The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Tree Lighting Techniques: Ideas for Making Your Trees Look Spectacular

Tree lighting can add beauty and elegance to your outdoor space. However, beautiful tree lighting can be challenging to get right. Tree lighting can be involved and require a little finesse. In this post, we discuss some basic concepts to help make your outdoor tree lighting look spectacular.

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

For residential lighting projects, soft warmly toned lights are ideal. Low voltage landscape lighting is the best choice for illuminating the home and surrounding property with the just the right amount of light. 

Most of us don't want our outdoor lighting to make our homes look like Disneyland or the Las Vegas Strip. With the right amount of light and know how, beautiful results can be achieved with low voltage lighting. 

Kinds of Trees

Different kinds of trees call for different lighting techniques. Primarily there are two kinds of trees most of us have in our yards: deciduous and coniferous. Deciduous trees, like maples and oaks, shed their leaves annually. Coniferous / evergreens like pines, spruces, and ceders keep their needles year round.

In general, deciduous and coniferous trees are lit differently depending on what part of the tree you're trying to accent. For example, is your goal to highlight the canopy or the trunk? This will change where the fixture is placed, and what kind of light bulb should be selected. 

LED Bulbs and Beam Spread

To achieve the right look for different kinds of trees, bulb selection is paramount. Different bulbs can produce different lighting effects. By adjusting for beam spread, lumen output and kelvin temperature, the lighting can be tailored to capture each tree perfectly.


No two trees are the same. For this reason, no two trees should be lit the exact same either. A small ornate Japanese maple needs to be lit differently than a large towering cottonwood tree.

Small trees often require a softer, more defused, light source. Larger trees typically call for a bulb with more punch in order for the light to reach those greater heights.

The size of the canopy and viewing angles can be a big factor as well. To capture a large established tree in the best light, multiple fixtures may need to hit the tree with light from multiple angles. The fixture needs to be placed and aimed with care to assure the right outcome. 

Fixture Selection and Placement

There are a number of different landscape lighting fixtures. But there are primarily only two types of fixtures used for most tree lighting: Directional up lights, and in-grade up lights.

Directional up lights are extremely versatile.  For trees that require light from different angles, like the large cottonwood tree seen above, directional up lights are perfect. They have the ability to adjust their angle and allow us to hit our target just right. 

In-grade up lights are great when you need a low profile fixture. Even though they are not directional, they make up for it with their low profile design. In-grade lights are wonderful for getting a light down low to illuminate something small or lower to the ground like a Japanese maple. 


Note how in the photo above, you see the effect but not the source. In-grade fixtures do a fantastic job blending into the landscape. These maple's trunks and canopies glow from within because the light source is shinning on them from directly below.  

In conclusion: 

Low voltage lighting can be a great approach to illuminate the trees around your home for beauty and aesthetics. If your not sure where to get started, begin by walking around your home at night with a flashlight. Take the flashlight and place it on the ground where it can shine up on the trees like a fixture would. Try different angles and see what works and what doesn't. Experiment and have fun with it!

If you're still looking for assistance, consider giving your local outdoor lighting specialist a call! With years of specialized experience in all thing low voltage outdoor lighting, they'll be able to provide you with answers and help you create a spectacular lighting system tailored to accentuate your home's best features. 

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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