Lighten Up – Outdoor lighting ideas to enhance your backyard

During the day, the sun bestows its warm, bright rays on us and highlights all facets of nature and architecture around us. At night, the moon offers a stunning glow but sometimes it’s just not enough—especially when you’re hosting a backyard get together. When you use the right lighting, your backyard becomes an illuminated place of respite (or celebration) during those long, warm summer evenings.

Without outdoor lighting in the backyard at night, it’s easy to forget that an extra space exists. But just because the sun has gone down, it doesn’t mean that the flowers, shrubs, trees, deck, water features—any of the things that you’re proud of in your yard—shouldn’t enjoy time in the spotlight. When placed properly, outdoor lighting enhances those little details and features you are so proud of in your outdoor space. They also keep your yard safe and secure by deterring unwanted guests.

So Solar

Solar lights are the easiest, wire-free way to decorate outside. The only hard part will be selecting a style you like. Just place some in the desired sunny spot to charge during the day and they’ll automatically turn on at dusk—no handyman or electrician required!

Low Voltage Vibes

Another attractive DIY way to brighten up the backyard is with a string of LED lights. LED bulbs can run for about 50,000 hours.  Use them to add some twinkle to railings, trees, shrubs or the patio umbrella. String lights can be used in lieu of candles: place a rolled-up strand under a glass cloche or in an empty wine bottle for a twinkly tabletop display. Plus, you won’t have to worry about them blowing out during a breezy BBQ.

Good Night, Moon

Choose a tree or architectural element to spotlight to add extra interest to the landscape with up lighting. Place a spotlight upwards to accentuate the textures of the leaves and the tree trunk itself. It’s great to have a lit-up yard but remember not to place your lights in such a way that they’ll be glaring spotlights in your neighbours’ windows.

Down the Garden Path

Make guests feel welcome when they arrive in the evening and make them feel safe when it’s time for them to depart. Set path lights along walkways in a relaxed meandering fashion rather than in a straight line or create added lighting accents with lights built into step risers for extra safety.  

Off to Bed

Rope lighting is another way to create an instant effect and it’s also inexpensive. Placing them at the back of your garden bed edging also creates ambient lighting.

Highlight of the Night

If you want to extend your usable living space in the summer months to include the outdoors, there are many options for adding light fixtures to a well-decorated dining or sitting area: for example, a wrought iron chandelier underneath a gazebo or awning adds style and utility to the “room”. For security—or when you need to take the dog out for a bathroom break—motion-sensing lights can be used in areas of the front or back yard, such as the garage or by the back door.

What Lies Beneath

If you’re blessed with a babbling water feature in your backyard, consider adding underwater aquatic lights for a shimmery luminous effect on sculptures, underwater plants and fish when the sun goes down. You can also place suitable (water-rated) floating lights on the surface for special occasions.

With the right lighting, you can create a safe, well-lit ambient space and you’ll be able to enjoy your backyard well into the night.

by Becky Dumais

Local Links

Lane’s Landscaping Supplies

Paradise Lighting

Ultra Lighting

Concept Lighting Group

Boulders Landscape Supply

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