The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Top 7 Lighting Ideas for your Backyard this Summer!

When the nice weather hits, outdoor living spaces become more and more utilized. The outdoor kitchen is being used, the pool is open, and the fire pit is burning. The swimming and barbecuing shouldn't need to stop after the sun goes down. Installing backyard lighting is a great way to not only extend the hours in your outdoor living space, but also enhances the ambiance and safety of your backyard. 

Whether you are looking to add backyard lighting for security, ambiance, or functionality, it is hard to know what type light to use and where to put it. Here are the top 7 ways to light your backyard this summer!

1. Light Your Dining Area

Taking a meal outdoors makes it feel special. Without the proper lighting in your outdoor dining area, the time spent enjoying the meal can be cut short because the sun goes down. When we incorporate lighting in the backyard dining area, it helps to ensure the meal is never rushed and both you and your guests are able to see the food in front of you.

Our picks for lighting your outdoor dining area:

  • Downlights 

    Downlights are mounted high up in the surrounding trees or architecture. This lighting technique casts the light directly down onto the dining area, creating a soft glow over the space. It resembles the same natural illumination that you get from moonlight. 
  • Recessed lights

    If you have a steel pergola, recessed lighting is a great option for adding lidining area. This outdoor lighting fixture is installed directly into the beams of the pergola to shine light down onto the space under the pergola. Whether that is the dining table or even the grill, it helps to keep the space well-lit for your backyard dinner. 

2. Spice up Your Backyard Living Space

You've invested so much money in your outdoor living space, why let the fun be cut short because it gets dark out. When we bring light to our backyard living spaces, it creates such a new and beautiful ambiance to the entire area. 

Our pick for lighting a backyard living space:

  • String lights
    Probably one of the most popular ways to light a backyard living space is string lights. They bring such a sense of occasion and create a fun and inviting atmosphere to the area. Strung inside a pergola or above your outdoor furniture, string lights are a great and simple way to add that desired ambiance to your backyard living space after dark.

3. Bring Light to Your Fire Pit

Light a backyard fire pit is a sure way to bring safety to the pit area. The goal when lighting a fire pit is to allow both you and your guests to navigate around the fire with ease without disrupting the ambiance of the bonfire.

Our picks for fire pit area lighting:

  • Undercap lighting

    Installed directly under the edges of a permanent fire pit or sitting wall, undercap lights create a very aesthetically pleasing look to the fire pit area. Since these lights are installed under the edges, the lights shine down toward the ground, providing that much needed safety around a fire. They help to eliminate family and friends running into or tripping over the corners of these elements. 
  • Path lights

    In order to ensure safety when coming to and from the fire, we like to add path lights. Often times fire pits are in a dark area of the backyard. Illuminating the path to get from the house to the fire pit is the best way to guide those trying to get out to the bonfire. Path lights help them see exactly where they are going!

4. Spruce up the Retaining wall

If your backyard includes any type of retaining wall, it is always a great idea to add lighting to it. Adding lighting to a wall surrounding the perimeter of the backyard removes any black holes that form near the edges. This creates a much strong ring of security to the property. 

Our pick for the retaining wall:

  • Wash lights 
    When we add lighting to a retaining wall, we use wall wash lighting technique. Wash lights sit low to the ground and cast a wide spread light across the hardscape. This allows us to not only illuminate the perimeters of the property, but it also highlights the beauty of the hardscape itself and the surrounding landscape that would otherwise be lost and unseen when the sun goes down.

5. Light the Trees

Lighting the landscape is one of the most common ways to add outdoor lighting to a backyard. It adds beauty and elegance to your outdoor space.Trees in particular scream for lighting. They are intricate and bring such life to a backyard. Without proper lighting, trees will lose that beauty after dark.
Our picks for lighting the trees:

  • Directional Uplights

    Directional up lights are great for trees because they are extremely versatile. For trees like the large cottonwood tree, directional up lights are perfect. They have the ability to adjust their angle and allow us to hit the target just right. This highlights the tree and gives the backyard dimension at night.
  • In-grade lights


    In-grade up lights are great when you need a fixture that is simple and low profile. They are great for lighting trees that are small or low to the ground like a Japanese maple. This allows you to light the tree from as low as possible to illuminate the tree well. 

6. Brighten the Walks & Steps

A necessity for backyard lighting is to light the paths and walks around the yard. When we light the walks it helps both you and guests to walk around with ease at night. It helps guide to and from outdoor living spaces, fire pits, and pools. In the same way, adding lighting to steps helps to avoid trips and falls. 

Our picks for brightening the walks & steps:

  • Path lights

    The light with the hat that shines downward to the ground are path lights. As you can tell from the name, it is most commonly used to illuminate pathways, but can be just as easily utilized for steps as well. They are installed along a walk, path or step, and because of the hat in the fixture's design, the light is casts directly onto a path or step.
  • Core drilled

    A core dried pathway light is a light installed directly into the concrete of a walkway or stair. We have the ability to drill directly into the concrete to install this fixture perfectly into the drilled space. Since it is installed into the concrete, the light is seamless with the rest of the path. This helps to subtly illuminate a walk or step without an above ground lighting fixture.  
  • Tread lights


    A tread light is a fixture that is designed to become one with a stair. It is installed into the vertical face of the step, casting a soft light onto the step to help guide you and your guests. Since the tread light is installed directly into the step itself, the fixture is barely noticeable during the daylight hours. this can also light a path if it is lined with a retaining wall. 

7. Illuminate the Gate

An important area to add light in your backyard is the gate. Adding lighting to your fence is a simple yet effective way to not only bring a visually appealing ambiance to your property, but also adds a level of security. When we light the edges, it helps to deter trespassers and keep our homes protected. 

Our pick for illuminating the gate:

  • Post lights


Our favorite way to add lighting to a gate in a backyard is post lights. This lighting fixture is attached directly to the fence post and subtly illuminates the edges of the property. Although the fixture is small, it puts out the perfect amount of light to help diminish the dark pockets in the back of the property. This is another fixture that is hardly noticeable during the day!

Are you ready to start your backyard lighting project?

If you are ready to start your backyard lighting project but don't know where to start, take the first step and 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. 

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