5 Do’s And Don’ts Of Landscape Lighting

Last Updated on April 19, 2022 by Kimberly Crawford

Installing landscape lighting is one of the best ways to show off your home’s best features and enhance its curb appeal. It can add beauty and sophistication, leading to increased home value. Plus, it provides much-needed illumination for your outdoor living areas, making them safer and more enjoyable to use after dark.

However, inappropriately designed or installed landscape lighting can be an eyesore. As with any home improvement project, there are certain dos and don’ts to follow to achieve the best results. To help you get started, read on to explore the five essential do’s and don’ts of landscape lighting design and installation.

The Five Do’s

outdoor dinner table with lighting

Here are the five things you should do when installing landscape lighting:

1. Do Come Up With A Plan

Before you start buying lights and installing them willy-nilly, it’s crucial to have a plan. Decide what areas of your landscape you want to highlight and why. Do you want to accentuate the front entryway? Or perhaps create a more inviting outdoor living space while improving safety or security?

If you’re still unsure how to come up with a plan, you can try researching outdoor lighting ideas for front of house online. With this, you’ll have a better visualization of where and how you want the lights to be positioned.

Once you know your goals, you can then map out the lights’ positions. It’s helpful to use a sketch or take pictures of your property to help with this planning process. This approach will give you an idea of how many lights you need and help you stay within your budget.

2. Do Use A Variety Of Light Fixtures

As you want your landscape lighting to provide various functions and effects, it’s best to use a variety of light fixtures. It’ll add visual interest and dimension to your design while also serving its purpose. Thus, creating a balanced and well-rounded appearance in your outdoor space.

You can incorporate accent lights, path lights, floodlights, and more among the various light fixtures. And within each category, use different styles and sizes of these accessories to create a more dynamic and interesting look in your outdoor area. This is especially beneficial in your front yard since it’s the first thing visitors will see. 

3. Do Create Layers Of Light

In addition to using a variety of light fixtures, you’ll also want to create different layers of light in your landscape. That means using a combination of downlighting, uplighting, and backlighting. Here’s a quick breakdown of each:

  • Downlighting

Downlighting is achieved by placing lights at the base of trees or other features and pointing them up. This type of lighting is excellent for accentuating architectural elements, sculptures, or other objects you want to draw attention to.

  • Uplighting

As the name suggests, uplighting is the opposite of downlighting, as it involves placing lights at the top of trees or other features and pointing them down. This lighting idea is ideal for creating a soft and romantic ambiance in your outdoor space.

  • Backlighting

If you want to add some drama to your landscape, backlighting could be the way to go. Just place lights behind objects and point them towards your home. This effect is perfect for highlighting specimen plantings, water features, or other garden elements.

By layering these various types of light, you can create a truly stunning and dramatic landscape that’ll surely impress everyone who sees it.

4. Do Consider The Size And Height Of Your Lights

When selecting light fixtures for your landscape, it’s essential to consider the size of the lights. This is especially true if you’re using accent lights or path lights.

Accent lights should be small and discreet so as not to overpower the feature they’re highlighting. On the other hand, path lights should be tall enough to cast a long and wide beam of light but not so tall that they become a tripping hazard.

Additionally, installing the lights at the proper heights is crucial to get the most out of your landscape lighting. This approach will ensure that the light is cast in the right direction and doesn’t create any unwanted glare.

5. Do Use Different Light Sources

garden illumniated

When it comes to landscape lighting, you’ll want to use a variety of light sources to create the desired effect. For example, incandescent bulbs produce a warm and inviting light that’s perfect for creating a cozy ambiance. Alternatively, LED lights are more energy-efficient and can last for years with proper maintenance.

Moreover, you’ll also want to consider the color of the light. Warm white light accentuates landscape features, while cool white light is perfect for illuminating pathways and walkways. Whatever light source you choose, it’d help to test it out beforehand to see how it looks in your outdoor space.

The Five Don’ts

The details mentioned above are the do’s of landscape lighting. Now let’s take a look at some of the things you should avoid when installing landscape lighting.

