If you’ve ever been to a luxury resort, you know that there is nothing quite as relaxing or beautiful as a moonlit swim in the pool or dinner under the soft lights out on the patio. Even though you can’t live at a resort, you can bring part of the resort experience home with you. With the right lighting, you can create resort-style living in your own backyard, perfect for having a romantic date night with your partner or for hosting a party for your friends. 

How to Create a Backyard Lighting Design

It’s a good idea to plan out your design before you start buying your light fixtures. When deciding how to set up your backyard lighting, you should first determine which areas you want to highlight. The following are some areas to think about including:

  • Swimming pools
  • Spas or hot tubs 
  • Landscaping
  • Water features such as waterfalls 
  • Fire pits
  • Pergolas, patios, and decks
  • Outdoor kitchens
  • Seating areas

Adding lights to different features in your backyard can enhance the natural beauty of your property while also providing a safer environment, making sure that guests can see paths, walkways, and steps in the dark. Once you have decided what specific areas you want lit, you can think about various types of lighting and where each would work best.


One of the more popular types of lighting to use in the backyard is moonlighting, which mimics the effects of natural light from the moon, creating a relaxing atmosphere while also providing enough light to see, which enhances safety. By placing hidden light fixtures in the trees to shine down on the area you want to highlight, moonlighting adds drama and whimsy to your landscaping. Moonlighting over your pool can be especially effective, making it sparkle at night. 

Directional Lighting

Directional lighting, including both uplights and downlights, can be used to achieve different goals. If you want to highlight a particularly beautiful tree or plant or certain structures like pergolas, an outdoor kitchen, or a water feature, uplighting is a great choice because light angled upward will create a soft, welcoming glow and interesting shadows. Outdoor seating or dining areas generally do better with downlights, which is out-of-the-way lighting from above that provides a steady glow without any wires or fixtures to trip over.

Mistakes to Avoid

There are a few common mistakes that you want to avoid when adding resort style to your backyard. 

  • Lack of privacy – too much direct light in one area, for instance around a hot tub or spa, can draw unwanted focus. Instead, creatively light the landscaping surrounding the hot tub or spa to get the effect you want while still protecting your privacy. 
  • Not enough light – don’t sacrifice safety for aesthetics. It’s important to provide light for areas that could be dangerous in the dark, especially around the pool or stairs.
  • Hot spots – when uplighting a waterfall or a tree you might be tempted to use one, big spotlight to really showcase that feature, but it will likely create a hot spot in your yard instead, standing out like a sore thumb. As an alternative, if you combine uplighting with soft lights in surrounding rocks or landscaping your chosen feature will become one part of a beautiful scene.

We Can Help You Transform Your Backyard Today

Adding the right lighting to your backyard can completely transform your home, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor space not just during the day but deep into the evening as well, no matter the season. There is a lot to consider when it comes to planning the location and types of lighting, and we can help. At Houston Lightscapes, we have years of experience helping customers just like you achieve resort-style living right in their own backyards. For your convenience, we offer free consultations where we walk your property with you, listen to your vision, and create a customized proposal. In addition, we also provide maintenance options to ensure the safety and functionality of your new lighting system. Don’t wait to bring your dreams to life. Call us today at (713) 461-3600 for your free consultation.

The team at Houston Lightscapes takes pride in their many years of experience in the landscape lighting industry. They've been serving the greater Houston area for over 30 years bringing innovation and elegance to their designs. Learn more about Houston Lightscapes here.