Transform Your Backyard with Outdoor Lighting: Ideas From the Experts

Nov 28, 2023 12:35:19 PM

Backyard landscape lighting can be a valuable addition that helps you get more out of your Memphis property. With backyard outdoor lighting, you can gain increased functionality of your property while also adding aesthetic appeal.

Of course, if you’re serious about adding backyard outdoor lighting, you might be looking for some guidance. There are a lot of considerations to keep in mind to ensure you get the best results. 

We’ve put together this outdoor backyard lighting guide to help get you started. While there can be a lot involved in making outdoor lighting decisions, we’re here to help.

backyard pool firepit outdoor lighting

Table of Contents

How Backyard Landscape Lighting Will Enhance Your Outdoor Space
Patio Lighting Ideas: Setting the Mood for Outdoor Entertainment
Pool Landscape Lighting: Transforming Your Swimming Area into a Dazzling Oasis
Walkway Lighting: Safety and Style for Your Outdoor Pathways
Backyard Tree Lighting Ideas: Showcasing the Beauty of Your Landscape
Tips and Tricks for Choosing the Right Outdoor Lighting Design
The Benefits of Hiring a Landscape Lighting Professional

How Backyard Landscape Lighting Will Enhance Your Outdoor Space

There are some exciting benefits that can accompany a backyard landscape lighting design. 

A big one is the fact that you’ll actually be able to use your space in the evening hours

The fact is, no matter how functional your backyard is in the daytime, if you don’t have good outdoor lighting, you’re not going to be able to use your space much at night. But when you incorporate backyard landscape lighting your fun doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down.

You can light up specific areas of your Memphis property to help you get more use and enjoyment out of them. Whether you have an outdoor kitchen, a pool, or a patio where you like to hang out, soon you’ll be extending your time in these spaces.

Outdoor Kitchen Lighting backyard grill seating
These spaces will not only be more functional, but they’ll look better, too. There’s no question that backyard landscape lighting has an important aesthetic component, too. A well-lit backyard is a more beautiful backyard. This is a key consideration when it comes to increasing the value of your home.

Of course, a dark backyard is not only unfunctional, but it can also be dangerous. If you (or your guests) can’t see where they’re going, it can become a risk to navigate the space. You could easily run into something or even trip and fall. 

The key is to make wise decisions about the placement of your lighting. You want to ensure that a backyard landscape lighting design takes the specifics of your property (and your wants and needs) into account.

There are many different outdoor lighting ideas for your backyard, but the key is to determine what will best enhance your specific property. In this guide, we’ll dive into some ideas for patio lighting, pool lighting, walkway lighting, and more. In the end, you’ll want to choose the backyard lighting ideas that are right for you.

Patio Lighting Ideas: Setting the Mood for Outdoor Entertainment

For many homeowners, a patio is at the heart of their outdoor living space. Even if you have other outdoor living features, the patio is probably the foundation of that space as a whole. 

But without outdoor patio lighting, you can’t fully enjoy this space in the evening hours. Fortunately, a patio lighting plan can make a huge difference.

If you have a patio area, you might be looking for backyard patio lighting ideas to help get you started. Here are a few patio lighting ideas to consider.

Lighting Up Specific Areas of the Patio

An outdoor patio lighting design should take different areas of the patio into account individually. For instance, if you have an outdoor kitchen, you’re going to have some very specific needs for that space. You might need brighter, task lighting in a countertop area where you’re going to do food prep or cooking. 

If you also have a dine-in area where guests can eat their meals al fresco, you’ll likely want to light this space well enough for people to see but not so bright that it takes away from the mood.

There needs to be variations in brightness and light type to achieve your primary goals.

Another popular patio spot is typically a fire pit or fireplace area. Again, there are likely going to be some very specific goals for a space like this. Generally, people are looking for some ambiance by the fire and you don’t want the lighting to overpower it. 

No matter what the space, you want to make sure that your outdoor patio lighting plan is customized for you.

Fireplace and Patio Lighting-1

Use Lighting Techniques and Ideas to Maximize Value

Great outdoor patio lighting is so much more than a spotlight. You want to integrate light in various ways into your space to help ensure you maximize functionality. 

For instance, one way that we like to light up a patio is with built-in hardscape lighting. 

This is exactly what it sounds like…lights that are built right into the hardscaping. You can use this for wall lighting, step lighting, or even lights within the patio itself.

