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Landscape Lighting 101: A LEDucational Quick Start Guide



Landscape Lighting 101: A LEDucational Quick Start Guide 

Published: 9/6/2022


Landscape lights can be the flexible, scrappy foot soldiers you need to neatly extend your indoors outdoors. When done correctly, landscape lighting can enhance safety, provide increased security, and color your curb appeal with visual intrigue.


It’s important to first learn the possibilities for landscape lighting placement based on your specific needs and what your natural canvas can handle, especially with robust advancements and features constantly hitting the lighting market. We’ll shed light on common ways to use outdoor illumination in this easy-to-follow crash course. 

Outdoor Lighting Techniques, Terms, and Types

Light itself is a mystery. It’s shapeless, yet it can effectively measure an impression, both literally and symbolically. How appealing would Paris’ Pont Alexandre III bridge be without light accentuating its nuanced Art Nouveau lamp posts? How inviting would Lady Liberty be without her torch’s guiding inspiration?


Whether your outdoor lighting aim is to entertain, to escape, or both, establishing your landscape’s legacy is key. Before charting your course of action, let’s explore basic lighting terminology, types, and techniques to better assist you during your journey.

Landscape Lighting Techniques 

Landscape lights each have their own place as well as a unique strategy to texturize your space according to your standards. There are so many places you can add style and so many places it can make your home more secure and more functional during the nighttime hours. Experience comfort on a natural level with these validated approaches to successful outdoor illumination.

Downlighting directs light downward from a tree or under the eaves of a house to upgrade safety and capture exciting features of your landscape such as tree leaves and branches.

Uplighting involves drawing attention to intricacies of your landscape by placing lights at the base of trees, columns or distinctive statues.

Grazing adds depth and character to stucco, brick, stonework, or architectural features of a home or building.

Moonlighting involves placing a lumen fixture high in a tree to catch the details of its leaves and branches, imitating the look of moonlight.

Silhouette Lighting steers focus to a captivating shape by illuminating a vertical surface behind the object to accent that distinctive shape.

Cross Lighting uses multiple beams of light to create 360° visual interest on your landscape’s more sizable features such as large trees or statues.

Mirror Lighting creates ethereal water scenes by strategically lighting background areas around bodies of water that reflect the landscape off the water.

Shadowing projects the look of a tree or yard art onto a surface behind it.

In-Grade Lighting disperses light to permanent and semi-permanent installations like walls, flagpoles, large trees, and sidewalks.

Landscape Lighting Terms

Before fashioning your landscape with the right illumination, it’s important that you can speak the language. Being fluorescently fluent is worth the effort as it could simplify light shopping and bypass the added hassle of frequent returns. 

AMPERE - Commonly known as amps, an ampere (A) determines the rate of an electrical current. 

BEAM SPREAD - Also known as the beam angle, a beam spread measures the entire span of emitted light, or width of the beam, from a reflectorized light source. Knowing the beam spread is essential when deciding how much light you want displayed on an object or area. 

CRI - A light’s CRI, or Color Rendering Index, is a measurement of how the light source displays object colors “naturally” when compared to a familiar point of reference, such as daylight or an incandescent light. A CRI of 80 is frequently regarded as the baseline CRI level for LED and fluorescent lamps.

IP RATING - Somtimes called an IP code, the IP rating classifies the degree of protection supplied by a bulb’s enclosure. This standard outlines levels of sealing effectiveness against ingress from water, dirt, and debris that can pose a threat to the bulb’s performance. 

KELVIN - A kelvin (K) is the SI unit of thermodynamic temperature. Engineers and scientists use the kelvin scale when referring to lights because kelvins are directly related to kinetic energy and volume. 

LED - Abbreviated from light-emitting diode, an LED is a semiconductor light source that releases light when current flows through it. LED lighting products produce light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent light sources.  

LUMEN - The SI unit of luminous flux, a lumen (lm) equals the amount of light emitted per second. One lumen releases about the same amount of light as one birthday candle that’s one foot away from you. 

VAC - North American appliances use 120 VAC–or Volts Alternating Current–to deliver electricity, meaning the electric current alternates from 0 volts to 120 volts back to 0 volts before falling to negative 120 volts and back to 0 volts.    

VOLTAGE - Voltage, also called electromotive force, measures the energy of the potential difference in charge between two points in an electrical field. Its unit of measurement is the volt (V). 

WATT - A watt reports the rate of power flow. When one amp flows through an electrical difference of one volt, its result is relayed in terms of watts (W).  

Landscape Lighting Types 

Landscape lighting illuminates every occasion and invites people into your home by highlighting walkways, architectural elements, gathering spaces, water features, and more. In their own unique right, these five classic lighting styles are comforting, welcoming, and a reflection of your style.

Accent Lights shine light upward to illuminate an object or surface for dramatic, eye-grabbing visuals.

Deck and Hardscape Lights accentuate all of the beauty and details of decks, outdoor kitchens, patios, handrails, retaining walls, steps, stone features, and benches. 

Flood Lights, like the name suggests, come in handy when you need to flood an area with light. LED flood lights are ultra-energy efficient and have a higher lumen output per watt output than any other standard lighting system.

Path Lights increase safety for the hard-to-see features of your landscape such as sidewalks, stone pathways, and lawn walkways while adding undertones of intrigue to boulders, plant beds, and patio perimeters. 

Wall Wash Lights deliver a subtle, low amount of light to a wide area, up close to the structure, with minimal hotspots and density.

Well Lights are circular fixtures used to illuminate walkways, driveways, fountains, flowerbeds, and trees in an elegant manner. They’re installed directly into the ground to direct attention to the light effect rather than the fixture itself.

Now that you’ve nailed down the basics, you can confidently uncover ways to incorporate these styles and techniques into your own landscape design. It’s time for your yard to look as gaze-catching at night as it does during the day. 

As your Gurus of Glow, we know which gardens, trees, and hardscape elements to highlight, and which of our top-quality light features are best suited for the job. If you run into a snag or need further explanation about any of the above topics, the experts at Lighting Warehouse are ready and willing to address any of your lighting concerns.