The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Shadow Lighting with Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Lighting plays a key role when designing your landscape effects. We understand that and illuminating certain elements of your landscape can truly make it pop. Not only do you want to see your house from the street, but you want to walk from your car to your entrance without tripping along the way. It's crucial to light your outdoor living spaces so you can use them at night. these are a great use for light.

But let's consider ways in which light can be used in an indirect way, through the use of shadows. Shadows are often forgotten. Unless you want to shine spotlights on your whole property, there will be shadows. You won't be able to avoid them. You shouldn't want to. Since shadows are not preventable, including them in your design provides an opportunity to enhance your landscape in unique ways. 

Shadows are also known as silhouette lighting may be used in many ways to accompany the light you project with your outdoor fixtures. The creative use of lights and shadows can create dramatic effects together that are not possible during the daytime. Utilizing experts with significant experience in lighting design can make quite a difference in this area.    

Casting light is one thing, but keeping in mind how shadows influence the outcome and enhance the impact through effective shadowing is another. Using shadows is an art which can make a huge difference in your overall landscape lighting result. When working with Landscape Lighting Pro, you get the benefit of over 20 years of experience and hundreds of lighting projects to maximize the use of lights, and shadows, to create your unique look. That's hard to find. Below are some techniques to consider when including shadows in your landscape lighting design. 

Use of Casting Shadows 

Casting shadows purposefully onto a background is a dramatic way that shadows can be used. To make this work, one needs a backdrop. Using the side of your house or a large wall would work perfectly. This method, called shadowing, creates a silhouette on your backdrop wall. 

Shadowing is commonly used to highlight fascinating profiles of trees or sculptures. To achieve this a spotlight is pointed directly at a feature creating a shadow on the background opposite from the object. The combination of lighting the desired object and creating the shadow on the backdrop adds more interest to this effect. Using this technique with trees in particular will allow the subtle movement of the leaves and swaying of branches to add motion to the shadows. 

shadow-landscape-lightingTo achieve the most brilliant effect it is important to avoid placing any additional lighting fixtures between the object and the backdrop. This can result in diminishing the crispness and texture of the desired shadow. 

Shadow Art with Unique Fixtures

While one can use a variety of features as part of your landscape lighting to create a dramatic effect of light and shadows in your yard, you can also use shadow art fixtures to create unique effects as well. As the name implies, shadow art fixtures are specifically designed to create are with shadows. By utilizing a variety of light sources placed in uniquely designed covers, shadow art fixtures create unique shadows as the light is emitted from the cover. When used effectively, small fixtures can deliver a bigger effect than expected. 

Using bollard lighting is another great way to introduce shadow lighting art. Placing a light inside of the bollard, then placing the bollard in an open space can give off a giant shadow across the ground. Want to learn more about bollard lighting? (click here)


Mimicking Natural Shadows 

Have you ever noticed how in bright sunshine, or at night with a bright moon, the beautiful patterns and shadows are created from the leaves and branches? These naturally created shadows deliver a special effect that only Mother Nature could create. 

Unfortunately, these natural shadows disappear at night if the moon isn't present. However, with some properly placed accent lighting, these effects can be recreated. The key method to create the filtered effect of the natural light flowing through your trees is to use downlights. To properly use downlights, they need to be placed very high up, either in or above your trees. 


Downlighting is used by obscuring the light passing through the trees, creating a natural pattern of shadows. After all, the object of this outdoor lighting technique is not to recreate the daytime, but to light up the night in a complimentary way. 

Shadows on Hardscaping

Hardscaping is a term applied to common landscaping features such as stone walls, fireplaces, stairs, walkways, paved areas, and even driveways. In some situations, you may want to lessen shadows as much as possible to better define the hardscape. 

This is mostly true for areas where you may want to spend time or provide enough lighting to ensure safety. A driveway or walkway might require lighting with almost no shadows. Areas where you plan to spend a lot of time, such as pergolas, can use shadows to their advantage. For large structures, like pergolas, consider using a directed downlight to create a geometric shadow on the ground. You can use shadow patterns to enhance your design, rather than eliminating them. 

The use of shadows in highlighting textures on walls, fireplaces, and other textures surfaces is a technique called grazing. The light is directed upward or downward near the wall. Light at that angle creates a sharp contrast between varying textures of the surface. It highlights ridges and puts a deep Shadow above or beneath them, depending on the light source. 

As we've shared, shadows are a very big consideration of landscape lighting. Strategically using techniques to accent your landscape through the use of shadows can create a more interesting a desirable effect 

Need help with your outdoor lighting project?

If you are looking for a professional to help with your outdoor lighting design and 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 nearly 20 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.