Outdoor Lighting Tips for Amazing Spaces and Gardens

A collage showcasing various outdoor lighting ideas.

Outdoor lighting doesn’t have to be complicated — or basic and boring. As an expert electrician in Cherry Hill, David Gancz and his team at PrimeBSF install diverse types of lighting for various needs. Light plays a huge role in our lives, whether it is from the sun or artificial sources, so it is important to consider how different sources of light interact when planning solutions for your outdoor space. 

With the right materials, placement and atmosphere, you can transform your patio, deck, backyard or garden into a luminous delight that you and your guests love to spend time in.

How Outdoor Lighting Works

Natural Light and How it Affects the Overall Effect of Installed Lighting

We need light fixtures most when it is dark, of course, but the lights we use can utilize or interact with daylight and also create stunning effects with it. Especially in the wee hours of the morning, or in the hours before sunset, natural daylight and moonlight will affect the overall effect of installed lights. 

With solar lighting solutions, natural light has a direct impact on function. Are you interested in environmentally-friendly solar lighting? When placed strategically throughout an outdoor space, it can add an economical, energy-saving element to your lighting plan.

Also, consider installing or retrofitting your outdoor lights with LED bulbs. Just make sure you have LED friendly fixtures.

A deck illuminated at night with a table and chairs.


With more complex lighting arrangements, a system with automatic timers can make things more convenient and energy-efficient. Seasons change our hours of daylight, and it is great to have lights turn on just when they’re needed, not too early in the day or too long after nightfall. 

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We can consider the ‘transitional’ times of day as providing various dynamic ‘looks’ with our lighting installments, and if we strive to make the artificial lighting work in harmony with natural light, we can have beautiful light displays that are not static but change gradually throughout the day.

No matter your lighting choices, using technology such as sensors can maximize energy output. It is great to have dimming or brightening occur appropriately throughout the day for aesthetic and functional benefits.  

External Artificial Lighting 

It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but neighbors’ lights, a glow coming from city lights and neighborhood lighting all can impact the ultimate outcome of your lighting design on your property. It is essential not to overlook this ‘external’ lighting factor, as it could influence the color and brightness of your desired effect. Some things are out of our control, such as the floodlight of the resident next door, but by taking details into consideration, we can help our space look it best. 

For example, with external lighting coming into our living space from various sources, some pathway lighting might be enough to illuminate a walkway brightly and also the entire lawn sufficiently. Depending on your needs and preferences, more may be needed. Do you plan to entertain in the yard, and want to have borders of gardens well-lit? Or are you content with minimal to zero lighting in the yard because you and your guests usually do not venture onto the lawn at night?  

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A backyard with a fire pit and benches illuminated by outdoor lighting.

Function and Style in Outdoor Lighting Design

Highlight Your Outdoor Space

What are your favorite parts about your outdoor space? Things such as a stunning fountain, a fire pit, gorgeous stone walkways or a beautiful garden should be strategically highlighted.

Should Lights Be Hidden or Visible?

What look are you going for when it comes to your outdoor space? Is it important to you that light sources are subtly incorporated with decor or hidden? Bold, highly visible lights can be equally stunning, depending on the resident’s desires. 

A group of logs in a wooded area featuring outdoor lighting.

Poolside Lighting

With pools, light not only originates from outside the water or from underwater but also reflects off of water to create effects that have to be considered for the best overall display. 

For a great guide to pool lighting ideas, see HGTV’s pool lighting tips

Structure of the space vs. structure of the lights 

To bring out the beauty of your deck, garden or other outdoor space, we need to consider the structure of your space, how light interacts with it and what your ultimate vision is. Should a deck be filled with a soft, cozy glow of diffused light? Does an intricate array of interlocking beams of light add visual interest to a walkway, or does it detract from the beauty of the stonework? 

Is overhead lighting with ceiling fans and recessed lighting an option? Do you like to entertain and want flexible lights that can be adjusted easily to shift to different angles? As a garden grows, the way light interacts with the space will change, and controls may become less accessible with vines, branches, and flowers taking shape. 

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Placement of lights may also need to be adjusted with an evolving landscape. This Old House’s advice for landscape lighting can help you learn more about how to optimally illuminate your backyard, garden and more. 

Outdoor pathway lit up at night.

Outdoor Lighting to Fit Your Style

Whether you are looking for a minimal and functional lighting solution or an elaborate outdoor lighting display, it is important for you to take all of the crucial factors affecting your end result into consideration. Growing gardens, shifting preferences, architectural elements and more will contribute to our approach to your lighting installment. 

Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.

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