3 Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Your Backyard

string lights in backyard

Darkness shouldn’t put a damper on backyard activities like swimming, barbeque or lounging. By installing backyard lighting, you can keep the party going long after dusk, boost outdoor ambiance, and protect your property from unseen threats.

The three main types of backyard illumination are safety lighting to deter prowlers and improve navigation, landscape lighting to accentuate garden features, and accent lighting to put the focus on the hardscape. Ultimately, you’d want all three types in your backyard to achieve different lighting levels for different needs—and within each of these categories, there’s a variety of lighting choices. So let us shine a light on the best backyard illumination options, so you’ll know what to put in your outdoor space.

Security Lighting

Security lighting, generally the brightest backyard lighting, is safety lighting to illuminate large areas and scare off would-be burglars or destructive animals. Powered by standard, 120-Volt current, this lighting is installed high spots such as the eaves or above a garage to cast wide beams of light down onto main walkways or the backyard fence entrance.

Your best bet for security is motion-sensing floodlights that mount to the surface of exterior siding or walls and contain two- or three-bulb housing units that go on only when built-in sensors detect movement in the area. Their intense light exposes prowlers and may fool them into thinking you’re home and on alert even if you’re not.

Our Pick for Security Lights: Available in black or white, Ring’s floodlight (available at Amazon ) is weather resistant and can be connected to a Ring doorbell, other Ring lights, and even Amazon Alexa. Its two optical LED lights produce a powerful 2000 lumens to light up your landscape as bright as day, and it can detect motion from up to 70 feet away.

Path Lighting

Path lighting is soft to moderately bright safety and landscape lighting designed to help you navigate walkways while attractively highlighting them. Install it on the ground along both sides of main walkways from the back door to your fence door, along stepping stones from the main walkway to a backyard feature like a fountain, and/or around flower beds to emphasize their contours.

Path lighting is often available in low-voltage (12- to 15-V) and solar LED options consisting of a decorative bulb housing unit attached to a short stake you drive into the ground. If you choose low-voltage path lights , you’ll need to use a transformer to reduce the 120-volt house current to 12 volts; energy-saving solar versions, meanwhile, require no extra wires. Even if your walkways are shaded, these lights will stay bright for several hours after dusk, thanks to a solar rechargeable battery or remote solar panel you station somewhere else in the yard that gets direct sun.

Our Pick for Path Lights: With a stainless steel finish and cylindrical panes, this elegant 6-pack of solar path lights by Signature Garden (available at Amazon) earns high ratings from Amazon shoppers. The lights’ water resistance is another draw, along with their LED bulbs, auto on/off power, and crystalline solar panel. Emitting a warm white light, they are also super easy to install.

String Lighting

String lighting is soft, low-voltage accent lighting used to evoke a warm, intimate ambiance that’s especially desirable for entertaining. Hang string lights wherever the activity is—be it on the eaves of the home to brighten an outdoor kitchen or from the posts of an outdoor pavilion or gazebo to illuminate patio furniture.

Look for waterproof, rechargeable, traditional battery-powered or solar-powered outdoor string lights (which usually come with a remote solar panel), preferably those with long-lasting LED bulbs. Such lights avoid the need for running extension cords across the yard, enable lighting in far corners of the yard without electrical outlets, and ensure that lights stay on safely even if spattered with rain.

Our Pick for String Lights: Hang 48 feet of Brightech Ambience Pro waterproof string lights over your patio table or under a pergola to lounge in the warm white glow of 15 indoor-outdoor bulbs (available at Amazon). Not only are these Edison-style bulbs stylish in a retro way, but they are also energy-efficient! These LEDs will last longer than your average incandescent options and won’t cost as much to use over that long lifetime.