DIY Outdoor Lighting Design and Decor Ideas

When it comes to lighting your outdoor spaces, there’s several decisions to make. I’m going to share some ideas with you that I hope will make your project fun, and your self designed nightscape beautiful.

Properly lighting your outdoor spaces is probably the single most dramatic addition to your property you can make. Not only does it look beautiful to you but it really expands your evening living space. The curb appeal improves property values and safety comes with it.

Copper Lighting and Sculpture is your source for lightning  that illuminates at night but also decorates in the day. Embellishing your landscape and garden with sculptural pathway and area lights accomplishes both of these goals. 

Lighting fixtures that are not Made in America with American produced copper cost less and aren’t the same. Compare quantity as well as cost when purchasing lighting you would like to last a lifetime. 

If you are lighting your entire Landscape, your house is the main focal point. If you’re lighting a garden area, you don’t need to include the house in the design. Professional Lighting designers can be very helpful when it comes to up lights to enhance the house or tree lights to illuminate things such as driveways and lake shores. They are very knowledgeable about placement and light intensity. This doesn’t mean people without experience can’t manage this. It only takes a little more thought because there is wattage and  beam spread to consider. 

To complete your lighting plan you may find it requires up lights and tree lights (used for moonlighting.)  They are available through lighting distributors where you source a low voltage transformer and wire. Up lights and tree lights are not decorative and not meant to be seen. I don’t make them.

Begin your design by walking around your outdoor spaces. 

Keep in mind that you are adding decor to the garden or landscape. So if there is a bench, place a light by it. Tall decorative area lights work well here. If there’s seating under a tree, try using a hanging light to over-light the area with a large soft pool of light. Adding decor to create a “moment” can be simply placing small garden statuary (like those resin turtles, frogs and other creatures.) at the base of the path light. 

Notice areas with uneven surfaces, change of elevation, or just disappear when the sun sets. You don’t want to create hot spots with too much intensity. Subdued, mood lighting is the goal. Don’t light everything. It will look washed out. Dark areas are just as important as lighted areas. That’s what gives your design layers, depth, and intrigue. 

PATHS 

Paths and walkways definitely need to be lit. Most path lights give about a 16 foot diameter pool of light, so spacing the light fixtures at about that distance allows the light intensity to fade away before the next pool of light begins. Shadows on the walk are interesting and alluring. I make a custom lighted copper sculpture called the Primitive Oak Branch with a songbird for this purpose. It’s designed to stand next  to the walk, leaning away, casting shadows over the walkway. Contact me to discuss this option. Flag each place you designate for a light fixture. That way you can get an accurate count and make adjustments to your design. In your garden you can mix it up with our flora designed pathway lights. That is, you can change fixture styles from one area to the next, just like you did when you installed your plants. An example might be installing our Caladium in one area and the Mushrooms in another. Both path styles have complimentary Accent Lighting Fixtures that really pop. There’s the Triple Mushroom that could be used to grace the path entrance while single mushrooms light the way. And for the Pathway Caladium there’s the very decorative 38 inch tall area light, multi leafed,  Mini-Monarch Caladium fixture that draws endless

compliments and has a very large light pool. Selecting the style of your lighting fixtures is simply a personal preference. It might be a geometric style is your taste. Our cottage inspired Gothic Pathway light or Pyramid are great geometric choices for gardens and landscapes. Fortunately for you,  Copper Lighting and Sculpture offers design/build services. 

ENTRIES 

Entries are naturally a high traffic area. The driveway entrance to your property may be an area where some lighting will welcome your guests or denote your address. Custom designed lighted address signs are a great addition. If your driveway features entrance pillars, the addition of copper sculptural art is an over-the-top choice for topping off the pillar. 

The entrance to the house needs particular attention.  In addition to the entrance light, which could be a custom copper sconce or address sign, use an accent light near the entry. Make it decorative and interesting while providing ample light. This is the area that everyone notices as they arrive and leave your home. Look at our Accent Lighting Category. You don’t need the same styled fixture for your accent piece as the ones along the walk leading to the entrance.

STEPS 

Lighting steps is essential. Pathway Lighting can be placed along side them. If there’s just one or two steps, maybe a goose necked accent light will create that “moment”.

DECKS AND PATIO 

Decks and patios are areas that are used probably more than most outdoor spaces. They may be the ideal areas for you to design and light first. Decks are relatively straightforward. Mounting sconce to the deck posts provide the appropriate amount of light. Assuming your patio doesn’t have a roof, as it would with structure such as a pergola, try to use area lights around the perimeter. Area Lights spread the light further. Our area lights are Accent Lighting that is part of the decor. Our Tiki Touch provides low-voltage lighting and the warm ambiance of fire. So with Copper Lighting and Sculpture, when you are lighting your patio you are also decorating your home. Often electrical access is readily available in these areas. 

GAZEBOS, PERGOLAS, TRELLISES, TIKI 

These areas, having roofs, are ideal for hanging lights and pendants. They can be installed to over-light a table or provide a soft light throughout the entire space. Grouping hanging lights provides more light intensity for special spots and is a very decorative technique. With structures there are most often pillars, posts or even walls. These areas are ideal for mounting sconce. We can design sconce styled lighting to fit your posts precisely. The sconce can feature artwork torch-cut into it. Use your imagination and I will help you create something very special for these intimate areas. Vine covered archways are an ideal place for pendent and hanging lights. 

ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES 

The main architectural feature is the house. Others could be a split-rail fence, a decorative privacy fence, statuary, or fountain. Try to highlight your existing features. Leaf styled sconce are particularly beautiful mounted on a rail fence. Washing light on a privacy fence designates a boundary and provides ambient light. Some architectural features require low light levels from more than one fixture. To light statuary, for instance, use three low wattage flood lights to light it evenly all around. 

PONDS AND POOLS 

Ponds and waterfalls are often the highlight in a garden.  Underwater lighting, from my  experience, is high maintenance and becomes ineffective in a relatively short time. This is due to algae accumulation over the lens. I’ve never had an underwater light fixture that hasn’t developed a leak. While underlighting a waterfall is dazzling, the thrill fades when the algae build up covers the lens. The option for lighting the water is to place pathway lights next to the water’s edge. This creates reflective light off the water’s surface. And if you have fish they will be attacked to the light. At the waterfall area, try using a directional accent light that will focus attention on it. Copper Lighting and Sculpture has the Cattail Bouquet with three lights and three cattails. Standing over 40 inches tall it’s an impressive addition to your pond scape. 

Swimming pools are where good light is essential. Use taller fixtures around the perimeter. Several of our accent lights use multiple bulbs and provide lots of light while being very decorative. Our Tiki Torche is six feet tall with low-voltage LED and a fuel tank that holds almost a half gallon. It’s a great addition anywhere in the landscape from next to the patio to around the swimming pool.