Types of Landscape Lighting: Uplights, Path Lights & Other Common Fixtures

Posted by Joe Mouad on Jan 11, 2024 9:45:00 AM

Your yard is dark and gloomy. You want it bright and welcoming.

Add a few lights, right? Sounds simple enough.

Uplights? Downlights? Path lights? Well lights? Step lights? Wall wash lights?

Um, yes?

What are all these different types of landscape lighting?

Let’s shed some light on it.

The Right Light for the Right Spot

Low-voltage landscape lighting serves a variety of purposes, from practical lighting to boost your home security (bye, burglars) to lovely lighting effects that beautify your landscaping at night.

Your landscape lighting does a lot out there. That takes a bunch of different types of outdoor lighting.

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Outdoor lighting should help you and your visitors make your way to entrances after dark. It should help you safely enjoy your deck, pool, or patio.

It should also knock your socks off, highlighting the best elements of your landscaping and making your home look magical and high end after dark.

It’s super important to install the right lighting for the right purpose, from hard-working landscape uplights and landscape path lights to fun stuff like string lights and moonlighting.

Here’s a look at the major players:

Landscape Uplights: Trees, Please

Uplights do what they say they do — they shed light up at a landscaping feature from below.

Uplighting is fantastic for trees. If you have an amazing Sylvester Date Palm with that distinctive diamond-cut trunk, it’s a crime not to light it. But even ordinary trees suddenly look special at night when landscape uplights highlight their trunks and canopies.

paver patio string lighting seating lounge chairs palm trees 3

Uplighting is flexible, too. Skilled lighting designers can tweak the effects to best show off each tree.

Tall trees like palms, magnolia, and oaks all get the same type of uplighting, with MR-16 bulbs that shine light from the ground up. But these lights come in various widths and wattages to allow for flexibility so each tree can get just the right effect.

Shorter palms and shrubs might get a landscape uplighting fixture that has a mirror to help scatter the light all over to highlight their texture.

Uplighting is great for illuminating statues and fountains in your landscaping, too.

Pro tip: Uplighting trees from below makes a stunning impact, but large plants or shrubs at the base of the tree can obscure the light. Pros know to put the light fixtures on risers so they clear the foliage.

Low-Voltage Landscape Lighting: Downlighting

Downlighting, as you’ve probably guessed, shines light down on landscaping from above.

Lighting fixtures might be installed in the branches of a tree or beneath the eaves on your house. The higher the light, the wider the space it illuminates.

It’s great for landscaping beds, highlighting the huge exotic leaves of your Xanadu Philodendron, your frilly and fabulous Chinese Fringe Flower, your vivid blue clusters of Lily of the Nile.

Landscape Path Lights for Safety

Path lights aim the light down and to the side of the fixture, lighting up paths and walkways for both safety and appeal.


The fixtures are important here, because they’re visible as visitors stroll up to your front door. Choose quality fixtures you love that complement your home’s architecture.

Well Lights

Think lights in the ground, like a well. Well lights are installed so the majority of the fixture is below ground level.

Well lights are great for lighting things when the light beam needs to start very close to the ground.

Paver Driveway, Retaining Wall, Landscape Lighting 2

Think about those impressive architectural columns on your front porch. Or your beautiful Japanese maple. Tuck a well light right at the base of the trunk, then get ready to gasp when the light highlights those amazing lacy leaves. Instant after-dark art.

Well lights are also handy in areas where pedestrians or vehicles need to pass over them.

Wall Wash Lights

Wall washers won’t do any scrubbing for you— this type of outdoor lighting offers even illumination over a wide surface.

Highlight the intricate brickwork of a garden wall, an outdoor fireplace or a large piece of outdoor art.

Step Lights

You can probably figure this one out.

Step lights illuminate your outdoor steps for safety.

Paver Walkway, Steps, Landscape Lighting 1

Worried that step lights will trip you? Don’t be. They tuck out of sight, flush to the back part of the step, adding just enough light to see where you’re going.

Undercap Lights

These tuck in beneath the tops of your built-in seating, casting light down onto the ground so everybody see where they’re walking.

String Lights

Instant party!

paver patio seating chairs string lighting plants

Install string lights over your patio or deck for a festive party atmosphere. (And they work great to illuminate a romantic dinner for two.)


This is cool. Moonlighting creates the soft glow of the moon with strategically placed landscape lighting high in the branches of trees.

Boom — a romantic moonlit glow. Plus, you get lovely dappled shadows that come from light filtering through leaves and branches.

You can’t always count on the real moon to illuminate your yard at night. Go ahead and fake it.

Combining Types of Landscape Lighting

Sometimes, it takes two. Think about your front entry. You want lighting that spills enough light to safely illuminate your way and highlight your front door without casting a glare.

That means a combination of tasteful floodlights from below and attractive lighting from above, working together for security and beauty.

Whatever Your Types of Landscape Lighting, Work with a Pro

Installing just the right fixtures and bulbs for each purpose takes expertise.

There’s a lot to this, from proper placement to avoiding glare to choosing just the right fixtures.

What about wattage? Too much wattage will just wash out your landscaping, but too little is a waste of money.

landscape designer and customer consultation walking 11

Is uplighting best for a certain spot? Or downlighting? How far away from the transformer can low-voltage landscape lighting fixtures be?

Pros know this stuff.

Choose a Central Florida landscape lighting company that goes beyond basic wiring and fixtures. They should know how to plan the right color temperature and expert placement so your yard looks subtly stunning, not garish and overdone.

You get the idea. Put a pro on the job.

Need Expert Landscape Lighting in Central Florida? Trust Ground Source

So many different types of outdoor lighting. But this isn’t like the neighborhood bakery, where you holler “I’ll take one of everything!” This landscape lighting stuff takes know-how.

And what if all this pondering is giving you even bigger ideas?

Maybe you could use a few more impressive trees and plants for that lighting to highlight. Wouldn’t a cute pergola be perfect all lit up with strings of sparkling lights?

Not all Central Florida landscape lighting companies are full-service landscaping experts. We can help you with the total package, from planning the design to installation to skillfully lighting it all so it wows after dark.

We make it easy. Start to finish. No hassles. Wait for the compliments.

We’re landscape lighting experts, and we'll be with you every step of the way as you plan your perfect outdoor space.

Sod, irrigation, landscape design: Let us transform your landscape from an embarrassing eyesore to a place you spend every spare minute.

Are you ready to enjoy the vibrant, impressive landscape you've always wanted? Request a quote today! We’ll help you review your options and then transform your property.

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