During the summer, the days pass along languidly and the warm sunny evenings are perfect for brainstorming backyard lighting ideas for your outdoor area. The sun doesn’t set until 8 p.m., and the al fresco celebrations last well beyond that. With the right backyard lighting, the conversations can keep flowing, the music can keep playing, and you can keep dancing all evening long.
For those of us who treat hosting like a second job, just think of the amazing outdoor dining setups you could create! From tiki torches to pathway lights, get ready to see your outdoor space in an entirely new way. Even if you don’t have a ton of space—or an elaborate setup with a pergola—you can add a bit of class and charm to your patio.
What light is best for a backyard?
A well-lit backyard features layered lighting that’s strategically placed for ambiance and safety. Tricks like illuminating walkways and focal points accomplish both simultaneously, while clever DIYs like glowing orbs bring a dynamic design element to your landscape. Firepits and outdoor candles can even provide organic light without any electricity at all. The fewer light bulbs to replace the better, right?
According to Caroline Danielson, the director of showrooms at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, it’s also critical to consider light pollution when lighting your backyard. She cites information from the International Dark-Sky Association, a nonprofit that advocates for decreased use of excessive artificial light because it can disrupt ecosystems and wildlife and can cause harm to human health. Luckily, fixtures labeled “dark sky” and “good neighbor” can illuminate your backyard with limited light pollution. Your lighting system affects all the living things around you too.
“Using warmer lights and minimizing blue light emissions can help reduce the impact of your light pollution, as blue light brightens the night sky more than any other color of light,” Danielson explains. “Motion detector lights and timers are ideal dark-sky lighting solutions, as these lights only come on as needed. It’s also important that you shield outdoor fixtures so that the light shines exactly where it needs to: downward.”
Motion detectors and timers help conserve electricity too, as do renewable solar-powered lights. Sheva Knopfler, cofounder and creative director of Lights.com, recommends Harlow solar path lights that charge in the sun and automatically turn on after dark, so you don’t have to remember to flip a switch. Solar lights can brighten your outdoor living space without making you feel like it’s just another burden on your electricity bill at the end of the month.
With all of this in mind, we came up with nine outdoor lighting ideas that make the most of your backyard and help you create a stunning lighting design.
For safe backyard lighting ideas, invest in path lighting that will give off a soft glow and help people navigate routes in the dark. Knopfler’s favorite contemporary solar brick lights efficiently illuminate walkways and look aesthetically pleasing while doing it. “They’re easy to install and require no hardwiring,” she says. “Simply place them along the path, in dirt, or between tiles.”