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Outdoor Lighting

Updated on November 9, 2010

Some people are surprised by the amount of time and care is takes to keep your home looking beautiful both inside and out.  Your yard and garden are the first thing that any visitor or potential home buyer will see when they come to your home.  It is very important that you take care of it and make it presentable both day and night.  In order to accent the features of your landscaping and keep your home looking beautiful at night, you will need outdoor lighting.  Outdoor lighting comes in many varieties and is appropriate in many different places.  There is outdoor garden lighting, outdoor pathway lighting, outdoor step lighting, outdoor accent lighting, outdoor patio lighting, and outdoor security lighting.  No matter how large or small your house is or if you garden or not, there is an appropriate outdoor lighting scheme for you and your home.

Outdoor Garden Lighting

If you are one of those lucky people who has a green thumb or if you can afford to pay a landscaper, then you probably have an outdoor garden full of flowers, vegetables, or both. Most people like to show off all their hard work on their garden and therefore need to light it during the night so as many people can enjoy it as possible. Outdoor garden lighting needs to be subtle so that it doesn’t ruin the aesthetic during the day. Most outdoor garden lighting fixtures are disguised as something else. For example, you might find a garden gnome to be a light, or the frog or groundhog statue. Other outdoor garden lighting ideas are long sticks that you put into the ground with small butterflies, fireflies, or other insects on the upper ends that light up at night. Still another outdoor lighting idea is a garden rock that is a disguised light fixture. Most of these garden lights will be solar powered so that you do not have to ruin the aesthetics of your garden by running cords to an outlet near your house. In addition, you will not have to worry about burying the cords and possibly disturbing the root growth of your plants or the possibility of electric shock when watering your garden with the garden hose.

Outdoor Accent Lighting

If you have other outdoor landscaping besides your flower garden then you might consider some outdoor accent lighting to highlight it. I carefully placed spot light can accentuate a particularly lovely arrangement of bushes or flowers. Not only will outdoor accent lighting show off your landscaping, but it will show anyone who has to walk through the yard where it is so they can avoid it. If you live on a street without street lights then your outdoor accent lighting might be the only way to light your yard for visitors. Just like with garden lights, the accent lighting might be disguised as a rock or statue so that it is not so obvious during daylight hours. Solar light fixtures work well in this circumstance as well because you do not have to run electrical cords across your yard.

Outdoor Pathway Lighting

If people need to walk up a pathway or sidewalk from your driveway to the front door, then you should consider installing outdoor pathway lighting to help show them the way.  Outdoor pathway lights are not meant to shed a lot of light all over your yard.  Instead, they are meant to show only the sidewalk immediately around them.  That is why the pathway will generally be lined with little light posts on both sides so that the sidewalk is lighted the entire way to the front door.  For the same reasons as outdoor garden lighting and outdoor accent lighting, solar pathway lights are your best choice.  Outdoor pathway lights are most often shaped like little lanterns or light posts that raise up about ten to twelve inches above the ground.

Outdoor Step Lighting

Once your guests make their way up your path or sidewalk with the help of the outdoor pathway lighting, the steps leading up to your porch are the next things they need to navigate.  Outdoor step lighting will help them with this process.  Outdoor step lighting is installed on the riser parts of the steps so that each step is illuminated.  The lights are generally attached to the riser somehow via either screws or nails.  The electrical cords or solar collecting panels if the lights are solar are generally hidden from view or installed elsewhere on the porch.  If you do not have risers on your staircase, then your outdoor step lighting will have to be in the form of spots installed on the porch that shine down on the steps.

Outdoor Patio Lighting

Of course, not all of the outdoor lighting for your home is for accent or decorative purposes.  Some outdoor lighting is installed so that you can gather and have activities outdoors after dark.  Outdoor patio lighting is a way to keep your patio or deck functional during the evening hours and on cloudy or overcast days.  Outdoor patio lighting might take the form of hanging lights, spot lights installed on the side of the house, floor lamps, table lamps that sit on outdoor furniture, or wall mounted fixtures.  If the outdoor patio lighting is affixed to the house and the electric switch is located inside, then you can have regular lights with light bulbs because the rain and elements outside will not affect the electronics.  However, if you are using lamps that need to be plugged in and have switches on the lamp, then you probably want to avoid electrical lights and go with solar patio lights instead.  The light that comes from outdoor solar lights will not be as bright as the light that comes from a regular light bulb, so you might need more lights with that scenario.

Outdoor Security Lighting

One last way that homeowners use outdoor lighting is for security.  Motion sensitive lights can be installed around doors or garages so that they turn on any time someone approaches the house.  Many homeowners use solar security lights, but there is a concern about the brightness.  You want an outdoor security light to be bright and to startle anyone who is approaching your home when it turns on.  You need a solar light fixture with many LEDs to accomplish that task.  A regular light fixture with a cord might be better for outdoor security lighting for this reason.  Some top of the line security lights have adjustable parameters so that you can change how sensitive they are to movement and at what radius, as well as how long they stay on.


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    • profile image

      Karolin 4 years ago

      Jayna - As a former dncear and instructor I must say that you have captured the spirit of the dncear on film so beautifully. The lighting was superb and you balanced out the dncear and studio perfectly. The subject was not the dncear but all her life was about. The discipline, hard work, long hours, stretching, pushing her body to and beyond limits.Thank you for sharing these!

    • TheHubDoctor profile image

      TheHubDoctor 7 years ago from Mount Kisco, NY

      Great Hub.

    • Trinsick profile image

      Trinsick 7 years ago from Cali

      I'm terrible at anything related to handy work, thanks for making this seem like a task i could handle.