We can also incorporate niche lights around specific features or areas of the property that you want to either enjoy (and view) or use at night. This might include lighting around an outdoor fireplace or a retaining wall.

Another form of lighting that we like to use for outdoor patio lighting is downlighting. Downlighting is a form of lighting in which the lights are located above (and as the name implies) cast light downward. Downlights are often installed high in the trunk of a tree or on a branch and then aimed at the patio. It’s a great way to provide visibility and light up the patio area in an attractive way.

Architectural Patio Lighting- Tree Uplighting

Use Lighting Controls for Outdoor Patio Lighting

As far as backyard patio lighting ideas, we’d also recommend lighting controls that would allow you to customize your patio lighting settings for various purposes. With lighting control, you can create different pre-set lighting arrangements that allow you to get “just the right lighting” at the push of a button.

You can also change the brightness and make other alterations from an app on a smart device. Lighting controls give you the ultimate control and customization of your lighting design.

Landscape lighting customer control on phone 3

Pool Landscape Lighting: Transforming Your Swimming Area into a Dazzling Oasis

Landscape lighting around a pool is another important consideration if you have a swimming pool. If you light up your pool in an attractive and functional way, it can really help enhance and maximize your time there. 

After all, a swimming pool is likely the center of your outdoor living area. But it’s not going to be very functional if it’s not well-lit. 

If you have a pool, we’ve put together some pool area lighting ideas that will help you get more out of this space.

Pool and patio lighting seating areas

Light Up Your Pool

This might seem obvious but one of the first things you should focus on is lighting up the pool itself. When you sit outside at night, you want to enjoy your pool, even if you’re just looking at it. When a pool is lit with thoughtful pool area lighting, it can really enhance its beauty in a unique way. 

In fact, pool features can take on a unique look and feel in the evening hours. We’ll talk about lighting up water features in the next pool area lighting idea. But the point is that you want to make sure that your pool and all of its unique features are lit in an aesthetically beautiful way.

Shine a Light on Your Water Features

Another great pool area lighting idea is to light up your water features. Whether your pool has fountains, bubblers, or maybe even a waterfall, suddenly these features add a new sense of ambiance to your pool area in the evening.

You don’t have to be in the pool itself to enjoy water features. When they are light up with attractive lighting, you can get more enjoyment out of these pool features even while lounging or dining poolside. 

It can give you a whole new appreciation for your pool.

Pool and Landscape Lighting with lighted waterfall

Light Up Your Landscape

The landscaping around a pool is typically installed to help you more thoroughly enjoy the swimming pool area as a whole. Whether you’re lounging poolside or actually in the pool itself, the landscaping can make your backyard feel more like an oasis.

Of course, without landscape lighting around a pool, it can’t be enjoyed in the evening hours. Lighting can be installed in a way that accents some of your favorite plants, shrubs, and even trees. It’s a very customized process based on the individuality of your pool landscaping. 

Incorporate Tiki Torches

We have also found that many homeowners love tiki torches as a pool lighting idea. There’s just something about tiki torch lights that adds a fun feel to a pool area.

We have a tiki torch light that can also double as a downlight to illuminate your pool deck. You can light the wick on top for that tropical resort-like ambiance while also casting functional light downward so that you and your guests can navigate the space safely.

In general, navigation around the pool area is a really critical consideration for pool area lighting. The pool can become a hazard in the evening hours if people can’t see where it is. The last thing that you want is for a trip and fall accident to occur around your pool. Landscape lighting around a pool plays a critical role in keeping the area safe.

Tiki Torch lights by pool

Walkway Lighting: Safety and Style for Your Outdoor Pathways

Your outdoor pathways are such an important part of your Memphis property. They help you navigate your outdoor areas in a safe and efficient way. 

However, if these pathways are not well-lit in the evening hours, they can not only become less functional but can become a hazard.

This is why outdoor pathway lighting should be an important component of your outdoor backyard lighting plan.

Functionality and safety are two huge reasons for lighting your pathways at night. But you still want your lighting design to be aesthetically appealing in these areas. We have rounded up some outdoor walkway lighting ideas that will help you make the best decisions.

Residential landscape lighting pathway gate

Think Outside the “Path Light Box”

Without a doubt, the primary way homeowners think to do outdoor pathway lighting is with outdoor path lights. But we want to let people know there are other outdoor walkway lighting ideas, too. 

One of our favorite ways to light a walkway is with downlighting. Trees often make a perfect spot to mount lights and shine them on the ground below. This can be an excellent way to light up a path so that people can see exactly where they are going.

