Convinced great lighting options are only for the indoors? Think again. The truth is, accent lights are key to making Mother Nature shine, too. Whether we're talking about the front porch, back patio, or garden, not only will great outdoor lighting ideas keep your space illuminated long after sunset, but they can also make or break the overall ambiance and provide much-needed security.
Plus, as with indoor light fixtures, there's more than one way to incorporate an illuminated focal point. Instead, try stringing fairy lights to add some sparkle to your summer night al fresco dining, hanging DIY pendants to transform your pergola, or even throwing in a few outdoor lamps to bring a bland seating area to life.
Ready to take your garden landscaping to the next level? Check out these 20 outdoor lighting ideas, and find out where you can buy fixtures of your own.
1. Pendant Lighting
Want to dress up your outdoor living space? Add a few pendant lights to the dining area. Perfect for partially covered porches and gazebos alike, this is one backyard lighting idea that will up the style factor immensely. Cassie from Hi Sugarplum! paired her easy, breezy pendants with wicker bistro chairs, melamine plates, and a tablescape full of succulents.
2. Luxe Lanterns
Let's be honest: Lanterns are some of the many outdoor light sources that are usually an afterthought. Even the biggest design enthusiast will lazily place a lantern on a stoop or dining table and call it a day. But, as the Chango & Co. team proves, they should make a statement. In this East Hampton outdoor area, the matte black lanterns play with proportions for a stately, and almost museum-like, appeal.
3. Path Lights
Unless you live in an apartment building — or a well-lit cul de sac — there's a good chance you'll have to scheme up some outdoor lighting ideas for the walkway leading to your front door. While there are plenty of path lights to brighten up your hardscape design, we're particularly fond of the slim stakes Australian firm Nest Architects used for their Glen Iris project. The good news is that stake lighting is often solar-powered — meaning no cords and no extra electricity.
4. Bistro Lights
Just because your dorm days are long gone doesn't mean you have to kick your bistro lights to the curb. Hunker contributor Trisha Sprouse gives this college staple an elegant, adult-approved upgrade by draping them over her outdoor space. Not only does this garden lighting scheme mimic the look and feel of twinkling stars, but it's also bound to get the party started.
5. Flush-Mount Porch Lights
If your interior design style skews more subtle, a flush-mounted light fixture will be the hero of your covered patio. Not only will it provide a full, far-reaching glow, but it will also blend in with the rest of your decor. Plus, the light will be practically invisible come daytime. Let Studio McGee show you how it's done.
6. Exterior Sconces
When it comes to outdoor lighting ideas, wall sconces are the gifts that keep on giving — especially when square footage is at a premium. They save plenty of floor space, jazz up your walls, and light up your patio. Now that's a trifecta we can get behind. Interior designer Emily Henderson nails the look by matching the outdoor sconces to her dining room chairs. The result? A space that's cohesive without being too matchy-matchy.
7. Motion Detecting Floodlights
Though not the sexiest of exterior lights, motion-detecting floodlights — placed at both the front and back of your home and even the sides, if you feel it necessary — are such good additions. There tend to be solar-powered options as well, but you want to make sure they get plenty of sunlight during the day in order to stay charged all night. These fixtures will alert you if there is a prowler or a predator outside. So keep the bulbs updated and checked often.
8. Safety Lighting
Got dark stairs or a dim pathway that leads to your deck or door? Keep your household and visitors safe with bulbs that illuminate each step so there aren't any mishaps. Solar versions are available for locations that get sunlight during the day to save on extra electricity. We spotted these simple additions at The Deck Store, but they are available at most hardware and lighting stores as well as Amazon.
9. Solar String Lights
We love any kind of string lights, but solar string lights are some of our faves. If you have a spot that gets plenty of sunlight during the day, hang the versions we spotted at Outdoor Solar Outlet on trees or trellises for some dreamy ambiance once it gets dark.
10. Solar Lanterns
Want another smart solar option? Go for lanterns like these cool ones from Ballard Designs. The chic look fits with almost any outdoor decor and can be moved anywhere you need a light at night. We like grouping them in pairs, but they look equally cool solo.
11. Up Lighting
Got a few gorgeous trees you miss seeing when the sun goes down? Invest in some professional up lighting to showcase your leafy friends. In-Lite has some incredible options that won't entirely break the bank.
12. Color Chasing Lights
Colored lights aren't just for Christmas anymore. These color-chasing LEDs from Amazon can be controlled by your smartphone with dazzling results. Go big with multiple light strips and give your neighborhood something to talk about, or try a more subtle look in your backyard for a private show with your peeps.
13. Curtain Lights
It's true — fairy lights come in all shapes and sizes, and these curtain lights from Amazon will add a truly whimsical touch to any back or front yard. We love how they just bring a certain kind of romantic glow to wherever they hang.
14. Paper Lanterns
These paper lanterns from Target can be lit from within by string lights all summer long. They'll bring the sparkle to your outdoors. Make sure you don't expose them to any intense sun or water, though, as they're not made of the most durable material.
15. Floating Pool Lights
Picture the perfect nighttime pool party with these solar globe lights from E Favor. Each globe pack comes with rechargeable batteries and a remote that allows you to change the colors up or just go with all-white. You can set the mood however you'd like.
16. Gas Fire Pit
The glow of a fire always creates exceptional lighting indoors or out. So we recommend getting yourself a backyard gas fire pit to enjoy year-round. Built-in models can be costly, but there are smaller ones that are less expensive and run off propane fuel. Either option will create an awesome hub for friendly gatherings.
17. Rope Lights
Rope lights have a protective layer of plastic tubing that helps them withstand outdoor elements a bit better than simple string lights. However, they may not be as aesthetically appealing overall. The Home Depot has some that are great to hang under ledges or along a roofline. And what rope lights fall short of in looks, they win in practicality and cost.
18. Outdoor Chandelier
Like a special pendant lamp, an outdoor chandelier can provide a lovely statement piece above an outdoor dining area or even hanging from the branch of a tree. You'll simply want to make sure you get one made from durable materials that can withstand harsh weather. It may be pricey but just look how elegant this one from Wayfair is.
19. LED Candles
Low cost and an easy solution when you need to add light or ambiance (or both) outdoors, these battery-operated LED candles flicker like real ones. Group multiples together for an eye-catching centerpiece under the stars. These particular ones are from West Elm, but they are easy to find online. Be sure to stock up on batteries, though, as they can burn through quickly.
20. Outdoor Torches
Who doesn't love the worldly vibe of an outdoor torch? We've seen lots of different styles from stainless steel and brass to the traditional bamboo, but Trisha Sprouse created an easy torch DIY you can follow here. Besides lighting the fixture with lamp oil, you can even install it on a gas line. Just be sure to place the torches away from any flammable surface. For a less toxic approach, consider using plant-based fuel instead of propane.
Where to Buy Outdoor Lighting
Found some outdoor lighting inspo that would look great in your space? Now it's time to find the perfect piece to bring home. So go ahead — check out these retailers and add your favorite fixtures to the cart.
In addition to its traditional wall sconces, pendants, and flush mount light fixtures, Lamps Plus also has an array of LED and motion-sensor styles.
Consider The Home Depot your one-stop shop for every need. With fan lights, pathway lights, and the occasional chandelier to choose from, you're bound to find a style for your outdoor space. While you're there, you can also pick up some patio furniture.
Rejuvenation specializes in industrial-inspired fixtures, and there's everything from outdoor sconces to flush mount fixtures for your porch.
Looking for some smaller garden lights to make your space glow? Frontgate has plenty of hurricanes, torches, and, of course, string lights in its arsenal.