Landscape Design: What You Need to Know About Patio Lighting

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Mitchell

Mike Mitchell is an award-winning deck builder and designer who specializes in urban decking, transforming cityscapes with his creative constructions. He is a second-generation deck builder.

Table of Contents

Lighting is an essential part of any landscape design as it contributes not only to the overall look of the space, but also adds a few safety elements too. As you think of ways to create the backyard space of your dreams, here’s what you need to know about deck and patio lighting.

Functional First

Before we get into the fun, decorative options, let’s first cover some choices to make that will help you use your outdoor living space better and more safely. First on the list are stairs and entryways as those pose the most danger after dark. While an overhead light may provide the illumination necessary to walk safely, adding lights directly to the stair risers and treads is a more subtle way to get the job done.

Another option to consider is post cap lights that can be used around your patio and deck or along the fencing surrounding your yard. Many post cap lights are solar powered so there’s no need to worry about stringing cords, and most offer very soft illumination so the evening mood isn’t broken.

Next, the main sitting area should have at least one bright overhead light. While you may not wish to use this light very often, it is an important safety feature to have in case of an accident, emergency, or any other time you want to clearly see your space after sunset. If possible, this light should be motion-sensing security lights that can be temporarily disabled when you want to enjoy a darker scene.

Decorative Ideas

There is no limit to the decorative lighting options to enhance your landscape design. Most of these ideas are available as solar-powered so you don’t have to worry about an elaborate electrical scheme outdoors. Here are just a few fun ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Path Lighting. While this option is certainly functional as it will help guide you around your yard at night, path lighting is also a great way to illuminate your landscaping at any hour.
  • String Lighting. Soft, low-voltage string lights can be the perfect accent lighting to create a warm, cozy outdoor dining area that your friends and family will enjoy gathering under.
  • Sconces. A bit more formal than string lighting, the design options for sconces are nearly limitless, and they provide a classic way to provide soft light across a large area.
  • Lanterns. Whether attached to your home or as stand-alone decor on a tabletop, lanterns are a classic outdoor adornment that’s perfect for outdoor entertaining and relaxation.
  • Spot Lighting. Sometimes referred to as “uplighting,” spotlighting is a garden design tool used to highlight your favorite ornamental or plant features around your deck, patio, and yard.

Add a Little Fire

Whether you like a roaring bonfire or a cozy tabletop flame, fires are a great way to add a bit of light and warmth to your outdoor space. When choosing options for your deck and patio, be sure to pay attention to what’s safe for your surfaces as some choices may ruin your finishes or pose a fire hazard in the wrong situation.

Tabletop fuel-burning stoves are always a good option as they produce only a small amount of heat and are contained in a fire-safe container. They are also easy to extinguish by covering with a lid. Fire tables follow the same principles as fuel-burning stoves, but are larger, warmer, and tend to be a stand-alone item.

If you’re considering a fire pit or other wood-burning option, be sure to choose a model that’s safe for your space. Over time, a fire pit can cause concrete to crack, and fire is an obvious hazard for a wood deck so consider using an ember mat to protect your surface and reduce the risk of spreading flames. It’s also important to place any heat sources and flames far from your home, furniture, plants, or anything flammable.

Where to Begin?

If you’re not sure where to begin adding lighting that will complement your landscape design ideas while also providing the safety features you need, we can help! Our crew has the experience you need to make the right decisions and the sharp eye to know what will look best. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.