How to Light Palm Trees

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Show off the palm trees in front of your house at night with landscape lighting.
Image Credit: Lorraine Boogich/iStock/GettyImages

A well-lighted palm tree adds a dramatic effect at night and becomes a welcoming sight for friends and family. However, propping up a light and pointing it toward a palm can create a bland backdrop and even wash out the very features you had hoped to highlight. Learning how to light palm trees properly will highlight the pretty palm fronds and majestic trunks and will add curb appeal to your home or business as well as increase security.

Identify Palm Tree Features

There are more than 2,500 varieties of palm trees around the world, according to Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, and each has its own unique features, from lush fronds falling from thick stalks to thin trunks topped with sparse foliage that floats high above your home.

Consider the angle of the palm to the street or the view from your backyard. Do you want to highlight the height of the palm tree's trunk or the spill of grand fronds that top a squat tree trunk? The trunk, or stem, can be smooth or prickly with texture running along its entire length. Highlight these funky features for a dazzling display in the dark.

Exterior Lighting Tips

Use exterior-grade light fixtures that can stand up to the harsh environment outdoors. Be aware of the voltage use so that you don't overload your system. Many LED exterior lighting fixtures that are ideal for palm trees start at around 4 watts and go up to 18 watts, which should be enough to light a palm tree, according to Home Depot.

Configure the lighting so that the fixtures are used to their best advantage. Most trees will require two lights, and large clusters of palms may need four or more light fixtures.

Lighting the Palm Tree Canopy

The fronds easily garner attention for their exotic and lush look. A well-lit canopy at night will allow you to see the palm tree in a whole new light. The best way to feature wide, thick fronds is with a light fixture with a beam wide enough to reach the full spectrum of the palm tree canopy. Place the light far enough away so that it bathes the canopy in light.

A warm light will play up the shadows and depth of the fronds atop the palm tree. Bright beams can actually wash out the features of the palm tree that make it so distinctive. For thick fronds at the base of the tree, mini LED string lights can be affixed to the stems that branch from the trunk.

Palm Tree Lighting

The fronds often grab all of the attention, but the trunk can showcase the stately palm tree in a few stunning ways. To give the gorgeous trunk all its due, place an exterior lighting fixture at the base of the tree and point it straight up toward the fronds. For larger trees, place one on each side of the tree so that they cross as they travel up the trunk and the underside of the canopy.

The trunk can also be wrapped in mini LED string lights. This can showcase a stunning palm tree that towers over a backyard or a squat stem that sits in a stately spot on your property.

To highlight the shape of the tree and not just the trunk, move the lights a few feet away from the base and angle it toward the tree at about 30 to 45 degrees, suggests Plant Care Today. This will provide a warmer glow over the entire tree. It's more subtle and effective for a large tree with distinctive features.

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Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.

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