Things to Consider when Creating Outdoor Lighting Effects

When creating an outdoor oasis several factors must be taken into consideration. Of course you want to make sure the outdoor furniture fits the space, greenery is perfectly manicured and that you incorporate lighting. Since there are a variety of outdoor lighting options, you need to consider what effect you want in your space. For example, are you going for a relaxed or festive environment or something that can transition between the two? While constructing your lighting concept you should reflect on these three effects: moonlighting, shadowing and silhouetting. Let’s take a look at these different methods and how to incorporate them for your ideal outdoor living space.

Moonlighting This image is courtesy of MOONLIGHTING

We can all agree there is nothing like the luminous glow from the moon. Capture the radiance of the moon using the moonlighting effect.  Choosing large trees, no less than 30 feet, place lights within the inner branches. For a dimmer effect, lights should be situated high in the tree and more towards the trunk. This creates a softer, more relaxed light.

If you’re interested in adding a bit of brightness, simply mount the lights near the ground in thick branches on the edge of your tree.  To best create the moonlighting effect you should focus on choosing light fixtures that direct light downward, such as landscape bullet lights. Due to their shape, the fixtures help to eliminate any glare that may be caused by the light.

Shadowing This photo is courtesy of SHADOWING

Maybe you were taught never to play with your food, but playing with light is a completely different matter. Shadowing is all about generating a playful dynamic between light and darkness. This method can be used with different objects in your front or backyard. For example, if you have a gorgeous fountain, a beautiful statue or even a fascinating tree you can use shadowing. Focus light towards the base or bottom of the object you’re interested in illuminating. Light should focus upwards, which will brighten your object from the bottom to the top. Outdoor lanterns work great for up lighting since they allow light be cast skywards, particularly those lanterns with a smaller shade. Once you’ve washed the object with light, direct it towards a fence or wall in your backyard to create an incredible shadowed effect. 


Although it’s common to put the words shadow and silhouette in the same category, when it comes to landscape lighting these two are quite different.  While shadowing focuses on wall washing to create large shadows, silhouetting is about outlines.  To generate a silhouette, simply place a spotlight directly behind the object you wish to feature. Keep the light focused on an adjoining wall to create a luminous outline of the object. You’ll want to use this method for shorter or heavier shrubbery, such as plants or smaller trees.