1. Don’t Go Overboard

There’s no doubt that it’s tempting to go all out with your landscape lighting. Hence, you’ll want to avoid going overboard and could end up with a flashy and over-the-top display. After all, too much of anything is never a good thing.

Instead, start small and gradually add more lights as needed. You may also focus on a few well-placed lights to highlight the key features in your landscape. You can create an elegant and stylish landscape that everyone will appreciate by taking a strategic approach. Just remember to keep it simple and tasteful.

Less is more when it comes to landscape lighting. An overabundance of light fixtures can make your outdoor space appear cluttered and overwhelming. Not to mention, it can also be a waste of money.

2. Don’t Place Lights Too Close To Each Other

When installing landscape lighting, be sure to space the lights out evenly. This approach will ensure that the light is evenly distributed and looks natural. Placing the lights too close together can create a ‘pool of light’ effect that’s both unattractive and ineffective.

To avoid that scenario and make things right, it’s necessary to take measurements and mark out where the lights will go before you start installing them. This way, you can ensure that the lights are placed at the correct distance, creating a more natural ambiance.

3. Don’t Use The Wrong Bulbs

Not all light bulbs are created equally. Different bulbs emit different amounts of light, so choosing the right ones for your needs is essential. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a landscape that’s either too bright or not bright enough.

For example, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are more energy-efficient, power-wise, and, more importantly, have a longer lifespan than incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs also come in a wide range of colors, so you can choose the perfect one to complement your landscape. So, if you’re looking for an eco-friendlier option, LED bulbs might be your best option.

Furthermore, don’t overlook the wattage of the bulbs you’re using. Wattage measures the amount of power a light bulb uses, not the amount of light it emits. So be sure to choose bulbs with the appropriate wattage for your fixtures.

4. Don’t Forget About Maintenance

Landscape lighting requires regular maintenance to ensure it continues to look its best. Depending on the lighting fixtures you’re using, you’ll need to clean or replace them every few years.

In addition, you’ll also want to regularly inspect the wiring and connections. Over time, the wires can become loose or damaged, leading to safety hazards. So be sure to check these components if needed to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

5. Don’t Do It Yourself

Although it may be tempting to save money by doing it yourself, landscape lighting is best left to the professionals. Not only do they have the experience and expertise to get the job done right, but they also have the proper tools and equipment.

This task can be dangerous if you’re not familiar with electrical work. There are many factors to consider, such as underground utilities, weather conditions, and more. So, it’s always best to leave it to the experts.


Where should landscape well lights be placed?

There are a few things to consider when placing landscape well lights. First, you’ll want to think about the effect you’re trying to create. Are you looking for a dramatic spotlight effect, or a more subtle wash of light?

Once you know the effect you’re going for, you can start to place your lights. Well lights are typically placed in the ground, so you’ll need to dig a hole for each light. It’s important to make sure that the hole is large enough to accommodate the light fixture and the wire connecting it to the power source.

When placing your lights, keep in mind that you’ll need to wiring them all back to a central location.

Should landscape lights be left on all night?

The simple answer is no, landscape lights should not be left on all night. There are a few reasons for this. First, it can be a waste of energy and money to keep the lights on all night when they are not needed. Second, it can be disruptive to wildlife if the lights are left on all night. Third, it can be a safety hazard to have the lights on all night, as this can attract unwanted attention or activity.

So, what is the best way to use landscape lights? It is generally recommended that landscape lights be used only when needed, such as during evening entertaining or when security is a concern. By following these guidelines, you can save energy and money, while also helping to protect the environment and promoting safety.

How far apart should landscape lights be placed?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, such as the size and type of light fixture, the wattage of the bulb, and the desired effect. For example, solar landscape lights are typically placed about 2-3 feet apart, while low voltage lights can be placed further apart, up to 8 feet. Ultimately, it is best to experiment to see what works best for your particular landscape.


It’s no secret that landscape lighting can enhance the appearance of your home. But it’s vital to approach it strategically and mindfully. By following the guidelines here, you can avoid making common mistakes and create a great and inviting outdoor space.