Spending time in your backyard doesn’t have to be limited to the daytime.
The addition of lights to any size of outdoor space will allow you to entertain, relax and extend your enjoyment of the backyard.
Patio lights aren’t what they used to be, either. You can still opt for a set of simple string lights, but there are so many different patio lighting ideas to make the space uniquely yours.
Small areas like a balcony or porch benefit from lights; entertain often by lighting a dining area; or, shine a focus on your garden. Backyard lighting ideas are seemingly endless.
So let’s explore 21 patio lighting ideas that will make your backyard the talk of the neighborhood like:
- Permanent Lights.
- String Lights.
- Spot Lights.
- DIY Rope Lights.
- Pathway Lights.
- Step Lights.
- Floor Lights.
- Solar Lights.
- And more!
Fixed or Permanent Lights
The most common type of outdoor lights are those fixed lights that are typically mounted on a house or garage, usually at the entryway.
These sconces and other light fixtures are weatherproof, designed for the outdoors, and provide a measure of security and safety.
They can also be attractive, and chosen to suit different tastes, making them important to remember when you’re considering backyard and patio lighting ideas.
You can also add some outdoor post lights if you have the opportunity to design and choose your outdoor fixtures.
And if you’re looking for added security at a specific location, like your front entrance or back lane, then you can add sensor lights, which turn on when something (or someone) passes in front of the sensor.
String Your Lights
One of the most popular backyard lighting ideas remains string lights. The choices among string lights are endless, and at Christmas, it’s easy to change out the bulbs for a season-appropriate feel.
Cheap patio ideas abound in this space as well, since you can get string lights on a budget, and still provide a big impact. And, there are plenty of DIY patio ideas using string lights.
Here are a few:
String them across a dining area.
Run them over a sitting space
for a soft lighting option when you’re looking to relax.
String them over the yard
allowing you enough light to move about easily.
Wrap them around a railing, column, or both.
String them around a tree
at Christmas, or all year round.
String Lights over Firepit
Or run them along a privacy fence, ideal in a smaller yard or a balcony
Shine a Spotlight
The use of spotlights is powerful when it comes to highlighting areas of your yard, as well as for safety. They’re typically used in addition to other backyard lighting ideas.
For instance, a spotlight or flood light at the base of an outdoor feature like a large tree will highlight the tree, and also provide light to the surrounding area.
Or place a spotlight up in the tree and shine it down over a pathway or pond, making it appear like moonlight coming through the trees.
Point it at a Statue.
A spotlight can also be directed at a statue or other structure that you want to “show off.”
You can also use a spotlight behind a feature like a hedge, creating a silhouette for dramatic effect.
Rope ‘Em In
If you’re looking for DIY patio ideas, rope lights are among the easiest additions to the yard. As long as you have a power source, you can use rope lights any number of ways.
Rope lights are typically small light bulbs encased in a PVC jacket, and easy to wrap around structures or run along decks as a simple and effective band of lights. Rope lights will cast a wide glow across or along a space, rather than providing the single focal point of a spotlight. They won’t cast as much light as larger string lights, but they are effective in other ways.
For instance, the clear tubing around a rope light means it can blend into its surroundings in the daylight. They also provide a different type of highlight to the backyard. And, you can get them in different colors, or find those that blink in various patterns.
Use them along decks.
String lights on your pathway.
Wind them around a tree.
And you can even hide them, just like their indoor cousins that provide under-counter lighting.
Shine A Light On Steps
Adding lights to stairs is not only beautiful, it’s safe. Steps to and from a deck or patio can be lit with a variety of backyard lighting ideas.
If you have the opportunity to build the lights in when you’re building the deck or stairs, that’s ideal. But it’s not the only way to do it.
Add Solar lights to the steps.
Or, you can add lights to the railing, which will shine on the steps.
Light Up A Pathway
Don’t forget about paths, as they are another feature that should be lit to allow you to safely move through the yard. They can be wired, or be solar powered.
Path lighting helps illuminate flower beds too. One way to make it attractive is by alternating the light fixtures from one side of the path to the other. The light will shine evenly and still look natural, since the pools of light will show the way without lighting up the whole yard.
Pathlights can allow you to find your way to the garden seating area or firepit at night.
Lanterns Are A Big Hit, Even in a Small Space
Lanterns may seem like a small lighting choice, but they can pack a big punch. If you have a small balcony in the city, the amount of ambient light means you probably don’t need a lot of light to bring your space to life. Lanterns can give you a soft lighting addition to the area.
Lanterns in the balcony
On some balconies, there isn’t easy access to a plug in for lights. Lanterns are among the easiest DIY patio ideas, since you can buy them with lights, make them by adding string lights to an empty lantern, or place candles or flameless candles inside.
And, if you have a larger space but want to highlight a particular area, like a side table, lanterns will do the trick.
Soft Light Options
Lanterns are perfect for soft lighting. Another idea for adding a soft light to a table or side table is by using candles.
