30 Garden Lighting Ideas to Make Your Plants Shine

Proper lighting can make a huge difference in how your garden looks at night. With creative garden lighting ideas, you can highlight the best features of your landscape while also providing safety and ambiance. From path lights to spotlights, here are 30 ways to make your plants shine after dark.

Illuminate Pathways and Walkways

Outdoor pathways and walkways are an ideal place to add lighting. Not only does it allow you to see where you are going at night, but it can also create a magical glow throughout the garden.

  • Solar path lights – Small solar-powered path lights are an easy option. Place them along the edges of pathways or staggered in garden beds. Opt for warm white bulbs.
  • Step lights – Illuminate steps and short pathways with step lights. Install them on the risers or pointed at an angle to light each tread.
  • Bollard lights – Low bollard lights can brightly light longer pathways. Place them at regular intervals along the sides.
  • Spotlights – Use spotlights or bullet lights to spotlight statues, water features and other design elements along paths.
  • Hanging lights – Suspend cute hanging lanterns from tree branches overhanging paths and walkways. Go for strings of globe lights for a festive look.

Highlight Flowerbeds and Plants

Shine a spotlight on your prized flowers, garden beds and landscaping with targeted garden lighting. This shows off your hard work while adding ambiance.

  • Spotlights – Aim spotlights at focal points from path lights or strategic spots. Go for narrow beams to highlight specific plants.
  • Recessed lights – Install recessed well lights around planting beds to cast even lighting across the full garden bed.
  • Silhouette lighting – Place uplights behind plants and trees to create a dramatic backlit silhouette effect.
  • Floodlights – For large bushes, gardens and landscaping, floodlights provide broader wash lighting. Blend the colors.
  • Hanging lights – Suspend pretty hanging lights over planting beds for an enchanting glow. Go for spherical designs.

Create Ambiance With Post Lights

Light up your garden by placing post lights in flowerbeds, along the edges and in key locations to add ambiance. Mix pillar and post styles for variety.

  • Solar post caps – Top garden stakes and short posts with solar-powered lights for easy plug-and-play lighting.
  • Metal post lights – Iron, aluminum or copper post lights mounted on tall stakes provide chic downlighting.
  • Pillar lights – Short, pillar-style lights packed closely together cast a soft glow for ambiance.
  • Path lining – Flank pathways with a lining of short posts topped with post cap lights.
  • Flower bed accents – Place antique-style post lights sporadically within planting beds. Use candelabra bulbs.

Light Up Trees and Shrubs

From festive string lights to landscape spotlights, focus light on ornamental trees and shrubs to make them shine.

  • Spotlights – Train spotlights or floodlights onto ornamental tree canopies to mimic moonlight.
  • Uplighting – Uplights placed at the base of trees illuminate the trunks and canopy beautifully from below.
  • Silhouette lighting – Backlight trees and shrubs to create a dramatic darkened silhouette.
  • String lights – Wrap tree trunks and branches with waterproof string lights for a whimsical look.
  • Shrub uplighting – Place staggered uplights amid shrubbery and bushes to cast an even glow.

Illuminate Garden Beds With LED Strips

For vibrant color effects, install LED lighting strips in planting beds, tucked beneath shrubs and along hardscaping.

  • RGB LED strips – Programmable RGB strips create a rainbow of customizable color options.
  • White LEDs – For softer lighting, white LED strips deliver bright but neutral illumination.
  • Hardscape accents – Adhere LED strips beneath benches, steps, fences and pergolas.
  • Low-voltage – Power LED strips with a low voltage transformer for safety and energy efficiency.
  • Waterproofing – Seal connections and coat strips in silicone for weather-resistance outside.

Add Drama With Uplighting

Strategically placed uplights cast dramatic shadows and illuminate structures from below. Use them on patios, fences, planting beds and more.

  • Landscape uplighting – Spotlight trees, bushes and plantings from below for depth and interest after dark.
  • Hardscape uplighting – Mount uplights to fences, garden walls, patios and pergolas to highlight architectural features.
  • Grazing – Graze light across textured surfaces like stucco and stone walls for striking light patterns.
  • Shadow effects – Position uplights to cast long, bold shadows across walls, steps, and pathways for contrast.
  • Multi-level lighting – Combine uplighting with path lights and post lights for a layered illumination effect.

