Outdoor Lighting Options: Tips For Using Outdoor Garden Lighting

By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)

Outdoor lighting not only highlights interesting features but provides your home and surrounding landscape with additional beauty and security. The key to using outdoor lighting is knowing exactly what garden features you want to emphasize and how you want to do it. For example, do you want to accentuate a flower bed, highlight a focal point, or are you more interested in lighting up a walkway or front entrance?

Landscape Lighting Design

Take a close look around your home so you can see what you have to work with before you get started. Take note of whether or not there are any electrical outlets nearby; otherwise, you might need to reconsider your outdoor lighting options. If there are no outlets in the area that you want to highlight, you can still provide low-key lighting. This type of light provides subtle hints of illumination wherever you need it through the use of lanterns, candles, and strings of light. You could also consider using solar-powered lighting in these areas.


There are many outdoor lighting options to choose from when it comes to your landscape lighting needs. Low-voltage garden lighting is one of the more commonly used forms. Low-voltage lighting is safe, easy to install, and relatively inexpensive depending on your needs.

Landscape lighting kits are widely available in most home and garden centers. These come in a variety of styles that offer different lighting techniques for whichever lighting effect you wish to achieve in your landscape lighting deisgn. With low-voltage lighting, you can achieve special effects through downlighting or uplighting methods.

Outdoor Lighting Options

Downlighting is generally used for security purposes and produces a more natural effect as it comes from above, like the sun or moon. You can easily imitate moonlight by placing the fixtures in one or more large trees. Careful placement at different angles should provide you with a good balance of light. Downlighting is an effective way to highlight walkways and driveways. The fixtures can easily be concealed within plants or low-voltage garden lighting that resemble lamp posts can be used. Just make sure that the lights are shielded to reduce glare.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking to add drama to a specific part of the landscape, then uplighting is the way to go. This type of landscape lighting produces the opposite effect from natural light since it comes from below. Uplighting is often used for highlighting focal points, such as plants or other objects. Placing the fixtures near a wall and pointing upward creates a subtle effect. The object will be lit up enough to notice; yet, no details can be made out. If you want to create a silhouette of an object, simply place the fixture behind it. Moving the fixture towards the front of an object will have the opposite effect, producing shadows.

Using Outdoor Lighting

Low-voltage garden lighting is acceptable for most of your outdoor lighting needs. If you’re installing this type of lighting for the first time, the transformer should be mounted off the ground and near an electrical outlet. Fixtures can be placed wherever you want, according to your specific lighting needs.

Cables can be clamped into a suitable connector and easily concealed within shallow trenches that are anywhere from 3 to 6 inches deep. Mulch or some type of ground cover can also be used to help conceal these areas. Low-voltage lighting requires little attention other than routine maintenance, which includes regular cleaning of fixtures and replacement of blown or damaged bulbs.

Landscape lighting creates an inviting and safe environment for yourself and others. Using outdoor lighting is also an easy and effective way to spruce up your garden surroundings.

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