It’s best to use flameless candles, since they are safer than the real ones.
You can also opt for wall-mounted lanterns, with a low wattage light, which can highlight architectural features like a pergola or archway. Choose lanterns with translucent glass, as they have a diffused light finish without glare.
Floor Lamps Aren’t Just For Indoors
We’re used to using floor lamps to augment lighting indoors, whether that’s in living rooms or bedrooms. But a simple floor lamp can be used outdoors as well.
Choose a floor or table lamp that’s approved for outdoor use, allowing you to add a decorative accent or a focal point of light. A floor lamp may be enough to provide the lighting you want, or it can be used in conjunction with other patio lights.
A floor lamp also gives you the option of using it – or not. You can easily turn it off for a darker atmosphere, like when dinner is finished and you want some chill time.
Or it can highlight a side table, or one where you play board games in the evenings.
Bring More of the Indoors to the Outdoors
If you’re wondering, How do you light a covered patio? – there are options beyond string lights. How about another typically indoor lighting fixture, like a chandelier.
This stunning addition hung over a table will not only bring light to the space, it will bring a touch of class. A chandelier also allows you to choose the decor finish that best suits you and your outdoor space, from formal to funky.
Use the Sun
Yes, the sun can expand your list of patio lighting ideas. If you’re wondering – How do you light a patio without electricity? The answer is with solar powered patio lights.
These are also useful in areas where you just don’t have a plug in, like the middle of a patio, where you want your dining table.
Or near the firepit, or to light a path.
By using solar power, you can expand your ability to provide lighting throughout your backyard, deck, and patio.
Porches are Special
Many of our backyard lighting ideas can be used on a porch, including floor lamps, lights wrapped around the railing, and string lights.
But there are some other special touches that can be added to a porch.
If you have a porch swing, use lights to highlight it as a centerpiece of the space.
If your porch is a quiet spot to relax, then something as simple as fairy lights tucked into mason jars can provide a soft accent to your porch.
Porch Ceiling Fan Lights
A ceiling fan with a light is also ideal on a porch, since its proximity to the house’s electrical box makes it relatively easy to wire into the porch ceiling. The fan will help with air movement, especially on hot, sticky summer evenings. And the light provides additional illumination to the space.
When you’re installing your lighting, always follow the recommended wattage that is listed on the fixture, and you need to use bulbs that are labeled for outdoor use. The best wattage is around 80W. This will still provide illumination, but a brighter bulb may cause glare and discomfort when you’re sitting in the space. When it comes to pathways and garden beds, you can opt for a smaller wattage like 40W.
Fire Pit Lighting
One of the most popular lighting options for a firepit is string lights, since they’re an easy addition. String them from an existing pergola, or build wooden posts and use those. You’ll need to ensure a power source exists in this part of the yard, or you can choose solar powered lights.
If you’re still designing your fire pit and plan to build one in, you can build in lights at the same time.
We’ve already talked about rope lights, which can be a novelty if they blink, or in a color other than white.
But there are other novelty lights that can be a conversation piece.
A funky floodlight that serves as a laser of lights will shine little beams of light all over a structure or yard, creating a colored strobe effect.
Purchase solar lights that make the area look like a snow globe.
Or simply add in a funny string of lights to your existing string, or hang a few new ones when you’re holding an outdoor party.
Ban The Bugs
If you live in a climate with bugs, you may want to choose accent lighting that will help the situation. Citronella lighting can be attractive and functional.
In a seating area, citronella candles can be dressed up as a cheap patio idea that also serves a purpose.
At the fire pit, Tiki torches are fun and functional, giving you light while also keeping pesky mosquitoes at bay.
You can also purchase large citronella candle sticks
Try changing out the bulb in your wall-mounted light for a yellow bulb. While they aren’t proven to keep all insects away, a yellow or orange bulb does appear to be the least attractive to bugs.
And all this talk about insects may lead you to wonder if LED lights attract bugs?- While any kind of light has the potential to attract bugs, an LED light produces little to no ultraviolet light, and they produce almost no heat, making them less attractive to bugs and the best ones for your patio.
Sum and Substance
When the weather is warm, we love to extend our outdoor time by staying out late. Even in cooler temperatures in the winter, a fire and a hot chocolate in the backyard is a real treat.
Patio lights and other backyard lighting ideas mean your backyard, balcony or porch can be used at any time of day or night.
From safety and security to walking the dog, to wandering out to the fire pit, and from string lights to solar lights to ceiling fans on the porch, our 15 patio lighting ideas will make your backyard one to love, 24 hours a day, 12 months of the year.
About The Author
Ardith Stephanson has a journalism degree and spent years having fun as a sports writer for a national newspaper. She has also worked in communications and marketing, ran a successful communications business, and is a national award-winner. These days, she prefers to focus solely on writing, and to spend a lot of time in her backyard, where her garden, the firepit, local birds and her bee barn keep her busy and entertained. She writes about her adventures at theardizan.com