Top 12 Tips For Lighting Up Your Patio Or Deck After Dark

Updated May 26, 2023

Outdoor lighting Patio & Deck after dark

Whether you enjoy summer barbeques, entertaining guests by your pool or just relaxing on the deck after dark, you’ll want an outdoor lighting system that can create just the right ambiance for your specific needs.

The outdoor lighting experts at Nite Time Décor Oakville have put together our top 12 patio and deck lighting design tips and ideas to help you make your outdoor living space feel like an extension of your home.

Planning your Outdoor Lighting Design

When it comes to creating a lighting design for your backyard patio or deck, it’s always best to think through what exactly you want to do on your deck or patio. Is it mostly for entertaining or for your own enjoyment? Do you enjoy eating meals on the patio, reading at night, or just having relaxed conversations? What do you need light for? What effect do you want the lighting to create? Once you know how you use the space, decisions on how to illuminate it will be much easier.

You always want to measure twice, cut once as the saying goes. It’s no fun to come up with this grand design and then have to backtrack on things because it’s not what you needed or won’t work in that space.

Some aspects of your patio are simply functional, and some features just look nice. Balancing both is important!

Always Keep Safety A Priority

Do you have walkways or stairs that require additional lighting at night? Any steeper slopes that you or your guests need to be able to navigate at night? Any posts or pillars, doors or other obstacles that should be highlighted? Pools or ponds? Don’t compromise on safety.

Do you need task lighting? This will be brighter lighting to do work by, but you may not need it to be on all the time. Consider a light to cook by at night by the bbq, or a light for the shed or back gate.

The market for outdoor lighting continues to grow and many fixtures provide adequate safety lighting without sacrificing aesthetics.

Use Outdoor Lighting Accent Your Patio’s Best Features

Top 12 Tips For Lighting Up Your Patio Or Deck After Dark

What structural or architectural aspects of your deck or patio are you most proud of? Why let those details remain hidden after dark? Think back to when you first bought your home. What made you fall in love with it? Was it the textured façade? The pillars? The gazebo? The many levels to the deck?

Highlighting these unique architectural features will help add character and depth to your outdoor illumination design.

 Gazebo Lighting Ideas

As with any outdoor lighting system, lighting the perimeter of your gazebo is all about accenting the right features. When you’re conceptualizing your gazebo lighting, decide what sections of the gazebo’s structure you want to highlight. Looking for some inspiration? Then surf over to our gallery page and check out some of our recent work.

Moon Lighting Tips for gazebo and your landscape lighting

Think about up lighting versus down lighting when planning your exterior illumination. Down lighting has the benefit of also illuminating the interior, as well as the exterior. Our product page has a variety of lighting options to peruse when adding gazebo lighting to your outdoor lighting design.

Don’t forget to light the pathways and entrances to your gazebo. You want to make sure that your guests don’t trip on the way to your gathering. These can easily be incorporated into your outdoor lighting design and will help improve safety as well as ambiance.

When Lighting Your Patio, Consider What’s Around It As Well

When planning a lighting design for your patio or deck, make sure to look at what landscaping elements are nearby. Is there a beautiful garden that would create a warm and inviting ambiance if illuminated? Is there a tree that would serve as a spectacular focal point if string lights were hung from the branches?

Highlighting these elements not only allow you to show off all the hard work you’ve put into landscaping your property, it also adds an additional layer of depth and character to your patio lighting design.

Patio al fresco dining lighting ideas Nite Time Decor

Romantic Al Fresco Feasts

Take your main evening activities into account when brainstorming ideas for your outdoor lighting system. If lingering over a fine meal is your idea of a great evening, then bring the indoors outside with attractive hanging lamps or a chandelier. A small hanging fixture designed for outdoor use can provide a romantic bistro-style setting. A larger pendant light attached to a solid patio cover or an overhead pergola beam will add soft down light for a larger table arrangement and create a grand dining experience for the outdoors. A fixture that includes a fan can add a nice breeze for your guests on the more sultry summer nights.

If a more indirect lighting option is preferred, consider the addition of recessed spot lighting combined with a dimmer switch. These can be installed within solid patio covers or attached to pergola beams and enclosed in weatherproof casing.

Add a Tropical Touch

Much like the hypnotic glow of a log fire, an arrangement of our Nite Time Decor Tiki lamps can add a warm down-lighting effect that will transport you and your guests to a romantic and relaxing cottage setting.

Tiki lamps are really fun because they add the sense of real flickering flames rather than artificial light. Placed strategically around your yard or patio, they produce gorgeous natural shadows. This simple addition to an outdoor lighting system is relatively easy to maintain.

