Types of Landscape Lighting

Types of Landscape Lighting
Learn the techniques and tools for practical and dramatic landscape lighting.

Even the most perfectly landscaped backyard is not the ideal oasis it could be if it is missing one very important thing: landscape lighting. Choosing the right lights for your space and where to put them can be a lot of work, but once you have the lighting perfect, your space becomes even more special and practical, since you can use it even after the sun goes down. As you begin planning your landscape lighting design, here is a quick primer on the types of lighting techniques you have to choose from and the lighting types you should use to achieve them.

Path Lighting

Path lighting is the most common type of landscape lighting you can add to your yard. This type of lighting will make it safe to walk through the yard after dark. All pathways and steps need to be thoroughly lit to keep everyone safe. Thorough lighting does not mean over-lighting, however. Bollard and path lights are two common choices for path lighting, while deck, step, and piedmont lights are prime choices for lighting specialty areas.


Washing refers to lighting that floods a whole area with light, which is best for larger areas that need to be well lit. Washing comes in the form of floodlights. One aims these lights towards a large structure like a wall, fence, or tall hedge. The floodlights illuminate the focal point, but the surroundings are bathed in some light too.


Grazing is an exceptional lighting choice for hardscaped areas because its effect is subtle yet dramatic. Lights installed at the base or top of a focal point shine up or down on it, showing off its beautiful texture. Well lights and hardscape lights both work well for grazing. 

Shadowing Or Silhouetting

Both techniques direct light at an element of your landscaping that is often overlooked in the daylight. Choose a feature that has an eye-catching shape or figure. Place a hidden light behind the focal point and direct it towards your vantage point to achieve silhouetting. Place the lamp between you and the element so that it throws its shadow on the walls or surfaces. Spot lights and well lights work well for both techniques, and you can also achieve shadowing with floodlights.

Up Lighting

Up-lighting is a great way to add drama to the yard and highlight taller trees and objects. When up-lighting objects, you place the lights under them so that they shine up the structure, such as up a tree trunk to illuminate the underside of the canopy. Use spotlights or well lights to achieve up lighting.

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