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Patio Lighting

Get ideas from the pros on how to light a patio

  • Lighting Design The soft lighting on this patio creates an inviting atmosphere. Alexon Design Group in Gilbert, AZ
  • Lighting Design Lighting in the brick wall as well as fixtures that shine up onto the trees provide illumination for this patio. Angelo's Lawn-Scape of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, LA
  • Lighting Design A pendant light fixture hangs from the center of this pergola providing light for the patio below. Copper Creek Landscaping in Mead, WA.
  • Lighting Design This patio is lit with lighting that is hidden underneath the cap on the curved wall. McKay Landscape Lighting in Omaha, NE.
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Patio Lighting Technique

Patio Lighting
Landscaping Network
Calimesa, CA

Patio Lighting Technique (PDF)

For a subtle moonlight effect, attach lights to trees and aim them down onto your patio.

Patio lighting is all about creating atmosphere. “Think of the lighting at McDonald’s,” says TJ Wilcoxson of Alexon Design Group in Gilbert, AZ. “They purposely light it that way to encourage customers to leave as soon as they’re done eating. Now imagine the lighting at your favorite Italian restaurant. It’s romantic, it sets the scene. That’s the goal of lighting for your patio,” he says.

To encourage friends and family to relax and enjoy themselves, use subtle downlighting. Gerry DuBreuil of Belknap Landscape Company, Inc. in Gilford, NH suggests attaching lights to trees and aiming them downward through the foliage to get a moonlit effect. If you don’t have mature trees nearby, another prime opportunity for downlighting is to install fixtures in a patio cover or pergola. The pergola acts as a ceiling and can support many different styles of light fixtures as long as they are made for outdoor use. Learn more about patio cover lighting options.

Another way to light a patio is to add fixtures to a wall or column at the edge of the patio. This is an option for new construction because the fixtures have to be integrated into the structure of the wall itself. Sometimes the fixtures are hidden underneath the wall cap so that the source of the light cannot be seen. This type of lighting helps to illuminate the surface of the patio in a similar fashion to how path lights illuminate walkways. Often downlighting is used in conjunction with wall lighting.

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