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How to Choose Modern Landscape Lighting

How To

Landscape lighting is a category of lighting designed to illuminate exterior spaces and outdoor elements, from built pathways and patios, to trees and natural topography. Modern landscape lighting serves the dual purpose of creating a visually attractive extension of a home’s interior scheme, while also providing vital outdoor illumination that ensures safety and security.

Why is Landscape Lighting Important?

Modern landscape lighting is essential for keeping paths and stairways well lit at night, and helps ensure the safety and security of a home, as well as that of its occupants and its guests. Used to accent architecture and trees, contemporary landscape lighting also has the potential to create exterior spaces every bit as dramatic as a home’s interior décor. As with interior lighting choices, modern landscape lights are available in a variety of designs, from basic to elaborate models—and installing a combination of landscape fixtures typically yields the most striking results.

Types of Landscape Lighting

Path Lighting

Path Lights, as the name suggests, are designed specifically to illuminate walkways at night, typically emitting downward light along a path’s length. Whether providing vital nighttime light or making an attractive visual statement, whether subtle or showy, path lights play a vital role in creating both a practical and esthetically pleasing landscape lighting scheme.

Step Lights

Also known as brick lights, step lights are essential for exterior stairs and staircases, illuminating subtle changes in elevation that can be difficult or dangerous to negotiate in the dark. Additionally, step lights make attractive visual statements at night, ensuring that a beautifully designed set of stairs remains as attractive in the dark as it looks in the light of day.


Deck Lights

Deck lights are outdoor lamps that help define external built spaces, like patios, porches, balconies and decks. Modern deck lights are key to creating outdoor areas that extend functional living spaces beyond walls, and transforming them into visually edifying spaces for dining and entertaining at night. Installed on exterior walls, deck posts and railings, contemporary deck lights are available in a range of designs—from striking to subtle.

Spot Lights

Spot lights are versatile outdoor lights that can serve a variety of functions, from highlighting architectural elements to creating subtle washes of light across a wall. Modern spot lights, in general, are designed to draw attention away from themselves and towards specific features in a landscape or on the exterior of a building or home.

Well Lights

Well lights are essentially recessed lights designed for outdoor use. A more subtle fixture that recesses into the ground, well lights are Ideal for accenting specific outdoor features as well providing necessary lighting for certain sections of an outdoor landscape. Modern well lights are designed for in-ground installation and vary in accordance with weight restrictions, some created to be walked on, others able to bear the weight of cars. Outdoor well lights carry a lower profile, and recede from, rather than protrude into, the environment.

Hardscape Lighting

Hardscape lighting is accent lighting, ideal for use on retaining walls, pergolas, fence rails, and under seating. Typically featuring small connectable fixtures, modern hardscape lighting is decorative and more nuanced, creating visual interest and inserting ambience into patios, decks, balconies, and gardens, while complementing the space’s primary light source.


Bollards are path lights designed specifically to make a strong landscape lighting statement. Installed in the ground, bollard lights have a more architectural presence, emerging from the ground several inches, or, in some cases, several feet, to illuminate pathways and roads, and to direct the flow of traffic. Highly practical for large landscape settings, modern bollards are designed to be seen clearly, even from a distance, and should ideally be a visual complement to the landscape’s overall design scheme.

Landscape Lighting Technical Specifications

Knowing the different landscape lighting fixtures available to you is only the first step in creating a practical and inspiring outdoor lighting scheme. Technical specifications—low voltage or line voltage, transformers, timers, dimmers, etc—will be contingent upon your specific needs and the local codes of your town or city. Consult our modern landscape lighting guide on how best to use the various types of landscape lighting fixtures available in order to arrive at the best outdoor lighting solution for your home.

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