Patio and Courtyard Lighting Ideas that Captivate

Patios and courtyards can become their own enclave of ideas with outdoor lighting.  With the right balance and the proper technique, you can create a dazzling scene that will captivate your guests no matter how much room you have to work with.  These areas are natural gathering points that are exempt from many of the stylistic confines of the rest of the property. It is here that you have a captive audience with the most room to explore your creativity.

Patio and Courtyard Lighting IdeasPatio string lights can cast a natural warmth over any gathering spot. Installed with a dimmer you can light the way to the focal point of a summer backyard party or tone things down to cast a light over an intimate table for two. One secret to enhancing the beauty of this lights is to install vintage or tungsten filament bulbs. These bulbs provide a warmer color of light with a filament that can fill almost the entire bulb.

Moon Lighting Ideas

Patio and Courtyard Lighting IdeasMoon lighting refers to a fixture mounted from above that shines down over a walkway, patio or seating area. For most types of outdoor lighting, the warm color of a halogen bulb best showcases most plants, hardscapes and architecture. For moon lighting effect, however, when furnished with a “cool white” LED bulb (5000-6000k) the slight blue tint gives the effect of a glorified moonlight. This type of fixture should be mounted heigh enough so that your attention is not drawn to the fixture but to the subtle lighting effect it provides. Typically this lighting effect will either cover the entire patio or courtyard or will highlight a table, fire pit or another seating area. Installing a switch gives the homeowner, even more, control over how this type of lighting effects the space.

Sconce Lights Ideas

Patio and Courtyard Lighting IdeasSconce lights are mounted to a wall or column and typically have two light sources. Most often light is directed upward and downward from a single fixture. These fixtures offer a dual benefit in that the light that is cast downward can be very functional in the setting of a patio or courtyard by illuminating walkways and seating areas. Large posts on gazebos and other shade structures are ideal for mounting sconce lights. A little planning goes a long was in wiring low voltage sconce lights. During construction, wires can be run inside hollow posts, behind stone veneers, or covered with wooden planks over a 4 x 4 post. Post construction an extra long wood or masonry drill bit can go a long way to mounting your sconce lights in the ideal location.

Down Lighting Ideas

Patio and Courtyard Lighting Ideas

Unlike moon lighting which concentrates on lighting the ground, down lighting is meant to illuminate an object on its way to the ground whether it be a peak, tree trunk, or brick wall. The light hitting the ground is only a secondary benefit to this technique. Because this method focuses on illuminating an object within the space, a warm white (2700-3000k) LED will typically be used to match the other objects illuminated on the space.

Colored Bulbs

Patio and Courtyard Lighting IdeasThe use of colored light is most commonly available in Red, green, blue, amber or RGB. RGB refers to LEDs that use a combination of red green and blue at different light levels to create nearly any hue in the color spectrum. Colors can be a challenging technique to incorporate into a lighting design but can also create an instant focal piece when done correctly. Colors work especially well with fountains and statues. In my experience, the color amber tends to maintain the most natural look and feel within a space and works especially well with objects made of stone, tile, bronze or copper that already have a yellow/red hue to them.

Water Feature Lighting Ideas

Patio and Courtyard Lighting IdeasWater features offer a plethora of opportunities to showcase lighting within a space such as a patio or courtyard. Underwater fixtures typically consist of underwater spotlights or underwater spread lights. Spotlights create a beam of light that can be directed on an underwater focal point or can shine out of the water to illuminate a waterfall or backdrop of a water feature. An underwater spread lights give a 360° spread of light around the fixture. Spread lights do a good job reflecting the movement of moving water on to any walls around the water feature. Integrated underwater LED fixtures can be particularly more reliable than older models of underwater fixtures or underwater fixtures with removable bulbs. Fixtures with built in LED light sources that are not accessible tend to be waterproofed better that fixtures with accessible bulbs.

LED Ribbon Lighting Ideas

Ribbon lights are a newer product made possible by the advancement of LED technology. Available in warm white, cool white, RGB and a number of solid colors, ribbon lights can be cut to almost any size. Installing these types of lights can prove to be challenging and often requires using a waterproof product that must be soldered and powered by its own DC transformer and other controllers. The results, however, can be well worth the labor it takes to get there. Ribbon lights can be used under planters and steps, to backlight artwork or other architecture and just about anywhere else you can think.

We hope these lighting ideas inspire creativity that can add warmth and beauty to your own patio or courtyard. This article is written by David Bilik of Twilight Designs, a landscape lighting company in Las Vegas Nevada. For more landscape lighting ideas visit