Which Landscape Design Elements Are First to be Lit?

Outdoor lighting serves multiple purposes. Its four primary functions are: beautification, usability, safety, and security. From our decades of experience, we find that lit objects and areas are most often prioritized by these four landscape lighting objectives which are further influenced by factors including homeowner preference, the amount of use an area receives, and the level of need for safety.

We took a brief survey of our team, asking what homeowners tend to want lit up first, and what installment projects they see most. Here are our results.

1. Gardens

Landscape Design Ideas

Homeowners take great pride in their flower—and even vegetable—gardens, which is why “gardens” takes the No. 1 spot for the landscape design element most requested to be illuminated. A lot of care and preparation goes into perfecting a garden and flower beds, so homeowners tend to want to be able to enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of their labor day and night. Because most of what is planted is seasonal, homeowners are even more anxious to soak in every colorful moment they can with their garden.

2. Hardscapes: Patios, & Decks

Landscape Design Ideas

Hardscaping is an umbrella term that refers to man-made features, like stone walls or paved paths, integrated into landscape design and architecture. Pond structures, patios, decks, walkways, retaining walls, outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, fire pits, pergolas, planting beds, and other rock formations all fall under the category of hardscaping. The two hardscapes that are most commonly first to be illuminated by landscape lighting are patios and decks. This makes perfect sense as patios and decks are prime outdoor entertainment areas. Because these areas are also made of stone, many homeowners want to ensure their family and guests are safe while navigating these spaces. In order to make these outdoor living spaces fun, safe, and usable at night, outdoor lighting is the go-to solution.

3. Pools

Landscape pool lighting

Our third most popular landscape design element to light is the pool and its deck area. Similar to patios and decks, the pool is a major entertaining space and focal point within a landscape design. Adding a pool to your property is a significant investment, so it makes sense to take it one step further and to add landscape lighting. Outdoor lighting helps show it off at night and also ensures that it can be used no matter the hour—and safely.

4. Outdoor Kitchens

With outdoor living still one of the most popular landscape design trends, it’s no surprise that adding landscape lighting to outdoor kitchens has landed itself among one of the top spots for most requested landscape design element to be lit. If you need to cook, you need to see! And with the addition of an outdoor kitchen, homeowners will no doubt be spending significantly more time outside during summer nights, grilling and entertaining, making the need for proper and adequate outdoor lighting a must.

5. Ponds & Water Features

Ponds & Water Features

Water features—waterfalls, foundations, ponds, water gardens—are often viewed as the crown jewel of landscape design. So naturally, water features become a focal point in a landscape lighting design concept; and thus, ponds and water features have made our list of the most popular landscape lighting design elements that are lit.

Water features are generally integrated into a landscape for two reasons: The first is based on pure practicality—a solution to noise pollution such as street traffic or noisy neighbors. The second is to add that desired element of peace and tranquility through the sound and visual beauty an aquascape.   

6. Gazebos

Gazebos make wonderful additions to a backyard or garden. And while they are not typically the first choice to be lit, when the budget allows, they look stunning illuminated at night. By adding outdoor lighting to this area, it provides another area to sit, relax, or entertain guests, especially at large social gatherings, where gazebos can act as a quieter place to retreat to, or an overflow are for large crowds.

7. Recreational Areas

While most recreational areas—such as tennis or basketball courts—are enjoyed during daylight hours, sometimes you just get that itch to play at night. Any recreational area on an estate, if used at night, should be adequately lit. Or, if the homeowner wants an accurate representation of the estate in evening hours, it’s expected that the recreational spaces are lit, too. During sweltering summer days, sometimes it’s just too hot to play under the sun, and a night game is the only option. That’s where outdoor lighting shines.

After Sunset

lighting After Sunset

As you can see, there is a lot that goes on after dark on most properties, and homeowners want to take advantage of their outdoor living space as much as possible during nice nights. From outdoor kitchens, patios, and decks to pools, water features, and other recreational areas, homeowners are quick to beautify their space while making it more safe, usable, and secure for their family and guests.