Downlighting is sometimes also called “moonlighting,” because it creates a similar lighting effect to the moon. Light is cast downward and washes over a space. This can be both an attractive and effective way to ensure that people can see where they’re going on a path.

Residential bridge pathway tree uplighting

Install Lights Into the Path Itself

Another idea outside of the path lights approach is built-in lighting. This is a unique way to light a pathway. However, keep in mind it won’t light the whole area the same way that downlighting would. 

Still, it’s a nice way to provide a visual as to how far the path goes ahead without being overpowering. If your pathway has steps, sometimes homeowners like to build lights right into those steps for extra guidance.

Residential landscape walkway and fountain lighting with lights in path

Incorporate Wall Lighting

Often, pathways have retaining walls somewhere in the design. Lights can also be built into retaining walls as part of your outdoor pathway lighting plan. These lights can be cast downward to help illuminate the walkway itself.

It is also an added benefit that if you have a beautiful stone wall, those stones take on a unique look in the evening hours

Path Lights Can Still Be Part of Your Outdoor Pathway Lighting Plan

While we want to show that there are other walkway lighting ideas besides path lights, that’s not to say that you can’t use them. Path lights are so popular because they really are functional for this purpose. 

However, when talking about professional pathway lighting, it’s important to note that these are not the cheap solar-powered path lights that you might pick up at your local big box store. These are still high-quality lights that will look and function optimally. 

Making sure that path lights look great in your backyard landscape lighting design also means smart decision-making. Exactly where path lights are installed (and how many) are important design considerations to achieve the best possible look. 

Where people tend to go wrong with path lights is using too many of them. Free-standing path lights can be overdone, and detract from the aesthetics. You can run the risk of creating an airport landing strip look if you overdo it with path lights.

Another common mistake with path lights is installing them somewhere that they’re going to constantly get knocked over. 

Making wise choices when it comes to path light installation is key.

landscape lighting installation crew walkway lighting

Backyard Tree Lighting Ideas: Showcasing the Beauty of Your Landscape

Outdoor lighting ideas for your backyard will also likely include ideas for your property’s trees. With the right tree lighting incorporated into your lighting design, you can enjoy the beauty of your property in the evening hours. 

In fact, with landscape lighting for trees, your property’s trees will take on a new and dramatic look.

Here are some tree lighting ideas that will help get you started.

Downlighting Trees 

Downlighting is a form of tree lighting in which the lights are installed within the tree (and as the name implies) cast the light downward. We’ve already mentioned this lighting technique as we like using it for various areas of the property. 

Trees can be used as a location to attach lights so that you can see a pathway or patio below. 

Downlighting is meant to look natural and simulate a moonlight effect. It helps to illuminate a broad area below. Using downlighting from a tree can also light up landscaping beneath it (like your smaller shrubs). It creates a cascade of light that adds aesthetic appeal to the property.

Residential landscape lighting crew tree down lighting positioning

Uplighting Trees

Whereas downlighting has more to do with illuminating a broad area, uplighting is focused more on highlighting the tree itself. 

This is a great lighting technique on a tall tree and can really make a difference in your nighttime landscaping. With the light directed up the tree trunk or at the canopy, it creates a dramatic and elegant effect.

Any tree that has interesting bark, branch structures, flowers, or leaves can make a good candidate for uplighting. 

Tree Uplighting Closeup. Home Landscape Lighting

Spotlighting a Specimen Tree

If you have a really gorgeous specimen tree or maybe a beautiful shrub that you want to showcase, you can use bullet lights to highlight these individual features. It’s almost as though the landscape becomes art in these situations. You could also do this with an attractive shrub or set of shrubs that you want to show off.

You are showcasing a beautiful tree that you previously could only enjoy during the daylight. Now that it’s lit up, you can enjoy it after the sun has gone down.

Landscape lighting for trees is so much more than just shining a spotlight on a tree or shrub. You want the design to be artistic and beautiful.

Tips and Tricks for Choosing the Right Outdoor Lighting Design

Making smart outdoor lighting choices can help you to get the most out of your Memphis property, even during the nighttime hours. But the key to success is a smart outdoor lighting design. It’s easy to assume that outdoor lights in the yard are relatively simple to set up or arrange but this isn’t the case at all.

Outdoor lighting can actually be quite complicated and involve a lot of decisions.

customer and team consultation 5
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right outdoor lighting design.

