.
- The uplight on the big tree in the background highlights a major planting feature.
- Wash lights on the back fence show off the plantings and create a warm, safe feeling without shadows.
Highlight Features During Evening Hours
When the sun goes down, it’s disappointing if your beautiful outdoor design is lost in the gloom. It’s important to think about what you want to emphasize at night. Whether it’s vegetation, hardscaping, or other features, you don’t want your spectacular design to disappear from view.
Lighting design helps create focal points throughout the outdoor space. In this photo, you can see the lighting at the top of the tile wall and under the benches. This creates an inviting appearance, drawing guests to the firepit area.
At night, this beautiful and unique waterfall is lit by spotlights so that it stands out. After all, seeing the waterfall is every bit as exciting as hearing it.
In this photo, uplights show off the beautiful shape and colors of the vegetation. Deck lights outline the path so that it’s visible in the dark.
In this photo, you can see how the uplights not only show off the plants, but also create attractive shadows on the white fence behind. Those shadows are an effect of lighting design.
Provide Safety And Security
Safety and security are two of the most important elements of lighting design. As you work on your outdoor space design, take note of your needs for safety and security.
In this photo, downlights light the steps for safety. Note that the hot tub itself has an ambience of relaxation without glaring lights. The plants both near and far are lit.
To understand the contrast of having the perimeter plantings lit, look at the back fence area. Notice how the lighting on the plants in the lower level gives a feeling that you know what’s there. Yet, on the upper level, without lights, that’s more mysterious. These are all lighting design effects.
This photo shows how light has been used to highlight the entrance to the home and showcase the rock landscaping. There is an incline to this driveway and guests would get in and out of their vehicles in this location. This lighting makes it clear what’s happening and where it’s safe to step. There’s no mystery about where the front door is.
This photo of a side yard shows how lighting makes a typically little-used area feel safe and approachable at night. You can see well, without glare and shadows. Lighting fixtures create warm pools of light inviting you down the path.
This photo shows multiple uses of lighting design.
- The lit house number makes it easy to see the house number on this curvy street.
- The combination of the uplight on the tree, along with the lit house number creates a “landmark” that helps visitors visually identify your home at night.
- In the background, the lights on the garage and house bring your home out of the gloom.
- Making your home easily identifiable at night is a safety feature of lighting design.
Don’t Leave Lighting Design Out Of Your Outdoor Space Design
As you can see from these examples, forethought and lighting design can make a lot of difference in the usability of your outdoor space. You want a fantastic outdoor space that you can fully use at night—one that irresistibly invites you outdoors—and makes you want to stay.