Types of Backyard Lights

When it comes to backyard lights there are plenty of options and styles available. To help you decide which type and style will ultimately be the best for your yard and your specific lighting design it is important to define the main reasons you want to add backyard lighting.



Once you define what you want from your outdoor lights and you have an design idea you can start to choose the specific types that will help you achieve your outdoor lighting goals. For the best results, it’s important to effectively combine form and function.

Types of Backyard Lights

Choosing the right type of backyard lights to fit your needs and the layout of your yard will make all the difference in the overall look and feel of your finished project. For specific lighting ideas read Backyard Lighting Ideas.

Outdoor Solar Lights
Solar Lights

Solar Lights

Outdoor solar lights are becoming increasingly popular because of their low operating and installation cost. They are the easiest type to install because they don’t need to be wired to a power source; instead they collect and use energy from the sun. They are available in a variety of styles including path, post, security, landscaping, string and decorative solar lights to name just a few.

Use some simple lighting tips to make sure you get the look you want.

String Lights

Put simply string lights are a row of lights connected to a power cord. Christmas lights are the most common type, but there are many other styles that look completely different. Globe or lantern string lights are quite popular but you can find them in a variety of themes. They are a great style of backyard lighting for a party.

Rope Lights

Rope lights are somewhat similar to string lights except that the light itself is enclosed in a translucent tube. Rope lights can be used to line areas like stairways or they can be tucked under a structure (like a railing) so the rope itself isn’t actually seen, only the glow of the light is seen.

Step Lights
Outdoor Step Lights

Outdoor Step Lights

Step or stair lights are most commonly used to light stairways so they are easier to see in the dark. But step lights can also be used to light a stone path through a yard or garden. Either way they can create a nice look when used well.

Walkway Lights

Walkway lights or path lights are used to illuminate walkways in your yard, but they can also be used along a driveway or as garden or landscape lights. Most styles are on a short post, but you can also find paver walkway lights that are flush with the walkway.

Paver Lights
Paver Path Lights

Paver Path Lights

Pavers are lights that are mounted in the ground often flush with the surface they are lighting. Paver lighting can be used to light walkways, driveways, patios and sometimes stairs. They are typically installed in the brick or stone of these surfaces and spaced to create a nice outdoor lighting design without over lighting the area.

Wall Lights

As the name implies wall lights are mounted to a wall to help illuminate an area. They are often used near an entryway, a garage, a shed or by the patio or deck for increased functionality and security of those areas at night. They are available in styles ranging from utilitarian to decorative and as motion sensor lights.

Post Lights

Post lights can refer to a couple different types of fixtures. They can be set on the top of posts like bollard lights or lamp posts or they can be post cap lights used on the top of deck posts for deck lighting. Shorter post lights can line an area like a walkway while taller post lights can be used as a general lighting source for an area of the yard.

Patio Umbrella Lights
Umbrella Lights

Umbrella Lights

There are a couple of styles of patio umbrella lights available. One style looks somewhat like string lighting lining the arms on the underside of the umbrella, the other style is a single or double light that clips on to the upper part of the umbrella pole. They offer a nice, warm glow for using your patio table at night.

Floodlights & Spotlights

When used for the home floodlights can be wall mounted and used for security purposes, or like spotlights, they can be used as landscape lighting. Both styles can be used to light trees and create shadow effects or they can be used in trees to light areas below.

In-Ground Lights
In-Ground Lights

In-Ground Lights

Paver lights are one style of in ground lighting, but there are other styles, like bullet lights, that can be used directly in the grass, garden or other landscaped areas. They can be used for a variety of landscape lighting techniques including uplighting, which directs light upwards to accent trees or other landscaping creating a distinct effect.

Under Water Lights

Under water lights are designed to be used in or around water. Submersible lights can create a great look when used in a backyard water feature like a pond or a fountain.

Outdoor Decorative Lights

Some outdoor lights are decorative, some are illuminating and some are both. You can find garden lights in the shape of a variety of things including flower lights, butterfly or dragonfly lights and rock lights. Some of them are used to bring life to an area at night and some are camouflaged to look like an outdoor feature while also functioning as a light.

If you feel overwhelmed about the variety of backyard lights available you may want to simply start with the basics and move forward from there. You can always blend additional backyard lighting, especially decorative outdoor lighting later.

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