The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

How to Strategically Plan your Landscape Lighting System

 When creating a plan for a landscape lighting system, there are many ways to ensure you are getting exactly what is needed and wanted. It is important to go in with a clear plan of goals and execution. The best way to make sure you create the light you are looking for is to make a priority list for you and the system.

Decide if your goal is to add functionality, ambiance, or highlight a particular area of your property. Creating this priority list for your lighting system helps to keep that composition and balance that is desired from any landscape lighting project. 

Here are a few topics and techniques to focus on to help you strategically plan your landscape lighting system!



Beautification of a property is the idea that you are looking to boost your curb appeal by incorporating landscape lighting. This can be done through a combination of many lighting techniques or one technique that illuminates a certain area of the property. You could simply want to light a beautiful waterfall or pond to enjoy it after the sun goes down, or you could want to light the entire property to showcase all the different elements your property offers. 

In order to achieve either one of these goals, it is a good idea to walk your property and decide what elements you are really wanting to highlight. Choose which pieces are most important to you to beautify through lighting and then work around that to find the best light techniques for that space or element. 

Task lighting 


Task lighting is extremely important for any lighting project where the goal is to bring safety to the property or make the home feel a little more inviting. What is task lighting? Task lighting is a lighting technique used to illuminate areas such as stairs, paths, or an outdoor kitchen. These fixtures are designed to help us see the task we are performing and help us complete it safely and exactly how we intended. 

Here are a few lighting techniques for task lighting! 

  • Path lights: Path lights are made to illuminate all different types of paths. They are designed with a little “hat” that pushes the light down toward the ground. Whether that is a walk to the front door, a rock path to the backyard, or even a path out to the outdoor living space, path lights work extremely well at providing that much needed task lighting.

    These lights can also be used to bring light to certain outdoor steps. They work very well with rock stair cases and ones going through landscape. These types of stair cases provide a spot for the path light to sit that allows it to cast light down onto the steps.

    Path lighting as a whole provides that safety for both you and guests because you are able to see exactly where you are going. They also allow those guests who are visiting for the first time know exactly how to get to the entrances because the path to and from are well lit!

  • Tread lights: A tread light is a fixture that is designed to illuminate steps from the vertical face of the step. It is installed directly into the vertical face of the step, casting a soft light onto the step to help guide you and your guests down safely. Since the tread light is installed directly into the step itself, the fixture is barely noticeable during daylight hours!

    This lighting technique can be extremely tricky and is best to involve a lighting professional to ensure you get the best, most effective light and installation for your steps. Learn more about hiring a landscape lighting professional by downloading our hiring guide.

  • Grill light: If you have an outdoor kitchen, adding a grill light can help ensure each meal that is prepared on the grill turns out perfectly! The grill light is a flexible, stainless steel light that casts a light directly over the grill. This allows you to cook your meal exactly to your liking no matter the time of evening. It can be installed directly into any counter top next to the grill. The flexible head can be directed to exactly where you need it at any time to light your cooking space. 

Functional lighting 


Functional lighting is what makes our outdoor spaces useable after dark. If you have a dining area, an outdoor living room, or sitting area and your lighting project goal is to be able to use them after dark, functional lighting is what you need!

Here are some of the best techniques if your project’s goal is to bring function to your outdoor spaces:

  • Bistros: Bistros are an extremely popular way to add a festive atmosphere to a space. Hung up in the beams of the pergola or attached directly to the home itself, bistros (or string lights) bring function to every place they are installed! Whether you are looking to dine, read, or relax with friends, bistros are such a relaxing and perfect functional lighting option. 

  • Recessed lights: Recessed lighting is an option that can be used with a steel pergola. A precise hole is drilled directly into the beam and then the fixture is seamlessly installed into the beam. These lights cast a soft and subtle glow over the entire space to create that functionality. With this type of lighting technique, hiring a lighting professional is a good idea because of intricateness of the technique. 

  • Down lights: Down lights are perfect for adding function to a space that is close to an architectural piece or has large trees nearby. Down lights can be attached to the eves of the home or high up in the surrounding large trees to cast a light down over the space. This lighting technique creates a moonlight feel to the space, making the area illuminated in a very natural way. It also can cast shadows from the trees branches and leaves to create a beautiful moonlit feel. 



If your overall goal is to add ambiance to your outdoor space or property, you will find that a combination of all the different lit aspects will provide that. When each element is lit in a harmonious way, it creates that balance and composition that will in turn provide the ambiance desired. The different shadows and depths of light create a whole new feel to the space after dark. 

It takes a well-trained eye to know exactly how a lighting project will look after dark. In order to ensure you are getting exactly what you are looking for from your outdoor lighting project, it might be a good idea to involve a landscape lighting designer to help bring your ideas to life. Not everyone can see the vision during the daylight and make a plan that is beautiful after dark. Fill out a consultation form here to meet with one of our lighting designers if you are in need of help in your lighting venture! 

Are you looking for a professional lighting design? 

If you are looking for a professional to help with your landscape lighting installation, request a consultation here! Let our designers create not only a functional property, but one that highlights the beauty of your home even at night. 

At Landscape Lighting Pro, the art of outdoor illumination is a real passion we work to perfect. Designing elegantly bespoke landscape lighting systems is simply all we do. For over 15 years, our award winning team of designers and craftsmen have striven to bring the best outdoor lighting experience possible to people's homes and businesses across the Wasatch Front & beyond. 

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