How To Create Dramatic Landscape Lighting Effects

LightsWood How To Create Dramatic Landscape Lighting EffectsI’m Helen Reed from Let’s Tend The Garden, a new gardening blogger! Creating dramatic landscape lighting effects can be considered as a form of art. The reason for this is; it takes a considerate effort to bring out the piece of beauty. With lighting effects, you can create an outdoor design that will make you want to sit outside all night.

Below are some of the different ways to create dramatic landscape lighting effects.


Moonlighting is one of the most common ways to create a dramatic landscape effect. This method is common because it is quite simple. To use this technique, you need trees to be in your surroundings. The trees need to be very tall to create the best effect. What you have to do is to put lights high on these trees. You can use any type of light so far it will be able to stay on the tree without any problem.

When the light is in the tree, it will create some beautiful effect on the ground. Again, when the wind blows softly, you will find that the pattern of the light will change. Lest we forget, the reason this technique is called ‘moonlighting’ is because it copies the moonlight. Why? Because the moon also lights up the earth at night from the sky.


Next on the list is the silhouetting technique. This is another relatively easy option. To create this effect, you will place your light around objects or prominent features. The light will then project the shape of these features at night. To explain better; let’s assume you have sculptures or fountains in your yard. All you have to do is to place the lights strategically around them in such a way that it will bring out the sculpture’s shape as design. Perhaps obviously, you need to select what viewing angle you are trying to enhance, e.g., do you want to focus on the view from your patio, or your living room, or the street?

A bi-pin halogen bulb with a mirrored background is the type of light that best suits silhouetting.


To use the Up-lighting technique, you need low-voltage light fixtures with halogen or LED bulbs. All you need to do is to place them under a tree and let the light face upwards. When you do this, the light will create a shadow of the tree’s trunk hereby giving you a great lighting effect.

If you want to capture the whole tree with its leaves and branches, you need to place the lights about 10 feet away from the base of the tree. Personally, we prefer placing the light at a distance from the tree as it creates a more beautiful effect.


Grazing involves giving using light to give attention to a beautiful stone design or wall design of yours. When you want to use this technique, you will need to spread lights strategically across the walls you want to highlight. The lights may face upwards or downwards depending on what angle you feel creates shadows that best capture the unique texture or features of the wall. You can use the silhouetting technique with this grazing effect to bring out a truly wonderful piece of art.

Back Lighting

Backlighting is another lighting technique that is similar to the silhouetting technique. To have this option, you need landscape features through which light can reflect. When you shine the light towards this type of feature, it creates a new perspective on the artistry – you will be able to show off your artistic designs even after the sun is down.

Cross Lighting

Cross Lighting is one of our favourite ways to create dramatic lighting effects. This effect creates amazing shadow effects if you know what you are doing. It is also similar to silhouetting but this time, you will be shining the light on the feature from two sides. You can adjust the light from different angles to give you the perfect dramatic effect you need.

Under Water Lighting

You can also place light fixtures in water to create amazing lighting effects. It is advisable to go for LED lights as they are brighter than most types of light. When you place any light underwater, you will find that it creates a beautiful effect on walls and ceilings when the water moves.

For example, when the breeze blows on the water or when fishes or animals play in the water, it will create a ripple effect on walls and ceilings. You can also choose to go for lights with different colours to create a more beautiful lighting effect. Note that you can use your pool, fountain or any water body around to achieve this effect.

Lighting The Path

Adding lighting for the practical purpose of creating a safe walking path and be also be done in such a way that it will create an amazing lighting effect. All you need to do is to make sure you position the lights strategically to give it an aesthetic look and a calming and romantic feel. To achieve this result, the lights you use should not be very bright. You can refer to some useful information about lighting the path from Let’s Tend The Garden.

Remember, your first objective here is safety so make sure to position the pathway lights so highlight obstacles and create the proper sense of direction.


Spotlighting is another simple way of creating a lighting effect. This technique only requires you to place lights on special features like flags or statues. What this does is to place attention on these highlighted features. Besides, it takes no special effort and you can spotlight as many features as you want.


Shadowing is another technique for landscapes with beautiful fixtures and amazing details. Ensure the fixtures you want to project are close to a wall. Now, get a bright light and place it on the floor and make it face upwards. After doing this, you will see the light cast a shadow of the fixture on the wall behind it. This way, you would have created a really dramatic landscape lighting effect.

Also, make sure you try shining the light on the fixtures from different angles and height. This way, you will get the best angle for creating this shadowing effect.

Tips On How To Get The Best Out Of Landscape Lighting Effects

Below are some of the ways to ensure that your landscape lighting effect yields great results.


One way to enjoy your lighting effects more is to make sure you use automated lights. Automated lights can either have sensors or timers. There are light sensors and motion sensors. Motion sensors work in such a way that the light turns on itself when it senses movement. Sensors can also work in such a way that the lights’ brightness will increase when it senses movements. Light sensors work by turning on and off when it is dusk and dawn respectively.

Also, timers help you preset the number of hours the light will be on for. The purpose of using automated lights is to eliminate the aggravation of having to turn the light on and off manually. Automated lights also have security advantages. They can help create an illusion that you are home even when you are not.

Positioning Of The Lights

One mistake you can make when beautifying your surroundings with lighting effects is by forgetting that the lights might affect your indoors in ways you don’t want. Make sure you carefully choose the position of the lights to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Importantly, make sure the lights do not directly shine on your windows as this will be a disaster for you inside.


Now that you have seen the various ways to create dramatic landscape lighting effects, we hope you will try it for your landscape. Remember that you might not get it right the first time. This shouldn’t discourage you from trying again because you will get better by trying different lighting techniques.

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