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10 Inspiring Ways You Can Use Outdoor Lighting


Outdoor spaces can be difficult to plan and light appropriately. To truly enjoy these spaces and make them safe for visitors, a few inexpensive rolls of lights and a little electrical know-how can go a long way.

Residential lighting has been our business for years, so we know exactly how  the right lighting can turn a plain yard into an enchanted forest full of beauty and imagination. Check out these ten ways to add some magic to your outdoor space!

Use Ground Lighting for Patios & Pathways

Using ground lighting to brighten up pathways is both functional flattering, adding instant class to outdoor areas. Making sure your ground lights are safely and skillfully integrated into the landscape is the key to pulling this project off, so it’s best to get an electrician’s help. We’ll be able to make sure your lights are waterproof, provide recommendations on lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs to save you money, and set up your new lights for optimal proximity.

Pro: a sophisticated and practical way to light up places with regular foot traffic in low-light conditions.

Con: outdoor lighting can be overdone or leave blind spots when installed incorrectly, so it’s best to get some professional help if you want to make sure your ground lights are placed properly.

Uplight Foliage and Flowers

Uplighting trees can add majesty and just the right amount of mystery to any outdoor space. You can either purchase solar powered lights or connect them all with extension cords, although you’ll have to make sure you use cords rated for outdoor use and waterproof them properly if you choose this option. This design should work for anyone wanting to add more drama to their outdoor space.

Pro: this is a simple way to make the trees and other tall plants in your yard more visible and dramatic—especially at night.

Con: the more lights you have, the more power they’ll need. Solar-powered outdoor lights are more expensive, and you’ll have to place them in areas that get enough sunlight throughout the day. Running extension cords to multiple lights outdoors may also require you to upgrade your electrical panel.

Customizable String Lights

outdoor party string lights hanging on a line in backyard with copy space

String lights are an enchanting and versatile addition to any outdoor space—they create an inviting ambience that transforms gardens, patios, and decks into magical nighttime retreats. With their warm glow, customizable lengths, and a myriad of styles to choose from, string lights provide endless creative possibilities for personalized outdoor lighting designs.

However, it’s crucial to hire a professional electrician for your project to make sure your string lights are installed safely and efficiently. Our team can securely connect and arrange your string lights, avoiding hazards like overloaded circuits and improper grounding so you can enjoy a beautifully illuminated outdoor area that exudes charm and elegance.

Pro: string lights come in a huge variety of different styles and can be customized for areas of practically any length.

Con: installing string lights should be done with the help of professional electricians to ensure they do not overload your home’s electrical panel.

Downlight Walkways and Arbors

Use spotlights at the very top of a walkway or arbor and make it point down to the ground to emphasize pathways or other outdoor features. Downlighting looks really natural because it reminds people of the way the sun or moon shines on objects from above.

Pro: This project is often quite inexpensive, since all it requires is a few lamps suitable for use outdoors.

Con: although a single spotlight shouldn’t strain your electrical system too much, hanging the power cords for overhead spotlights can be a bit of a challenge, and you’ll need to make sure they’re rated for outdoor use as well. If you aren’t sure whether your cords and lamps are suitable, you can always call for help—our team can recommend appropriate products and even perform the installation for you to make sure it’s done correctly.

DIY Glowing Steps

This ingenious way to light up pathways will surely be a hit with friends and family. It’s an easy-ish DIY project, too—just place lights under thick glass panels (that won’t break when stepped on) and dig indentations in the ground to place them in. Using different colours to light up your steps lets you make beautiful and creative custom walkways for your property.

Pro: this is a beautiful and exciting way to light your pathway.

Con: installing outdoor wiring and running it underground to power your lights can be a challenge. Outdoor electrical wires need to be installed far enough below ground that you won’t accidentally damage them with rakes or shovels, and keep them out of gardens or other areas where people routinely dig. It’s best to get professional help for a job like this.

Use Gentle Lighting to Add Ambience to Outdoor Balconies

A cozy seating area on the balcony with a comfortable chair, table and candles.

Softer and smaller lights rated for outdoor use are the perfect way to brighten up dark corners of decks and patios without sacrificing their natural intimacy. Adding string lights and other decor items, like sheer curtains and comfy chairs, can totally reshape what’s often considered a throw-away space.

Pro: this type of lighting lends the space a certain ambiance that can be easily dressed up or down as you see fit. Most string lights are also low-voltage, meaning you should be able to plug them in without straining your home’s electrical capacity.

Con: hanging up these lights can be tricky. Make sure to use a ladder instead of standing on tables or chairs, and get help if you don’t feel confident doing this yourself.

Swap Fairy Lights for Water

This is another option that lends a little whimsy to an outdoor space. Hang up a watering can or bowl, but use fairy lights to create a “waterfall” of light. Arrange the can to look like it’s tipping over and “watering” the light onto flowers or another patch of foliage.

Pro: this is a simple and beautiful lighting addition to a backyard or garden space.

Con: while it’s an innovative decoration, this project likely won’t be bright enough to add functional lighting to dark outdoor spaces that don’t have other light sources.

Rope Lights

Use rope lights to spell out illuminated words in darker spaces. This design draws attention to specific outdoor surfaces, and you can spell out any word that fits within the length of rope you purchased.

Pro: spelling out words with your lighting is a great way to name specific outdoor areas or set a deliberate mood.

Con: you’ll need a relatively flat space to attach your rope lights with nails or hooks, so this one is pretty limited to areas near exterior walls.

In-Step Deck Lighting

Wooden deck and patio of family home at night.

This is an innovative way to light up the stairs to your deck without creating shadows or taking up space in areas where people normally walk or stand. By seamlessly building lights into the steps themselves, you’ll be able to highlight the area’s architecture without being gaudy—plus, your guests will be a lot less likely to trip!

Pro: a tasteful and practical way to make your deck more accessible at night while also highlighting its shape and style.

Con: this isn’t a DIY job—you’ll want an electrician to make sure the wiring is done correctly and to ensure your in-step lighting is protected from the elements. We’ll also hook it up to your home’s electrical panel so you can control it properly from a switch or device.

Highlight a Romantic Sitting Space

candles hanging from an oak light up the garden at night for party

Use either tree branches or a landscaping pole to hang lights over an outdoor picnic or sitting space. The spotlight over the area will cast a gentle glow so that guests can see their food or each other while conversing.

Pro: the gentle light provided by this project is perfect for an intimate gathering and conversation.

Con: this decor idea is easier to do for special occasions by using battery-powered lights or small candles—since connecting these lights to a permanent power source can be difficult.

How 4-Star Electric Can Help You Add Safe & Reliable Outdoor Lighting

Before adding new lighting inside or outside your home, you’ll need to make sure your electrical panel can handle the extra load. You should also reach out to professionals any time you’re adding an electrical fixture that requires underground wiring or additional electrical outlets to be installed on the exterior of your home.

Our team can advise you about where to place certain fixtures so as not to overload your electrical panel. We can also add underground wiring and install additional outlets to improve your outdoor access to electricity. Reach out to us for a consultation today and let one of our experienced professional electricians help.

Written by 4-Star Electric

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