How To Landscape Lighting Design (Steps And Tips)

When designing landscape lighting, the reason behind the decision comes first; the other two things that usually come to mind include choosing the best outdoor lights and setting up outdoor lightsOpens in a new tab.. This way, you can select the proper landscape lighting. But for, this article will focus on how to landscape lighting design and landscape lighting techniques. 

The design steps include developing landscape layout ideas, creating landscape sketches, choosing desired landscape lighting fixtures, organizing landscape fixture spacing, the layout with wire runs, and the source of power supply.Opens in a new tab.

Best steps to landscape lighting design

1. Develop the landscape layout idea

The first and easy way to develop a landscape layout ideaOpens in a new tab. is to walk around it in daylight and nightfall; that way, you can easily choose critical areas by marking out essential features that need illumination like water features, stone walls, statues, etc. These are key landscape areas because of the visual characteristics and high/first-level lightingOpens in a new tab.

Other important focal points include pathways, driveways, porches, and deck areas requiring modern exterior lighting.  

2. Create the landscape sketch

Creating a landscape sketch involves drawing the landscape. The drawing will include buildings and perimeters, trees, vegetation, docks, branches, and essential garden decorations. We will identify key landscape areas by creating a sketch of the landscape. By defining those key areas, you will also include the length and height of those focal points, adding any landscape lighting already present.

3. Choose desired landscape lighting fixtures.

After the first and second steps have been completed, choosing the right fixtures for those areas is more effortless. With this, you already have a layout of the landscape and note any other existing lighting systemOpens in a new tab.

It is essential to choose the right fixtures because of all that’s involved and the complications it may cause. You can select either in-ground, accent, or flood landscape fixtures. Another important thing is the control of brightness levels, color, and beam. With landscape systems, there are two options, a solid die-cast or K-alloy aluminum. 

Supplying a 120V and installing a 120V to your landscapeOpens in a new tab. are two different things. Supplying 120V can be hard workOpens in a new tab. and costly while installing 120V involves wiring below the surface. If you have an existing 120V infrastructure on the landscape or want it installed close to the receptacle outdoor, a 120V is ideal. If you plan to use other layouts, then a power supply from a central power source is recommended for a landscape lighting system for 12VOpens in a new tab. low voltage. 

4. Landscape fixture spacing

When it comes to landscape fixture spacing, it depends on individual preference; on average, you get a 6 feet lead wire with every landscape lightingOpens in a new tab. product; it helps when you want to make some adjustments. You will find some familiar landscape light fixtures below. 

5. Final layout, including wire runs and power supply

The final landscape lighting idea brings together all the steps to life, from developing the landscape layout idea, creating the landscape sketch, choosing desired lighting fixturesOpens in a new tab., landscape fixture spacing, and now the layout, wire runs, and power supply. The benefit of using a 12V low voltage system provides space for more runsOpens in a new tab. to all landscape fixtures from just a single transformer. The whole landscape lighting system can operate through a single power source whether it runs through underwater, wet or dry locations. 

Another critical point is to select the correct transformer size and maximum wattage capacity between 75 to 600 watts; this is because of the number of fixtures used and fixture runs involved in the project. 

Another critical point is to allow some space for expansion, in the case of additional landscape fixtures like garden features or planting a tree. Allowing room for future additions helps avoid tampering with the existing setup. 

Another crucial point is to add a lighting timer or a photocell to help control the landscape lighting automatically. Also, it is essential to use an energy-efficient LED for your landscape lighting plan, using line voltage or lowOpens in a new tab. voltage systems with advanced technologies. 

Best steps to landscape lighting design

Types of outdoor lighting fixtures 

Below are the different types of outdoor lighting fixtures with descriptions, spaces, and how to use them. 

1. Path lights Path and area lights light up pathways for safety and to beautify the homeOpens in a new tab.The space between path light and area light is about 10ft
2. Accent lightsThe accent or spotlight is adjustable and helps create some nice effects for down or uplighting. It is for precision lighting like illuminating structures in a garden, specific trees, or any other elements. For significant elements like big trees, you need up to 4 fixtures, and for more minor features, you need fewer than two fixtures. 
3. Wall washThe wall wash light is for a broader and even flood of light, used for garden walls and fences.For wall wash light, place the light about 2ft or less from the wall for even illumination. For light-to-light spacing, 6ft to 8ft apart is good.
4. In-ground lightsThe inground light help illuminate pathways or tall tree, or driveway. Spacing: For pathways, about 4ft to 6ft apart, and for tree illumination, about 3 to 4 fixtures around the tree.
5. Hardscape fixturesThe hardscape fixtures are low profile and easily concealed under landscape and architectural features like bench seating, window ledges, post, deck handrails, and much more. If you require to illuminate the large area, you need a large size hardscape fixture; for small tight spaces, use 3in size, and for under deck rails, steps or walls, use a 6in size. 
6. Indicator lightsThe indicator lights highlight patio or deck edges used to highlight the driveway perimeter. For indicator lights, you need at least 2ft spacing to mark border perimeters of the desired area. 