You could also purchase torch lamps from your local hardware store. These cheaper products are a good option for those who want the ambience but don’t have the budget to install professional landscape lighting.

Patio firepit backyard lighting ideas

Choose Fixtures That Are As Unique As Your Patio

Once you’ve determined what you need the outdoor lights to do (and it’s OK if “looks great” is its only function), identified fun architectural elements, task lighting needs as well as safety concerns, now it’s time to really look at fixtures and ambiance! This is where the art comes into your outdoor lighting design.

The small, well-thought-out details will add personality, intimacy, and even a little bling (if that’s what you’re looking for) to your deck or patio! Task lighting, underlighting (think benches, railings or stair treads), and movable fixtures are all small detail elements that can have a big impact on the overall mood and ambiance of your space.

Rope Lights Combine Flexibility And Aesthetics

Rope lights are versatile and with proper installation are weather-proof so you can leave them up all year long. We love these for under small overhangs like steps or the edge of a deck, bench or railing. The trend is to hide the light fixture so a deck offers many grooves and nooks to install rope lights. LED lights are available in a variety of colours so if you’re having a themed party you can add some sparkle to the patio with these.

A close cousin of rope lights are string lights. These are fun and easy to install, they’re portable, and often fairly affordable for even a one-time use for that special party. You can also get solar-powered string lights so you can place them and forget about them for the whole season (make sure you get waterproof, rated for outdoors, string lights).

String lights are available in a variety of shapes, lengths, and price points so whether you’re looking for something for Halloween (ghosts, jack-o-lanterns) or Christmas lights or just romantic, you should be able to find what you’re looking for. We think these are a fun way to brighten your deck without making a years-long commitment. 

Mimic Moonlight From Nearby Trees

Moonlight for outdoor lighting is a popular landscape design feature is to add spotlights high up in a tree so the light filters down through the leaves. This muted light can add a romantic feel to the landscape with light filtering down onto your deck or patio through the waving leaves. This type of light casts a wide path, but doesn’t have to be harsh or glaring.

Moonlight techniques are subtle, elegant and creates a beautiful ambiance around your yard and patio. The goal for well-designed landscape illumination should be to try to mimic moonlight, not the ambiance of a night-time game at Rogers Centre.

Be Sure To Match The Existing Décor And Aesthetics

Thoughtfully consider what the existing features and aesthetics are and work with them. The result will extend your living space outdoors seamlessly and add value and appeal to your patio or deck.

Outside of structural elements that often won’t change much or at all, you can use outdoor lighting to create specific aesthetics or a kind of ambiance with the thoughtful selection of fixtures to create ethereal, natural, or dramatic chic (as examples) effects.

Knowing what type of atmosphere you want and need will definitely influence your choices and ultimately create an effect you’ll love for years to come.

Dramatic chic

If you’ve decided on dramatic chic, there are a couple of techniques to keep in mind. Under illumination is one method that will create an urban, stylish feel.

To use this technique on your patio, choose colours to accent your patio—optimally colours you have in your garden. Then, pick the features of your patio that you want to under light. The best options are usually the patio itself, permanent furniture, or even gazebos and ponds. Once you’ve done that, position your Nite Time Décor fixtures underneath the chosen features so that the entire base is washed in a soft glow.

Under lights provides added safety as well as aesthetics. By highlighting the bases of fixtures, you’re showing your guests where there are potential trip hazards.

Ethereal Elegance

Want your patio or deck to have an enchanted magical feel possibly with fairies hiding in the shadows or playing among the foliage? Small pinpricks or lights hidden within foliage (gardens, planters, hanging pots, etc) produce the appearance of a magical gathering within. Use this technique throughout your yard to extend the suspension of disbelief in your enchanted garden paradise.

Lighting Where Feet Tread Creates Subtle Ambiance

Outdoor Lighting patio, pathways and stairs for safety and aesthetics

A continuing trend in outdoor lighting are fixtures that are low to the ground or recessed flush with a deck or walkway. This light isn’t so strong that guests are blinded, but by hiding the recessed lights among foliage or along the outside edge of stair treads, you create a pop of unexpected light shining all the attention on the texture, colour and shadows, or even something as basic as to highlight the safety aspects of your deck.

Get Started Today

Illumination solutions from Nite Time Decor will beautify and highlight any backyard patio or deck! Create a look that’s as unique as you and your home that you’ll love for years to come! Why not extend your living space outdoors? Contact our outdoor lighting professionals today for more information or to book an appointment!

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