HomeOutdoor Living Blog16 Best Backyard Lighting Ideas To Liven Your Space

16 Best Backyard Lighting Ideas To Liven Your Space

March 10, 2023
A backyard deck features built-in lighting in steps and post caps, with a pergola wrapped in string lights above a dining set.

When warm nights are made for stargazing and after-dark pool parties, there’s no reason your garden should shut down with the sun. Instead, explore these backyard lighting ideas to improve your safety, ambiance, and landscaping design. 

From security floodlights to twinkling fairy lights in trees, yard lights vary in intensity, color, fixture design, function, and power source. It takes time to dig through all of the styles available and match them with your yard design, so we’ve gathered our favorite lighting ideas below so you can choose from the best. 

1. String and fairy lights

String lights stretch over a deck at dusk with a fire pit and lounge chairs below.

String lights are the go-to choice for everything from backyard bashes to a romantic bistro on your deck. They’re easy to install and move, so you can add a soft glow to your railing or zigzag the strand through your patio cover. You can purchase string lights with a variety of bulb styles, lengths, and power options so you have the perfect lighting for your backyard. 

2. Stair lighting

A multi-level deck features lights built into each stair riser leading up to a backdoor and bay window.

Built-in lights can elevate any structural design, and patio and deck steps are a great place to start. Stair lighting improves safety and adds a warm glow to your backyard design. Flush-mount lights in your decking or risers are discreet, while inset light strips or accents can add some flair. 

Give it a try: TimberTech Riser Lights

  • Discreet and seamless finish
  • Low-voltage LED
  • Powder-coated aluminum for durability
  • Rating: 4.9 with 44 reviews

3. Deck railing lights

White railing with black balusters lines the perimeter of a deck and features lights built into the railing post caps.

Your deck railing also provides a number of built-in lighting opportunities so you can illuminate your yard without having to hide extension cords. Lights can be installed in post caps, under your top rail, or wherever you’d like some extra glow. This means you can provide a safely lit perimeter, or choose to feature particular areas of your deck with subtle lightning. 

Give it a try: TimberTech Lighted Island Cap

  • Downward-facing light for a delicate glow
  • Low-voltage LED
  • Available in three color finishes
  • Rating: 4.9 with 10 reviews

4. Solar landscaping

A path up to a front porch is surrounded by low-lying landscaping with ground-level landscaping lights throughout.

Landscaping lights make great perimeters for your flower beds and walkways, as well as providing accent lights for favored features like benches or fountains. Solar lights are especially convenient since they don’t need complex wiring and will turn on automatically around dusk. 

Landscape lights are often ground stakes with a light on top, but they’re also available as string lights, floodlights, or recessed lights. They’re also manufactured with a variety of finishes, shapes, and colors, so there’s no limit to your creativity. 

5. Hanging lanterns

Two photos display a black lantern hanging from a patio roof while one is lit and the other is off.

Lanterns are small fixtures that can add a lot of personality to your decor, offering beautiful glass designs and a variety of power options. A classic candlelight lantern will flicker through the night, while battery-powered lanterns are extra convenient without sacrificing on style. 

Lanterns are also available as standalone decor, or as fixtures installed to a wall or hanging from above. Just ensure your lanterns are rated for outdoor use or plan to bring them in at the end of the night. 

6. Recessed lighting 

A back deck with a dining set is protected by an overhead cover with recessed lights built-in.

Recessed lights are the ultimate choice for a chic and cozy backyard lighting design. They’re also trendy and easy to install with LED strips. For elevated and long-lasting lights, explore built-in options for your landscape and deck lighting

7. Accent features

Intentional lighting offers more than enhanced safety and ambiance. Well-placed accent lights are a great opportunity to highlight your favorite garden features and build an interesting backyard scene. Statues, flagpoles, and water features are just as beautiful at night, and lighting helps guests enjoy the full wonder of your garden at any hour. 

8. Intentional designs

A stilted deck wraps around a home with built in deck and railing lights illuminating a pergola covered dining platform.

Thoughtful lighting can highlight features of your yard as well as shift the energy of your space. Choices including color, intensity, placement, and movement can all affect your backyard light design. 

Consider how blue recessed lights around a bar would provide a trendy dance energy, while warm white string lights above a dining table create a casual and welcoming atmosphere. Using different colors or light fixtures also designates separate moods and functions for yard spaces, like a comforting vibe around a fire pit vs. colorful lights in your flower beds to add a fun flair. 

