The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Make Your Outdoor Patio Complete with Top 5 Patio Lighting Techniques

During the warmer months, our outdoor patio space becomes an extension of our living room. This is why so many of us look for creative ways to extend that enjoyment into the evening with outdoor lighting. In this post, we discuss our 5 favorite patio lighting techniques.

Lighting Approaches

Bistro Lighting

There are several different names for this kind of lighting technique: bistro lights, string lights, cafe lights, etc. No matter what you choose to call them, they're an effective lighting technique for creating a festive atmosphere for you and your guests. 

These lights can be suspended over a patio or inside a pavilion or pergola. They effectively create a soft ambient light that doubles as a highly functional light source. Bistro lighting can be a great solution if task lighting for a patio space is important. 

Lighting Designer Tip: Use some kind of dimming control for your bistro lighting. The ability to dim your lights enables you to adjust your lights depending on the kind of atmosphere you'd like to create. You can turn the volume up for entertaining guests, or dim the lights down for a quite romantic evening just for two.


Down Lights

Another popular solution for lighting the patio is a technique called down lighting. Also refereed to as moon lighting, down lighting is a lighting effect created by placing a fixture in an elevated location where it can cast a gentle wash of light over the ground or objects below. This lighting approach is used to replicate the beauty of moonlight.

While a down light can be architecturally mounted to a home, the most realistic moon lighting effects are simulated when the fixture can be mounted up high in a tree. As you can see in the image below, the shadows from the dappling of the leaves creates something truly magical. 


Under Cap Lights

Does your patio space have a firepit or sitting wall? Many outdoor patios are beautifully hardscaped with fireplaces, water features, sitting walls, etc. There are many ways these features can be lit be enhance the way you enjoy your patio. For example, an under cap light can be placed into a sitting wall to define where the bench is, illuminate the wall, and cast light onto the patio or path below. Undercap lights are popular around fire pits because they reveal the patio and seating space without distracting from the fire itself. 


Outdoor Kitchens and Amenities

Have an outdoor kitchen or other outdoor structure where friends and family congregate? Having a putting green in the backyard? These areas are well worth lighting if you have them. You may even find yourself using them more often than you did before now that they can be used in the evening. During the summer months, the cooler night air can be a welcome relief that draws us out of the house. Not to mention, many of us barbecue when we entertain. Seeing how the meat is cooking on the grill can make all the difference in how dinner turns out. No one wants to under or over cook dinner by accident.


Light for Ambiance

Even soft indirect lighting can make a statement. Ambient light is about seeing the lighting effect and not the light source. Soft, warmly toned lighting levels ought to be our goal. This is created by illuminating the trees, shrubs, rock work, and other landscape features in and around your property.

Lighting the landscape features around our patio spaces can truly transform the dark and foreign into something friendly and familiar. The key to helping us feel at ease, at home, is to give ourselves greater visual control of our surroundings.

When your sitting out on the patio at night, and your landscape is void of any ominous dark areas, you instinctively feel at ease knowing their is nothing happening outside your field of vision. 

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We want ambiance and atmosphere. Not the glaring coach light by the back sliding glass door. While we want our patio to be beautifully lit, it can also be one of the most difficult places to come up with a bespoke lighting solution for. Its our sincere hope that this post can help inspire your upcoming lighting project.

Landscape Lighting Makes All the Difference

At Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah, 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 and beyond.

If you have an upcoming project you’d like help with, call us at (801)440-7647 for more information, schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form on our website,

Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah installs, maintains, and repairs lighting systems throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis & Utah Counties.


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