Landscape lighting design guide 

Landscape lighting design guides involve different strategies to highlight a key point or focal point areas. In addition, the design guides help to create a landscape lighting effect that has to do with a particular mood or ambiance in the area. Below are some of the best landscape lighting design guides.

1. Highlighting

Use highlighting light to illuminate the color, form, and shape of an element around the home. In other words, creating awareness or the presence of an object can be achieved by using floodlights or spotlights below/around the feature. With this lighting, you can easily adjust the beam angle and distance until the desired effect is obtained.

2. Silhouetting

The light is usually hidden to create a silhouette by placing well-lights or a spotlight behind the object that highlights the shapes. As a result, these shapes are not particularly noticeable by day or with sunlight.

3. Accenting

Accenting is used to point out specific features of an object or element like statues or trees by focusing the spotlight narrowly pointing up or down from a hidden position on the item. 

4. Shadowing

Shadowing creates a shadow on the hardscape or wall from behind the object of interest with a moody effect. To achieve the shadowing result, you can use a floodlight, well-light, or a spotlight to illuminate the object by placing it between the vantage point and the object. 

5. Moonlighting

Moonlighting is used to create a moonlight effect, a common practice of using spotlights on rooftops or trees angled downward. In addition, it intends to make soft light fixtures and soft shadows that bathe the ground from the tree branches.

6. Washing

Washing is the indirect illumination of vast hedges or wall with even floodlights that focuses on an entertainment space.

7. Downlighting

Downlighting uses accenting method on garden features from above; downlighting tends to replicate natural lights. It creates a warm natural glow and makes the garden safe and secure.

8. Uplighting

Uplighting helps create drama with objects or structures like trees, showing off their shape and form below. It can also create different illumination angles when spotlights or well lights a placed close to the base.

9. Grazing

Grazing lights illuminate or graze flat surfaces with dramatic shadows by taking advantage of the texture using well-lights or hardscape lights. 

How To Landscape Lighting Design Steps And Tips

Landscape lighting design tips

  • Avoid overlapping of lights by mounting fixtures very close together.
  • Indirect lighting works betterOpens in a new tab. instead of focusing lights directly on the patio.
  • Use specially developed outdoor gel-filled wire connectors with splice connections.
  • Factory-installed connectors are standard connectors that corrode quickly after a short time; you should get rid of them.
  • Before installing any underground wiring, ensure to have any or all planting intended for the landscape to avoid cutting buried cables. 
  • You can use halogen bulbs and LED lightsOpens in a new tab. without trying to switch one to another.

What is the best low voltage landscape lighting

Below is the list of top low-voltage landscape lightingOpens in a new tab. used for outdoor lighting. 

Low-voltage landscape lightingFeatures
ZUCKEO 5W LED Landscape Lights – Best LED Landscape Lighting KitsLED Light source
12V Input voltage
Warm white color
IP65 waterproof
270-degrees adjustable head
Thick aluminum material
500 Lumens per piece
 MEIKEE 7W LED Landscape LightsOpens in a new tab. – Best Pathway Outdoor Lights7 watts LED lights
Working voltage 12.24V
Rating: IP66 waterproof
800 Lumens
Aluminum body
SUNVIE 12W LED Lights – Best LED Landscape Lighting KitsAluminum Material
12V input voltage AC/DC
Super warm white
50,000-hour lifespan
IP65 waterproof
Beam angle 90 degree
270 adjustable degree
Hypergiant 12W LED Lights – Best Security Landscape LightsOpens in a new tab.12 watts
Black cast-aluminum material
Warm white color 3000-3500K
IP65 waterproof
20,000 hours lifespan
12V Input voltage AC/DC
850 Lumens
Lumina Low Voltage Lights – Affordable Low Voltage Landscape LightsOpens in a new tab.Spotlight
Aluminum material
160 adjustable degree
Tempered glass lens



Charles is a freelance writer whose areas of expertise include home renovation, gardening, and design. A graduate with a degree in Digital Marketing and Business Management. Charles is currently a freelance writer. Charles is always typing away on his laptop or tackling his newest home improvement project. He likes to spend quality time with his family, riding, and working out at the gym.

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