The Art Of Good Outdoor Lighting Design


It seems that everyone can “do” outdoor lighting these days. Materials can be acquired, cables run, and connections made. And, voilà! you’ve got landscape lighting, right?  Well, okay, strictly speaking you do.  But you definitely don’t have good outdoor lighting. Believe it or not, there is an art to good outdoor lighting design. You can’t just grab 10 fixtures and make them fit your house. You can easily over- or under-light a property, and both of those outcomes are unattractive, counterproductive, and a waste of your money. Among the techniques an outdoor lighting designer knows how to use are the following:

  • Moon Lighting: This technique involves placing the light fixture high up in a tree and aiming it downward to mimic the glow of moonlight on the landscape. It is a beautiful and charming effect.
  • Wall Wash:  Use a flood light, from a sideways angle, to create an even wash of light over a wall.  This soft and subtle technique, which is especially effective in bringing out texture, yields big reward in terms of impact.
  • Highlighting: This lighting technique positions either a spotlight or flood light a little ways out from the base of a feature, pointed upward at the feature.  This is especially effective with statues, waterfalls or trees.
  • Shadowing: This involves also places a light in front of an object (usually a tree) but aims the light through the object to the wall behind, rather than upward as in highlighting. It lights the actual object in the front, while also creating shadow behind it. It produces a breathtaking shadow effect of the tree movement when there is a breeze.
  • Silhouetting: This technique places a light behind a particular feature and shines it at a wall, which creates a beautifully lit backdrop for the feature in question, but doesn’t really light the feature itself. Perfect for trees or shrubs that have lots of branches that will move in the wind.  You’ll see the outline of the branches as they move.  Also good for large urns or anything whose shape or movement you want to highlight.

Among the reasons you invest in outdoor lighting is the aesthetics, but also function (safety, security, the ability to use your outdoor areas at night, etc.) A trained outdoor lighting designer has studied how to employ different techniques and fixtures to achieve maximum impact and beauty, while at the same time maintaining safety and security.

A properly designed outdoor lighting system will use light and shadow to create drama, highlight the unique architectural features of the property (such as columns, water features, gazebos, and statues), and create a beautiful atmosphere, without creating nuisances or hazards, such as glare.  A professional outdoor lighting designer knows how much light you’ll need, how to hide the fixtures, and how to make sure your lights aren’t trespassing on your neighbor’s property. The art of good outdoor lighting design is something a professional has studied, and I promise, it’s not as easy as it looks.

Located in Summerfield, NC Southern Lights- Architectural and Landscape Lighting serves properties and property management companies throughout the state of NC including Greensboro, High Point, Jamestown, Burlington, Reidsville, Oak Ridge, Brown Summit, Winston-Salem, Clemmons, Raleigh, Charlotte, Kannapolis, Salisbury, Gastonia, Matthews, etc.

Southern Lights has installed hundreds of outdoor landscape lighting systems and carries more certifications than anyone in the state. We specialize in lighting designs and service everything we install as well as lighting systems installed by others. With attention to detail and a solid knowledge of design, Southern Lights is the leading outdoor landscape lighting firm in the state of NC and beyond. See why our clients choose us. Contact us today by web (online form) or phone 336-451-4969.

Get An Estimate Now


Piedmont Triad
High Country
Smith Mountain Lake

Join Our E-Book Club