Outdoor Lighting Ideas: Your Complete Guide

You have spent a great deal of time designing and decorating your outdoor space, selecting everything from the perfect outdoor structure to the right furniture to set within your outdoor living or dining room. Outdoor lighting can enhance your outdoor space, creating a more intimate and safe experience. The following guide highlights various outdoor lighting ideas and how to use each lighting option to maximize the use of your outdoor area.

Accent and Decorative Lighting in a Space

Lighting can add the right amount of ambiance to your outdoor setting, transforming a space at night into the ultimate entertainment space.

Before assessing the various outdoor lighting options, make sure that you have enough exterior outlets to power your ambient lighting. Running extension cords through a window to power a light can significantly decrease the effects desired from outdoor lighting. Additionally, you will want to ensure that all your exterior outlets have a weatherproof box and a ground-fault circuit interrupter (commonly referred to as a GFCI).

Lighting as an Architectural Fixture

Today's outdoor spaces are as elaborate and well-dressed as interior rooms. Similar to indoors, lighting should work with the structure of a space to create flow and ambiance. If you have a gazebo or pergola in your backyard, use lighting accents in tandem with these structures to illuminate your outdoor room. If you’ve created a dedicated dining area under that pergola, consider using pendant lighting or a chandelier to amplify your space.

Safety and Security Lighting

Lighting your outdoor space is not only for aesthetic purposes— it’s also essential to the safety and security of your outdoor area. Safety lighting, such as deck lighting and walkway lighting, is ideal for accident prevention. Security lighting usually includes flood lights and is incorporated for maintaining a secure perimeter on your property and preventing intruders from entering your home.

Fortunately, neither of these options have to stand out from the overall look and style you are trying to create in your outdoor space. Lantern-style walkway lights in a hat, mushroom, or pagoda style and pot lights in outdoor steps (pictured above) add character to your space.

For security lighting, make sure that you get a motion-sensitive light and use it to illuminate dark corners, not flood out your main outdoor space with light.

Outdoor Lighting Ideas

The following table maps out some of the most common applications related to outdoor lighting, which fixture to use, and where to place it.



Lighting Fixture

Safety & Security

Side of House

Dark Corners

Walkways and Pathways

Flood Lights

Path Lights

Accent & Decorative

Pergola Beam

Porch Rail



Wall Lights


Flush-mount Lights

Pendant Lights

String Lights

Landscape Lights





Walkway Lights

Well Lights


Deck Lights

Do you have your own outdoor lighting ideas or tips on combining form and functionality to enhance your outdoor living space? Let us know in the comments below.

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