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The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Landscape Lighting for Ponds and Water Features

waterfall-and_water-feature-pathway-patio-lighting-salt-lake-cityJust when you thought water features couldn’t get any more magical, you see one with professional lighting, at night.


Waterfalls sparkle. Fountains become dramatic focal points. Pond surfaces glimmer and the lights beneath the surface reflect off fish as they swim past.

Light your water feature, and you can extend your enjoyment of it long past sunset.

But there’s a lot more to creating this magic than aiming a floodlight at the water.

Lighting water features is one of the most challenging kinds of lighting. There are all kinds of factors to consider, from positioning the fixtures to minimizing glare to hiding cables and junction boxes.

Let’s take a look at how professional lighting can transform a water feature.

Landscape Lighting For Fountains

water-feature-fountain-statuary-wash-light-draper-utahFountains are probably the smallest of the water features, but they come with their own unique challenges.

We recently designed lighting for a statuary fountain with a dramatic lion head and basin design.

It wasn’t a huge fountain, but one light alone wouldn’t create the effect we wanted.

We aimed one light at the statuary with a narrow, 10-degree beam spread from about 20 feet away. It hit the fountain with a dramatic, laser beam effect.

We installed a second light with a wider, 60-degree beam spread that provided a nice, soft floodlight effect.

Just one fountain, but it took two different light sources. The punch of the laser beam combined with a subtle wash of light to soften the edges gave this water feature a dramatic and romantic feel.

Landscape Lighting For Ponds

pondPonds are beautiful during the day, with sunlight catching the subtle sparkle of darting fish and lilies floating lazily in the breeze, but once the sun sets, they disappear.

Unless you light them. Then they take on a completely different look.

A variety of lighting techniques can bring out the best features of a pond. First, we look at what Mother Nature has to offer us.

If mature trees surround the pond, we install lights in the branches overhead to mimic a natural moonlighting effect. This creates intriguing shadows from branches and leaves onto the pond — we install the fixtures within the tree canopy to get the best shadowing effect.

This kind of downlighting can show off not just the pond, but also the landscape around it.

If ornamental trees or statues surround the pond, uplighting them can create a mirror effect on the water, highlighting their reflection in the pond.

Lighting paths around the pond defines the pond edges and creates nice reflections in the water.

Submersible lights tucked under water or bullet lights installed at the edges can catch the color and glimmer of fish swimming past.

Landscape Lighting For Waterfalls

water-fall-feature-and-pond-lighting-salt-lake-city-utahYou might think a big waterfall needs one big punch of light. But if that’s all you do, you just have a brightly lit “hot spot” in the landscape. It’s important to softly light the surrounding rocks and landscape, too, so the waterfall is part of the entire scene.

Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah installed the lighting for the largest residential waterfall in Utah. We used 12 lights in the water and 20 lights around the surrounding rocks.

Each light had its own distinct purpose. Some had a wider beam spread to offer a soft, diffused wash of light.

Some had a narrow beam spread, so the light traveled far enough to reach the tallest part of the waterfall.

Some lights highlighted the surrounding trees and landscape.

We might light a waterfall from underneath, so the light dances off the water. A wash light from the edge of the pond or from a tall tree nearby creates a soft flood of light.

Aiming light where the water hits the surface of the water catches the air bubbles, and highlights the movement.

Underwater fixtures project light up through the moving water to create drama. The water catches the light and carries it in different directions.

Subtle underwater lighting gives a waterfall a magical glow. Uplighting behind the water works well for graduated waterfalls with different levels.

Tricks Of The Trade


An expert lighting designer has the skill and expertise to bring out the magical qualities of water at night.

What do we know that makes the difference?

• We make sure you see the beauty of the water feature — not the wires and fixtures that provide the light. We often have to disassemble and then reassemble portions of the water feature to camouflage the lighting components.

• We know the dark crevices behind waterfalls and beneath the pond surface soak up light, and we figure the calculations necessary to compensate.

When submersing lights underwater, we factor in extra wattage, depending on how deep we place the light, the clarity of the water and the color of the stone around the light. For every four inches of water, you lose about 10 percent of your light output.

• Positioning is important. Lighting water features means getting down and dirty in the water. Our team members carry waders in their trucks. They know they might be swimming.

• When it comes to fixture materials for water features, there’s one word: Brass, brass, brass. It stands up to the rigors of water. I’ve had brass fixtures beneath the surface of my pond at home for seven years, and they still work great.

• We make certain that the lighting fixtures and transformers used are rated for use in and around water, to avoid any danger of electrocution.

Don’t Forget Landscape Lighting Maintenance

Over time, plants grow and cover lights. Lenses get cloudy from calcium buildup. Mowers and garden tools cut cords.

Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah’s annual landscape lighting service agreement offers you the peace of mind that your system is being cared for by the same people who designed it.

A lighting professional will visit your property once a year to readjust and clean fixtures; trim and maintain surrounding turf and plant life to ensure proper light beam spread; rebury exposed wire as needed; inspect transformers and reset any timers and controls, if necessary.

Give Us A Call

If you decide your water features needs artistic, professional lighting, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call at (801) 440-7647 to schedule a free consultation, or fill out our simple contact form.

Located in Sandy, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves customers throughout Utah’s residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper and Holladay. Our outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects from Salt Lake County and Utah County, to Davis County and Summit County — and beyond.

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