Light It Up

Learn about uplighting, pathlighting and other ways a few shining bulbs can make your outdoor space look great.

Mar 2013


Creative Outdoor Lighting used uplighting to brighten this home and accent its façade at night.  

 We talked to Gary Loyd, owner of The Light House Gallery (417-889-1088,, Brian Ranft, owner of Creative Outdoor Lighting (417-882-0214, and Shawn Roberts, owner of Nightworks Lighting (417-882-7305, to learn a few tips on installing outdoor lighting.  

 Types of Lighting Glossary

Uplighting: This is where light is applied to the desired space from the ground up. This can be especially useful when lighting up flowerbeds, trees or the exterior of the home at night. —Gary Loyd

Downlighting: This is similar to uplighting, except the light source is pointed toward the ground. This feature works well in a covered patio or pergola and can also add security when installed near doorways. —Gary Loyd

Pathlighting: Most pathlights spread light over a specified area like a walkway. When you’re lighting a path you don’t have to light the entire area, small pools of light are more than adequate.—Brian Ranft

Tricks of the Trade

Plan Ahead. The key to installing a good lighting job is to plan lighting when the house is still in the building process. This way, you can plan for outlets and wiring without having to rip through walls or pay for pricey installation projections. —Gary Loyd

Consider Placement. You don’t want any lights shining in people’s eyes when they’re enjoying your outdoor space, so try to bring light from directly above or below seated eye level.- —Brian Ranft

Use LED Lighting. I wouldn’t consider using any outdoor lighting system that wasn’t LED. LED lights use 80 percent less energy and last 50 times longer, and like halogen lights, LEDs cast the same golden glow. It’s a common misconception that LED equals cold, blue light. —Shawn Roberts

Paint With Light. To help make your home more inviting, use lighting just as you would use paint. By placing lighting in the right areas, you can accent a garden bed or patio and make the outside of your home just as inviting as the inside. —Gary Loyd

Pick Focal Points.  Shining light on statues, trees or other features can help give your eyes something to focus on when looking at the backyard. Don’t try to light up everything—it’s better to pick a few focal points. —Brian Ranft

Plan for Repairs. When hiring a contractor to install lights, you want to make sure they can also do maintenance on those lights and follow up if there is ever any trouble. —Shawn Roberts

More lighting tips

Lighting is just like music—if it was all sound and no rests or spaces it would be overwhelming, and just like how music can change the mood of a room, so can lighting. —Brian Ranft

Set the Mood. Moon lighting can be great for directing light down—it’s one of my favorite techniques. Shine light through trees or through latticework to help break up the light and create the effect of moonlight. —Brian Ranft

Don’t Skimp. Lighting is the least expensive way to change the appearance of a home, but it’s like buying a car. You can buy a junker, or you can buy a Rolls-Royce. Be sure you are spending your dollars wisely, and get something that will last and truly make a difference. —Gary Loyd

Pick a Focal Point. When trying to decide what to light, first and foremost, pick out things that are interesting in terms of architecture or shape. Often, objects that have an interesting shape look better when light is used to silhouette the object rather than having light thrown on it directly. – Shawn Roberts

Consider Viewpoints. One of the biggest mistakes people make is no putting enough light on an object they want to light up, use twice as many lights as you think you need. For instance, you might see a tree from three or four different angles, so you need enough light to light up the whole feature. – Shawn Roberts

Choose a View. When lighting up the backyard think about what you want to see while sitting inside your house.– Shawn Roberts

•Make it 3-D. If you’re lighting your house, always pick one or two things that are away from the house like a tree or bush, and light them as well. That will give a 3-dimensional effect. If you only light the front of the house it flattens the profile. – Shawn Roberts