The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

The 3 Best Wash Lighting Techniques to Create a Beautiful Outdoor Lighting Experience

Wash lighting is what brings your landscape all together after dark. Many lighting designers have found that wash lighting is the secret ingredient to set the stage for true ambiance. Indirect lighting, which is created by applying different wash lighting techniques, transforms the dark and ominous backdrop into something friendly and familiar. When done correctly, wash lighting has a way of blending in the backdrop without obscuring it.  


Think of wash lighting as a way to create more visual appeal, not necessarily a brighter landscape. Here are 3 wash lighting techniques we hope you will find helpful when planning your landscape lighting for your home.  

1. Architectural Wash Lighting:

To use architectural wash lighting means to use lighting on walls, pillars and other aspects of the homes architectural components. Using low angle in-grade light fixtures to enhance your homes walls, for example, can highlight texture and add depth to the architectural features that you may discover you didn't even know or realize were there. It's more important to consider how, depending on wall height and the desired effect, lamps can be selected for their beam spread and brightness to create the best fit. LED lamp selections can vary in degrees of angle; from a narrow 15 to 30 degree, to a wider 60 degree; there are even 120 degree beam spread lamps. LED lamp wattage also can vary to create a softer to more intense lumen output. We would advise you to be careful when making your lamp selections, so you do not inadvertently create distraction from the balance that is being achieved throughout your landscape.


2. Shrub and Japanese Maple Wash Lighting:

The best way to create composition, balance and interesting symmetry, is by utilizing the little things. Softly washing hedges or a lower level Japanese Maple with a wide and soft lamp selection will carry the eye from one feature to the next. Transitional lighting that focuses on the little details will showcase key elements of a landscape and complete the lighting design. Think of it this way; when lighting a waterfall on a pond, often, it can be a benefit to have a light aimed directly at the waterfall and yet, to heighten the effect we will often have a secondary light that offers a soft flood that softens the rocks or landscape around the edge. Rather than only focus light on a center piece, we also softly light the surrounding area to compliment the center piece. This approach completes the objective while also creating a much more visually appealing feature. Less really can say more.


3. Wash with Down Lighting:

This is the technique of mounting concealed fixtures from an established or mature tree if available, to create the washing effect of moonlighting. Though many lighting veterans use this technique to wash ground covers, flagstone pathways and water features, this is still one of the most overlooked approaches to lighting. Washing with down lighting, I'll argue, is the best way to create a sophisticated, soft, ambient light effect that captures without distracting the eye.


Give Us a Call:

To learn more about how to light your outdoor living space, call us at (801) 440-7647 to schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form.

Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis and Utah Counties. Our outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects throughout Utah and beyond.

Free Landscape Lighting Design Guide