How do you create a back yard that’s light years ahead of others? One way is to illuminate the space. Since many people work or play till long after the sun goes down, they often don’t have time to enjoy their backyard until the evening hours. Add outdoor lighting, and your garden is immediately transformed into usable space.
Everyone wants a gorgeous outdoor space. We dream of comfortable spaces that invite you to sit for a while, have another glass of wine and linger in the warm, flower-scented air of evening. Being able to enhance a lovely outdoor design is, of course, just one reason why we light outdoor spaces.
Layering light in your outdoor space creates beautiful highlights and shadows among architectural elements and landscaping. In a space with many different textures and finishes like wood, concrete, and tile, lighting can subtly highlight each of these surfaces to create a dynamic look throughout your yard.
Think about how the space is to be used and plan the outdoor lighting around that. Plotting out your lighting—and remembering the importance of light layering—is critical to getting the right effect and being able to create spaces for different uses.
The trick to getting a well-lit outdoor patio is directing the light just where you need it. When it comes to ambient lighting, overhead lighting is a great option, be it outdoor pendants or even string lights. Blessed with a large garden and a tall canopy? Make the most of your garden’s spaciousness by hanging not just one string of lights, but lots of them, for a shimmering, cascading effect. A beautiful string light zig-zagged over a dining or entertaining space lays down a great soft, overall light and creates an atmosphere like a French café or Italian piazza.
Hang beautiful string lights with auto sensors around your trees and shrubs to add more depth to your landscaping. Your guests will be pleasantly surprised to see the twinkling effect whenever they brush past them, or the breeze blows. You can also find solar-powered variety in these pretty lights.
Smaller bulbs provide a gentler, more decorative background twinkle, while larger ones can provide a fair amount of direct illumination. Remember that once they’re installed, you can always add other types of lighting for extra brightness. Consider where your lights are going and don’t overwhelm. White lights are the most versatile; colorful strands or fun bulb covers can be vibrant options for special occasions.
The ultimate in atmospheric lighting, lanterns and hurricane lamps provide a chic glow and a nautical touch wherever you place them. Because most hurricanes can easily be moved, you can bring them with you as you progress from table to pool to seating area. Electric lanterns, of course, will work well in fixed locations.
Lanterns never really disappeared from the lighting industry. Traditional and dreamy lantern lights will continue to be among the top outdoor lighting trends in 2021. Lantern lights are perfect for lighting unique areas of your patio and deck. You can also opt for beautiful globe-like pendant lights for illuminating your garden trees or plants.
Traditional lanterns are another attractive option for your outdoor lighting. While you can commonly string lights stuffed in glass containers and mason jars, nothing grabs attention like a traditional glass lantern. Many outdoor lanterns feature bulbs that mimic classic gaslight lights from the 1800s. Remember to install these lanterns in sheltered areas to protect them from rain or snow.
When trying to create a real “room” feeling for your outdoor space, nothing creates a more sense of place than pendants or chandeliers. By selecting the perfect minimalistic chandelier or pendant you can easily light and create and enhance the open-air feel of your patio. A chandelier suspended over a dining table can anchor the area; a strategically placed pendant can illuminate a dark corner. Make sure you select fixtures rated for the outdoors and, of course, put them on a dimmer so you can control the light output.
Candles are another great way to create a sense of enchantment in your garden. The candles can be placed around the garden with a naked flame, or they can be placed inside a lantern to emit a glowing effect.
The right pendant lighting can also set your space for the greatest of outdoor parties. Outdoor pendant lights suspended from an overhanging roof line will direct concentrated light above outdoor dining or seating areas. Consider finishes that will mesh well with the surroundings, such as a galvanized metal finish that contrasts beautifully against dark wood. Arrange potted plants and succulents around your patio to add to the cozy ambiance, which will look radiant under the glow of dimmed light at night.
If you want overall illumination, such as in an outdoor dining room, opt for sconces with exposed bulbs. These versatile fixtures can enhance a nook, add ambiance to a dining area, or guide you along a path, and they come in a vast range of styles for mixing and matching. How many sconces you’ll need depends on where they can be mounted. Matching your outdoor wall lights will add to the atmosphere and help layer the lighting with additional ambient or concentrated illumination. Outdoor lights with glass cylinders can give off the impression of an intimate candlelit setting.
Create visual symmetry in an outdoor space with sets of lamps that can be used in different settings. Select floor lamps with a striking shape that puts out bright light to add form and functionality to the space without overdoing it. This is especially useful for rooftop gardens or urban balconies where you may want to section off spaces without adding more architectural elements. If your patio features stonework, look for a complementary finish in your light fixtures. For lighter stone finishes, look to stainless steel or lighter metal finishes. For darker stone, a bronze or black fixture will subtly blend in and allow the light to play off the textured areas.
If you’re into all things high-tech, look for table lamps that have been brought into the 21st century. This may look like an ordinary lantern, but it’s an LED lamp with Bluetooth capabilities, working as both a light and a speaker. Cordless lamps are perfect for outdoor spaces since they can travel with you inside and outside.
Spotlighting or up-lighting is best for illuminating narrow and unique areas of your outdoor spaces. It sounds simple, but it is effective. Reflective light on your trees and walls is an amazing way to light up your garden’s exterior. Consider investing in outdoor LED lights for the garden that are powerful enough to illuminate a bright light – ideally, as close as possible to sunlight – off the garden’s walls, trees or garden beds. The lighting ambiance should be bright enough to provide an inviting social setting. Choose from various moderate to high-intensity beams for highlighting an ornamental feature or beautiful flowers in your garden. Some homeowners install spotlights above or at ground level and below tall trees to make them appear more luminous.
Lastly, consider installing a fire pit. There’s something about the light from a fire that attracts companionship. The soft light and warmth that is emitted from the fire is a great option to add to your garden. Expect stories to be shared, jokes to be told and friendships to be bonded. There are several fire pit designs that you can opt for. After installing the fire pit, be sure to add seating arrangements around the exterior. The colors and shadows from the fire pit should create a warm, inviting ambiance.
Remember to use different types of light to make your exterior appear more Interesting. Good light design uses a mixture of shadows and different levels of lighting. It’s important that there is a good level of contrast in the area. Good lighting can bring Zen-like qualities to any setting. You can rediscover the perimeter of your property, make it fun to entertain and highlight points of interest, such as sculptures or fountains.
Recently, our backyards, patios and gardens have dutifully served greater purposes more than ever before. Over the last two years they have become our happy hour spots, office spaces, escapes for much-needed “me time” and refuges to enjoy the beauty of nature. Adding beautifully layered lighting this summer is the highlight needed to make the outdoor space that much more livable after the sun goes down. As we continue to pursue more sustainable lifestyles, we all find ourselves seeking better mental and physical health. Our home outdoor space will play an integral role going forward into the future.