Highlight Garden Water Features

Accentuate fountains, ponds, pools and other water elements with strategic lighting for gorgeous effects after dark.

  • Submersible lights – Place pond lights beneath water to illuminate fountains and ponds from below.
  • Spotlights – Train spotlights on ponds and fountains to mimic the shimmer of moonlight.
  • Step lights – Line pond edges with step lights to provide soft, even lighting.
  • LED color changing lights – Use RGB LEDs to light fountains and water features in any color.
  • Backlighting – Uplights behind the water feature create a beautiful glow and silhouette.

Light Up House Exteriors and Facades

Extend garden lighting to your home’s exterior to showcase architecture and create curb appeal.

  • Floodlights – Use floodlights to brightly illuminate home exteriors, garages, and entryways.
  • Sconces – Mount architectural sconces on exterior walls to accentuate home details.
  • Porch lights – Update generic porch lights with attractive pendants or post-mounted fixtures.
  • Spotlights – Train spotlights onto architectural focal points like dormers, gables, columns, etc.
  • ** LED step lights** – Place LED step lights on risers leading to entryways and porches.

Get Creative With DIY Options

For one-of-a-kind lighting effects, try these creative DIY garden lighting ideas on a budget.

  • Mason jars – Create hanging lights by wiring mason jars with LED or candlelight. Add handles.
  • Painted jars – Spray paint clear glass jars and add solar-powered LEDs for colorful accent lights.
  • Bottle lights – Insert string lights into empty glass bottles and place them along garden beds and paths.
  • Tea lights – Line pathways and steps with clever tea light holders like cheese graters, shells and galvanized buckets.
  • Solar lanterns – Make cutout lanterns from tin cans, attach handles, and insert solar lights.

Choosing Garden Lighting

When selecting fixtures and bulbs, keep these tips in mind:

  • Lumens – Check the lumens, not watts, to determine brightness. At least 400-600 lumens is ideal.
  • Color temperature – Pick warm white light around 2700K to 3000K to accent planting beds.
  • Bulb shape – Opt for bulbs that focus light downwards, like candelabra or PAR bulbs. Avoid glare.
  • Fixture materials – Choose weather-resistant materials like aluminum, copper, composite woods, and synthetics.
  • Power source – Hardwired, solar and low-voltage lights all have pros and cons to consider.

Safety Tips for Garden Lighting

Take these precautions when installing and using garden lights:

  • Keep fixtures on a GFCI protected circuit for electrical safety outside.
  • Direct lights downward to avoid glare issues and light pollution.
  • Position accent lights carefully to avoid creating tripping hazards.
  • Use only outdoor-rated cords and outlet covers.
  • Check that all wiring is buried at proper depths to avoid damage.


The right garden lighting can completely transform how your landscape looks and functions after dusk. With so many attractive options from subtle spotlights to standout LEDs, you can craft a unique nighttime oasis that puts your plants and garden features in the limelight. Just take care to choose fixtures suited to the task, and always put safety first when wiring and installing your new garden lights. With a thoughtful lighting plan and these tips, your plants and garden features are sure to shine long after the sun goes down.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good lighting options for small gardens?

For small gardens, opt for solar path lights, small post lights and spotlights, strings of hanging Edison bulbs, and creative DIY solutions like mason jar and bottle lights. Avoid over-lighting a small space.

What kind of lighting should be used to spotlight specific plants?

To highlight individual plants, bushes and trees, use narrow-beam spotlights or bullet lights positioned at the base and aimed at the foliage. You can also uplit specific plants from below using well-placed uplighting.

How bright should garden lighting be?

Aim for garden lighting to be inviting but subtle, not overly bright. To simply accent key features and provide visibility for paths, 400-600 total lumens per square meter is ideal. Brighter security floodlights should be limited to entryways.

What type of lighting works best to illuminate driveways and parking areas?

To brightly light driveways and garden parking areas, opt for powerful and energy-efficient LED floodlights in a daylight or cool white tone mounted on posts or exterior walls.

Are solar lights a good choice for garden lighting?

Solar lights are affordable and easy to install without wiring, making them great to quickly add supplemental lighting along paths and beds. Look for quality fixtures with brighter LEDs and larger solar panels.