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Landscape Lighting 101

Everything you need to know to see your yard in a new light
house at dusk with pool

People love spending as much time outdoors as possible — especially during the summer.

But when the good times roll into the night, having a good lighting system can keep you and your loved ones outside longer. 

There’s a lot more to landscape lighting than adding a few solar lights in your garden. You have to consider the type of light you want, the materials you'd like it made from and the areas you want to be illuminated. I break it all down in this post.

fire pit and pool

Lighting techniques and types

There are many choices when it comes to landscape lighting and it’s often considered as a design element in a landscape. Landscape lighting  can be used for safety, ambiance or accentuating features of your outdoor space.

Regardless of what you’re using the lights for, here’s a basic rundown of the most common types available.

  • Downlighting and uplighting —Uplighting involves installing lights on or in the ground to highlight a garden or architectural features. Downlighting involves installing a light in a tree or on a roof to cast downward shadows. Both of these techniques are used to create ambience or mood, or to draw the eye to certain focal points in a landscape.

  • Post lights — These are standard posts that are used along pathways. They are made of sturdy materials and are connected with a low-voltage wire, so you’ll still have light even on cloudy days or in shady areas.

  • Step lights — These lights are a great safety feature. They are installed beneath the risers of stairs or steps, which helps people find their way and prevents them from being injured from trips and falls. They’re also great for “wayfinding” — helping guests navigate a new landscape by lighting the ideal pathway through it.

stairs with lights
  • Water feature & custom lighting — You can add light anywhere in your yard to highlight special water features, specimen trees and statues. Or change the mood entirely by using different colour combinations.

  • Pathway lighting — Similar to post lights, these pathway lights are inground “pot” lights that light up pathways and patios (and outdoor structures too!). Instead of being on a post with a lamp, they are level with the ground and look great in a modern landscape.

  • Pool and coping lighting — add lights in your pool for a midnight swim or add them around your pool to keep people safe.

  • Accent and sconce lighting — These lights are installed under the “caps” of hardscape features, such as stone walls that surround fire pits and patios. The light fits under the cap and casts its light downward, creating a delightful glow.

back patio with lights

How much will it cost?

Landscape lighting has many variables that can affect its cost, as lighting comes in different materials and sizes for individual outdoor spaces. It all depends on what you want but we break down common questions here.

  • What materials is the fixture made from? — There are three common types of materials —  powder-coated aluminum, copper or brass. Copper and brass are considered premium materials as they are strong and durable and are the preferred materials to use, particularly if the fixture itself will be a focal point in your landscape. Aluminium is the more affordable option, but will not stand up over time.

  • How many lights are in your landscape? — The more lights you have, the more it will cost. The type of light you choose will also be a factor in the price.

  • Will you need an electrician? — The Canadian Electrical Industry has strict codes and guidelines when it comes to lighting. So if your landscape lighting requires a transformer or ground fault circuit interrupters you will need the services of an electrician for yourself and your home's safety.

  • Will your system need to be designed? — Although you can DIY, a designer will draw up a comprehensive plan, finding the best fixtures for your project and placing them where they will give the biggest impact.

beach, back patio and light up stairs

Add lighting to your landscape.

With a carefully designed lighting system in hand, you can enjoy your landscape throughout the night and see your property in a whole new light!

If you have any further questions about landscape lighting or would like a lighting system designed and installed for your landscape, get in touch with us to see how we can help.

Written by: TIM DEGELDER