5 Kinds of Landscape Lighting to Get the Most Out of Your Landscape

5 Kinds of Landscape Lighting to Get the Most Out of Your Landscape

At Belknap Landscape, we have designed installed nearly every type of landscape feature and material available to property owners out there. There are many options for what to do in a landscape design, and each element has benefits that should be a determining factor in your landscape project. Unfortunately, sometimes benefits can be hard to quantify or understand if you’re unfamiliar with their advantages and variations. Landscape lighting is one such option.

Once you’ve decided to look into lighting, it’s helpful to know what your options are. Specifically what types of lighting exist and what they have to offer you. Below we’ll discuss the five most common varieties of landscape lighting we utilize to help familiarize you with this feature.


Up-lighting consists of casting light upwards, typically from the ground, and is generally used for aesthetic impact using spotlights or general flood style lights. The visual effects of up-lighting can be remarkable. This lighting creates dramatic shadows and highlights landscape and plants, often making your evening landscape as beautiful as it is in the daylight. In some instances, it may also provide some safety and security benefits.

It’s worth noting that up-lighting, in particular, contributes to light pollution, and its effects should be considered during design. In some cases, your homeowner’s association or municipality may forbid or limit the usage of up-lighting.


Down-lighting is similar to up-lighting in many ways except the direction in which the light is cast. Most commonly used to illuminate pathways or general outdoor space, this type of lighting adds significant safety and security benefits while making your outdoor spaces more usable at night. When installed correctly, down-lights are the easiest way to light large areas, such as a patio, lawn, or beach, with fewer fixtures.

The use of spotlights or shrouded features may significantly reduce the light pollution associated with these types of lights. Still, the design should take both your desired outcomes and your effect on neighbors into consideration.

Pathway Lighting

Pathway lights are typically lower to the ground than down-lighting features, and they cast light downward, to the side, or toward a specific direction. When installed correctly, they will illuminate your pathways without casting significant light beyond the immediate area. While this may only help with security marginally, it will significantly increase the usability and safety of paths and stairways on your property.

Pathway lighting is often used to make an outdoor space usable while still retaining the ambiance, privacy, and general feeling of being outdoors in the evening.

5 Kinds of Landscape Lighting to Get the Most Out of Your landscape

Built-in Lighting

Built-in lighting is achieved through the integration of a lighting fixture into a landscape feature. Commonly installed in vertical surfaces such as walls, stairways or steps, benches, waterfalls, water features, and more, this method of lighting is typically installed to illuminate a relatively small area. We’ve used these fixtures as pathway lights, accent lights, spotlights, and more. While they are subtle and their benefits can be limited, in the right circumstances, they are impactful.


As mentioned prior, spotlights can be used as up-lights, down-lights, pathway lights, and more. Still, they are most commonly used to light a landscape feature for aesthetic impact or to illuminate a limited space where other methods will not achieve the desired outcome. Spotlights tend to cast brighter, more focused light than general lighting, and this difference should be understood when these are being used.
While spotlights may help reduce light pollution, this is not always the case. In fact, because of the strength achieved when focusing light, reflections may eliminate this benefit.

Knowing the varieties of lighting available for your landscape is a significant step to getting the outcome you are looking for, but having help from a professional can make a big difference. As always, we are here to help you understand your options, design a lighting plan to suit your specific needs, and install your landscape lights to give you peace of mind. Give us a call at 603-528-2798 or email at info@belknaplandscape.com and we’ll be glad to help.