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The Best Places to Install Solar Lights in Your Outdoor Space

Jan 31, 2024

Before deciding what landscape lights to purchase, figure out which parts of your property you want to light. From illuminating a pathway to highlighting a water feature to providing nuanced lighting for a driveway, there are numerous places where a little lighting can have a dramatic impact on a home's safety and nocturnal curbside appeal.

While lighting a path or walk is one of the most popular ways to add landscape lighting, avoid the temptation to evenly space lights on either side of the walk unless you’re planning on landing planes in your front yard. Instead, create a more interesting look by staggering the spacing between the lights so they light different sections of the walk and integrate into the shrubs and flowers, creating a more natural look.

Related: The Best Solar Flood Lights for Illuminating Outdoor Spaces

If you’ve ever seen a movie that ends with the main character riding off into the sunset, then you may appreciate the aesthetic power of the silhouette. To create this striking look, place a spotlight between a landscaping feature, such as an ornamental tree and the light-colored facade of a home. The backlit tree's dark silhouette will stand out against the light background of the house.

Since you’ll need to tuck the light between a structure and the landscaping feature, you’ll need a solar light kit that works well in this setting. This set of Aponu spotlights (available on Amazon) allows you to set the solar cell in a place that receives ample sunlight.

Shadows can add drama and interest to your home while also highlighting a prized landscaping element. Place a spotlight in front of an interesting ornamental landscaping feature such as a Japanese maple or tall grasses to cast interesting shadows on the front of your home. To create larger shadows and a more dramatic effect, the light needs to be close to the base of the feature and aimed upwards at a steep angle.

Attach downlighting above the garage door or doors to create large pools of light on the driveway. This type of lighting effect can be created with lights such as these mountable spotlights (available on Amazon). The result is a nuanced look that's more subtle and less glaring than standard floodlights, while also providing functional lighting for nighttime visibility and security around the garage.

Related: The Best Solar Gutter Lights for Outdoor Lighting You Never Knew You Needed

Add the effect of a full moon to the landscaping on your property even on overcast nights by mounting spotlights above your property. Mount the lights to the trunks of medium- to large-sized trees and direct them to shine downward. The light will cast a glow on the lawn and walkway below, creating a moon glow effect. To add even more interest, hang the lights so that they shine through tree branches and other foliage, creating interesting shadows on the ground below.

Low angle shots in the film world make a character feel more imposing or a structure seem grander. You can accomplish the latter with your home by adding a spotlight to the base of its facade and directing it upward. For best results in creating a grandiose feel, position the spotlight close to the wall's facade at a steep upward angle to create a large pool of light against the broad surface of the facade.

Accent lighting is an excellent way to highlight a statue, sculpture, or another yard ornament. Set up a spotlight a few feet in front of the object to illuminate it at night. For taller pieces, place a light near the base and hit it with uplighting for a dramatic look.

Related: The Best Solar Post Cap Lights

Pathway lights aren't just for lighting walks. They’re also ideal for illuminating flower beds. Look for pathway lights that are taller than the plants in the bed, such as this set (available on Amazon). They should cast light downward, creating soft pools of light that bring the flowers to life at night.

Turn a pond or fountain into a dazzling nighttime oasis with a little lighting by installing small spotlights that illuminate the moving water. By adding submersible solar-powered lights, such as this set (available on Amazon), you can add lighting to a water feature without having to worry about the danger of having high-voltage wiring near the water.

Take patio and deck lighting beyond the standard porchlight by mounting solar lights to the trunks of nearby trees. The light shining downward will add subtle mood lighting to an evening soiree on the deck. To ensure that a party can last long into the evening, the solar cell powering the lights needs to be positioned so it receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight during the daytime.

In addition to being an integral part of improving a home's nighttime curb appeal, outdoor lighting also is helpful for making your property safe for family and visitors at night. With this in mind, make the steps leading up to the front door safer by installing lights in the risers of each stair. Riser lights, such as this set of six (available on Amazon), create a soft glow that illuminates each tread to make traversing them at night safer.

Install string lights, such as this solar-powered set (available on Amazon), to add cafe-style ambiance to a deck or patio. While there are a variety of shapes available, string lights with Edison bulbs add a vintage look. String them through a pergola's rafters or from tree to tree, then position the solar cell in a place that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

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Related: The Best Solar Flood Lights for Illuminating Outdoor Spaces Related: The Best Solar Gutter Lights for Outdoor Lighting You Never Knew You Needed Related: The Best Solar Post Cap Lights