9. Bold fixtures

A large pergola sports recessed lights and two contemporary light fixtures hanging above poolside dining and seating areas.

Your light fixtures can contribute to your decor just as much as the lighting itself. Explore hanging pendant lights to add levels to your design, or a modern chandelier for elegance. Fixtures are fun ways to bring the eye up and balance low-lying patio and yard decor. 

10. Classic lamps

A back sunroom is lit with natural light and a warm white lamp next to a sofa.

Weather-safe lamps provide the same soft comfort as your favorite interior reading lamp so you can enjoy pleasant outdoor living on your patio or deck. Choose between tabletop lamps or standing lights for your garden — just be sure they’re rated for outdoor use. 

11. Tall torches

Torches are a classic choice for outdoor lighting with an added benefit of serving as a pest repellent. There are plenty of torch styles to choose from. They’re often made of bamboo or metal, and you can even opt for solar power if you’d rather not bother with the lighter. Tall torches are great for the yard and pathways, while tabletop torches are great for your patio bar or other surfaces.

12. Pool lights

Two photos showcase built-in pool lights submerged in glowing inground pools.

Your pool is a major feature of your backyard and entertainment space, and it deserves to be seen with a little light. Built-in pool lighting can be installed around the perimeter or even below the surface for a dancing effect that can reflect across your yard. They’re great for night swims or just a safety boost for guests walking around your garden after dark. 

13. Programmable party lights

Modern LED lights are often programmable, including smartphone support or remote controls to determine color, patterns, movement, and more. Multicolor party lights are great for dancing, playdates, and pool parties, and some fixtures may even offer pattern customization and effects like strobing or dimming.

14. Home highlights

Interior lights, wall fixtures, and path lights add a warm yellow glow at dusk around a home and yard.

While you’re focused on making your backyard shine with new lights, consider how your interior lights look from outside your home. For example, a decorative light in a large bay window will flood light into the yard, and the fixture itself may be visible, too.

You can also highlight your favorite home assets with exterior lighting. Recessed lighting around a veranda roof is a lovely way to feature a Victorian’s ornate trim, and a floor light could show off your home’s bold color in the dark. 

15. Classic candles

Two photos show pillar candles ideas with one in a lantern on top of a dining table, and the other as part of a coffee table centerpiece.

Candles are affordable and easy to find, and they’re also a versatile lighting choice for your yard. Tabletop candleholders or glass torches add class to an outdoor dining space, while wall-mounted sconces and torches provide flickering ambiance throughout your yard. Citronella candles can even ward off mosquitos and other pests. 

16. Dark sky lights

Dark sky zones are designated areas with so little light pollution you can enjoy a clear view of the night sky. Even if you don’t live in a dark sky zone, fixtures designed to limit light pollution ensure you always have a beautiful view for stargazing. Downward-facing, blue light-free lights with International Dark-Sky Association (DSA) approval are a great place to start. 


From improved security to the perfect summer evening atmosphere, there are many reasons to explore new backyard light ideas for your property. Here are some tips to help you design your perfect lighting. 

What’s the best way to light your backyard?

If you’re looking for plug-and-play lighting, solar lights are the easiest to install in your yard. There’s little to no wiring required, and they come on automatically at dusk. The downside is they may not get a full charge in partial shade or on overcast days, so they’re not a fit for every home. 

Pathway lights are a great place to begin installing lights since they follow the flow of traffic and improve safety. You can choose between solar, battery-powered, or wired lights, and you also have the choice of staked or inset fixtures. 

What are the best outdoor landscaping lights?

LED bulbs are the most efficient choice for brighter lights with a longer battery life. They stay cool to the touch so they’re safe around your garden, pets, and kids, and they’re available in bulbs, strips, and more. 

Solar lights are the easiest to install and are available with LED bulbs. They’re not the most durable or consistent choice, however, since a stormy day may mean little to no charge. But there’s no complicated wiring and quality solar lights are relatively affordable. 

Which backyard light ideas are most affordable?

Lanterns and string lights are super affordable options. They’re easy to find in local shops and online, and you can choose the size, bulb, and energy source you prefer for each. Solar-powered lights in your design of choice are also an affordable option if your yard sees plenty of sun. 

There’s no shortage of backyard lighting ideas for your party, pool, and deck spaces. Design the perfect landscape lighting with fun, programmable colors or a warm and welcoming glow, depending on your outdoor aesthetic and function. 

Dreaming of hosting candlelit dinners and evening chats around the fire? Design the perfect deck for entertaining with built-in lighting and your favorite features.

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