The Do's and Don'ts of Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting for your home adds dramatic highlights, enhances the architecture and landscaping, and sets a tone for welcoming guests. Creating the perfect lighting scheme takes industry knowledge and experience, but even the pros are guided by a list of Do’s and Don’ts when they to create a successful lighting plan. Here are some tips to help you get your landscape lighting right the first time.



  • Hire a professional lighting designer, not just an electrician. Even if you plan on installing the lighting yourself, you need a plan from someone experienced in the placement and choices of your lighting. Lighting just the trees on your property is not lighting design.

  • Use LED lights, now an industry standard and available in many colors. They are safer as they give off less heat. They also last longer and are environmentally-friendly.

  • Pick warm-toned LEDs. Cool tones can make landscaping look less vibrant.

  • Layer lights using path lights, sconces and well lights. Use three-watt bulbs, not expensive colored bulbs, to light different features, like a red bush, a beige palm and a white column individually.

  • Use down lighting on pathways to make them easier to see and safer to navigate.

  • Use a quality brand of lighting fixtures made of strong materials (like heavy brass) to withstand the rigors of Southwest Florida’s weather. Choose the fixtures from one line—you shouldn’t mix and match pieces from different manufacturers. Get a recommendation from your lighting designer.

  • Choose fixtures complementary to your architectural style. Black fixtures make a dramatic statement, white shows up well against a dark background, and metallics, like bronze, work well with earth tones.

  • Pick front door fixtures that are big enough for the scale of your house. For one light, make it roughly one third of the door’s height. For a pair of lights, use those that are one quarter the door’s height. 


  • Don’t overdo your lighting. You aren’t lighting a theater stage. Small fixtures with low wattage bulbs are better than many with overly bright bulbs. Less is more.

  • Don’t shine lights directly on your house. Filter everything through landscaping, creating shadows for dramatic effect.

  • Don’t string lights in a “daisy chain”. The lights closer to the power source will be brightest and the outlying lights will fade out.

  • Don’t cover wires with mulch. Bury all wires and cords underground so you don’t have a mower accident and have to replace the wires.

  • Don’t use solar lighting. The technology needs more development time.

  • Don’t light the upper story of your house using lights in the eaves and in the surrounding trees. Make sure you use low voltage lights for a softer, prettier look and a pleasing ambient glow on the lawn.

  • Don’t rely on the contractor-installed lighting, such as existing garage lights, to be your entire  lighting scheme. Left as is, they can be too bright and wash out any other lighting you install. Put all contractor-installed lighting on dimmers, so you can tone down the Broadway effect.

At Lightscapes, a lighting professional will come to your house, walk the property with you, discuss your needs and help you create a lighting design that will enhance the beauty and value of your home. Such an expert is worth the investment.

2023 Imperial Circle, Naples, FL 34110