The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Pond Lighting Trends for Beautiful Effects: Do's & Don'ts

Ponds and water features do a lot for the tranquility and beauty of your landscape and outdoor living space. It only makes sense to light them and extend that enjoyment into the evening hours.  You want the lighting for your pond to look sophisticated and tasteful, not overstated & washed out. This is why so many people turn to the beauty created by low voltage landscape lighting systems. To create a timeless look, here are some pond lighting design concepts that can help make your pond magical. 

 Pond Lighting Do's

  1. Underwater Features

Underwater fixtures as their name suggests, can be placed underwater without suffering any water damage. These fixtures offer an advantage because they can be placed in ideal locations other fixtures can't go. Water-feature-and-pond-lighting-Utah-2This includes splash zones. The base of a waterfall is a great example of where one of these fixtures could be situated. By placing a light at the very base of a waterfall, it captures all the cascading, rippling effects. Tossing shadows os water reflection and movement creates the illusion of a flickering flame.  

Always be selective when choosing an underwater fixture. While many of these fixtures are designed with underwater use in mind, not all of them are up to the task. Water has a funny way of finding its way into fixtures. We've replaced plenty of low quality underwater fixtures that ended up completely filled with water. Always choose the higher quality underwater fixture when presented with the option. Even the best built underwater fixtures have been known to take on water from time to time. 

  1. Accenting Ornamental Trees and / or Key Features

Do you have a beautiful Japanese Maple, Weeping Cherry, or other ornamental tree in close proximity to your pond? If so, lighting it the right way will enhance your water feature! Lighting key features outside of or around the pond is just as important as lighting the pond itself. If there is statues or tall vegetation, these can also serve as beautiful backdrop pieces to the overall scene.

  1. Moon Lighting

When we say moon lighting we are talking about a lighting technique, not a secret side business. Moon lighting is a beautiful landscape lighting style where a directional downlight is used to create an effect not unlike moonlight. Mounting a fixture in a tall tree and using it to bathe a pond in a soft pale light can add a beautiful layer of light to the overall scene. Mother Nature never lit a pond from below, only ever from above. Consider the natural beauty moon lighting brings. Experimenting with a cooler color effect of 4000-5500K can also create a more realistic moonlight effect.  

  1. Illuminate Water Bridges from Below, Not Above
With the exception of moon lighting, bridges that go over water should be lit from below. By using an underwater light under the bridge, it creates a soft glow that defines the edges of the bridge without any direct lighting. This beautiful effect reduces chances of glare while creating another interesting layer to the lighting design. 
  1. Use Pendant Lights and Ornamental Fixtures.

Adding an extra stroke of interest to an already beautiful scene, pendant lights are there to be beautiful in and of themselves. A glowing orb of air blown glass, for example, will add a bit of magic to your water feature. A star liter suspended from a low hanging tree branch is another way to add intrigue. Whatever fixture you choose, make sure YOU think it's beautiful sice you'll be the one enjoying it each night. 


Pond Lighting Don'ts 

  1. Don't submerge Fixtures That Aren't Meant to be Underwater

This should be obvious, but it still needs to be said. Do not put a fixture in water that isn't designed to be there. Don't even put a fixture in a splash zone if it isn't waterproof. It will damage the fixture, the lamp and the electrical components. Use only underwater lights in places where the fixture will need to be in constant contact with water.  

  1.  Don't use a Pathway or Area Light Around Your Pond

These fixtures are often misused and abused. We advise only using them for their intended purpose: lighting a pathway. When a path light is used around a pond it creates a lot of glare reflected  off the water's surface. Undesirable and distracting, glare should be avoided wherever possible. Consider your viewing angles to eliminate glare. Placing a path light near the edge or around perimeter, of a pod will create more of a distraction than an enhancement. 

  1. Don't Place Underwater Lights In a Murky Pond

While underwater lights create beautiful effects, these effects only look beautiful when the water is clear. Murky water obscures these lights and keeps them from performing their intended purpose. 

  1.  Use Directional Spot Lights in Place of Underwater Lights Where Possible

Not all your lights have to be underwater lights, You can still create beautiful effects with other lights installed outside of the pond. Directional up lights located outside the pond can create beautiful lighting effects to capture rockwork, plant life, etc. Underwater lights should only be used to capture aspects of the pond in places where other lights would get wet. 

  1. Don't Forget About Your Viewing Angles

Always be thinking about your viewing angles, where you will be located most often when you are viewing your pond at night. This will usually be the back patio or other area for lounging, dining, etc. Always consider your viewing angles so that your fixtures can be placed between your viewing area and the object being illuminated. Doing this reduces glare and the chances of the lights not looking quite right. When in doubt on placement, think about your viewing angles.


It's Supposed to be FUN!!! 

Lighting your pond should be a fun experience. Take your time to come up with a game plan and experiment. Go out at night with your flashlight and consider how things will look when you shine a light on them from different angles. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, or need help coming up with some ideas, it’s always advisable to consult with your local landscape lighting designer. They know the ins and outs when it comes to lighting an outdoor space and can help advice you.


To learn more about how to light your pond or outdoor living space, call us at (801)440-7647 to 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 serves throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis & Utah Counties. Our outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects throughout Utah and beyond.

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