Lighting Placement, Color Temperature, And Brightness are All Important

Homeowners rarely recognize the sheer number of decisions that need to be made for an outdoor lighting design. Everything from lighting placement to the brightness of the lights matters when it comes to the end result.

Even the height of the lights is critical when it comes to the finished product. Placing lights at various heights can really alter the look and function of the light. The proper height will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. 

In fact, each of these factors ultimately contributes to the finished outdoor lighting design. Where you place lights, how bright or high they are, or even their color temperature can all lead to variations in the finished look and functionality of your design. You want to make sure that you’re making the best possible decisions with each of these considerations. 

Like any other project that you have done to your home, at the end of the day, it’s important that your finished design meets your specific wants and needs. 

Lighting temp guide

Consider Your “Lighting Style”

Every single homeowner and property is unique, so when creating an outdoor lighting design, it’s important to listen to your inner wants and needs. The look of your home as well as your personal preferences both need to be taken into account. These help to form your personal “lighting style.”

Are you looking for more of a natural lighting scheme with a lot of moonlighting and soft light? Or, are you really looking to showcase your property with a bold style? 

You might have an important sculpture or maybe a specimen tree that you really want to show off. You might be looking for brighter landscape accent lighting to highlight these particular features.

Chances are, you already have some outdoor lighting design ideas in mind, which are part of your personal lighting style.

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to have different lighting styles and preferences for different areas of your property. It’s all about how you use the space and what you want to highlight with landscape accent lighting.

Residential Landscaping lighting walkway night after 10

Partner with a Pro for the Best Outdoor Lighting Design

As far as how to design outdoor lighting, it’s critical that you partner with a professional who will listen to your wants and needs while also applying their expertise to the design process. 

Outdoor lighting ideas for your backyard can become overwhelming on your own. But when you are partnering with a professional outdoor lighting expert, you can lean on their guidance. In the next section, we will dive into just how important it is to make sure you hire the right professional for this work.

customer and team consultation shaking hands 1

The Benefits of Hiring a Landscape Lighting Professional

As you can see from the sections in this guide, there’s a lot involved in backyard outdoor lighting. There are so many nuances and making the right decisions will ultimately impact the end result. 

This is why it’s important to opt for professional landscape lighting. 

You can tell the difference between a “DIY” job and one that was completed by a pro. 

When you work with a professional lighting company, you add value to your property in terms of functionality and enjoyment, but also in tangible monetary value. A home with great lighting is worth more than one that is still “in the dark.”

Residential landscape pool structure lighting
On the flip side, a DIY lighting job can be accompanied by hassles, headaches, and even potential danger. After all, lighting is complicated and even dangerous work if it’s not installed properly. It involves working with electrical wiring and you want to make sure that it’s done right.

Finding the Best Landscape Lighting Professional

Getting all of the benefits of lighting means finding the right landscape lighting professional. While there are plenty of landscape lighting services in Memphis, you don’t want to trust this work to just anyone.

Ideally, you want to look for a company that employs a Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer. This is the highest level certification out there and means that you are getting a true professional. 

customer and team consultation 7
You also want to find a company that is truly focused on providing landscape lighting. Often lighting is an “add-on service” for a lot of landscaping companies. That might mean they can do it…but can they truly give you the level of artistry and professionalism you want? To get the best backyard landscape lighting, you want to find a company that does lighting all day, every day. 

In order to find the right professional, we suggest that you take your time and do your research. We would recommend spending time looking through the websites of the companies that you’re considering. Go to the “About Us” page of any company that you’re considering so that you can learn more.

It’s a big decision but when you choose wisely, you’ll gain peace of mind that you’ll be happy with the results. 

Working with Mid South Night Lights on Backyard Landscape Lighting in Memphis

At Mid South Night Lights, we know that outdoor backyard lighting is more than just something that “looks nice.” While there’s no doubt it will add tremendous aesthetic appeal, it also brings functional value by allowing you to get more use out of your space. 

Lighting can truly be the difference between spending precious moments on your patio in the evening or being stuck inside. 

If you choose Mid South Night Lights for your outdoor lighting project, we are ready to help you maximize the enjoyment and use of your outdoor areas with a lighting design that is customized for you. 


With just the right lighting, you’ll be enjoying your property more than ever.

Are you ready to create a secure, functional, and beautiful property at any hour of the day? If so, let’s meet and discuss some bright ideas.

Request a Consultation

Pool Lighting , Patio Lighting , Landscape Lighting , Tree Lighting , Guide