Using Uplighting And Down Lighting in The Landscape Garden

Have you ever heard of the term “uplighting”? Landscape lighting, with its popularity growing and the impact it can have home garden design, is still overlooked and not understood by many homeowners.

All too often homeowners only install outdoor landscape lights – sometimes labeled Malibu lights – along a garden edging, pathways and walkways, limiting the lighting, to create a “runway effect.”

uplighting landscape lights

Outdoor lighting technology and manufacturing has lowered cost and ease of installation. Making garden lighting affordable for almost any budget, with simple installation almost anyone can do.

Lighting designers and engineers have at their disposal, many new, durable materials from which they have created a wide array of lamps and new landscape lighting fixture designs.

Garden lighting fixtures now can play a part in the overall landscape design plan.

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Instead of only the “runway effect,” lighting techniques can create shadows, highlight plants, water garden features and draw attention, all with automatic control.

Solar Lighting

Solar powered garden lights automatically “turn on” when night falls. Solar fixtures are great in areas requiring light, but must be installed in locations where they receive full sun for recharging during the day.

Energy efficient and economical, excellent for lighting pathways, walkways, driveways, pool and entry areas. They provide safety and security for visitors and nighttime walks in the garden.

Low Voltage Landscape Lights

Low voltage lighting (Malibu lighting) has been available for use in the landscape for decades. Most systems operate on 12 volts of power, are economical and easy to install.


Used correctly, low-voltage outdoor lighting in your landscape design provides, a beautiful, useful, elegant solution for lighting outdoor areas.

Lighting Walkways: Solar Or Low Voltage?

Both solar or low voltage lights are smart choices for lighting a walkway path to a patio or deck for safe evening access.

Both lighting fixtures by using a shield or reflector can prevent glare while directing light downward and out.

The only requirement for solar lights is the sun requirement needed for recharging each day and the low voltage needs a convenient power source.

Lighting Ideas And Techniques

By using a variety of dramatic lighting ideas and techniques like “uplighting” it’s possible to create and highlight plant silhouettes or showcase architectural features in the landscape.

What Is “Uplighting”?


Uplighting directs attention by focusing light on a single object like a tree, shrub, or addition to the landscape like a gazebo, arbor or pergola.

Depending on lighting requirements for illumination outdoors, along with plant size, maturity and location a well or bullet type lighting fixture may be specified.

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What Is “Backlighting”?

Backlighting sometimes called silhouette lighting, creates a “special effect” by illuminating or lighting up large surface areas like walls by using a fixture called wash light. The objects in front of the light appear as silhouettes.


Downlighting also called moonlighting is a lighting technique that illuminates a large general area providing safety, security and aesthetics.

Lamps and bullet fixtures are usually installed above eye level and fixture type is chosen depending on the required amount of illumination and required brightness.

Lighting Tips

Providing adequate lighting around the exterior of a house is as necessary as around the interior. You should not have to blindly find your way along walkways, driveways and other outdoor areas any more than along interior hallways, stairs, and room areas.

Limited Lighted Areas

Too many houses only provide lighting over the front door, a side door, or a back door, with the rest of the home grounds and landscape hidden by darkness once night has fallen.

This is a ongoing hazard that can be eliminated with the installation of adequate and properly designed lighting plan.

Floodlights, low voltage or solar lighting along walkways and pathways, provide regular protection against prowlers and vandals who are quickly discouraged from breaking into a home surrounded by a flood of light.

Lighting Installation Tip

When installing lighting in the landscape it is best to allow your eyes to adapt gradually to the darker surroundings, the brightness level should be higher near the house, and should diminish greatly only after moving away from the brightly lighted house interior.


For maximum safety, avoid all glare. Use frosted glass in post lanterns and other fixtures in which the bulb is visible. The bulbs themselves may need to be frosted rather than clear.

Lighting Sides Of A Home

Many homeowners understand how important is it to add landscape lighting to the sides of the house. They see the benefits of lighting the backyard landscape but question the sides.

Providing adequate necessary lighting and illumination along the sides of a house is just as important for the front walks and driveways, plus little additional lighting is required.

Very little additional lighting is required for safe and clear vision along all paths and service areas. Using low mushroom lights or small louvered or frosted glass path lights located to light up attractive border plantings, thus lending additional color and interest.

Overhead floodlights, similar to those used in other parts of the home grounds also can be used. Place them as high as possible to eliminate blinding glare and to give the largest possible circle of illumination with each fixture.

Be particularly careful to keep the lights from shining into your neighbor’s windows or home grounds. Unshielded floodlight lamps can be used only if they are located high and out of the way.

Mount all lights in tilting or swivel brackets so they may be aimed as required for best results.


Even a small backyard design, with some creative installation techniques, lighting placement and combinations can make a home more secure, more enjoyable and more valuable.

The effects created in practical and aesthetic terms with landscape lights are bound only by designer creativity, landscaping and existing architectural features.

The addition of landscaping lights extends a gardens enjoyment in value both in time and beauty into the evening hours.

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