Lighting designers are an important part of the design equation when embarking on a new custom home project, making certain the home is lit in all the right places, for all seasons and all occasions. Lighting plans for interior spaces are generally included in the initial planning and building phase, to ensure proper wiring and access meets design needs. While it is not critical to think through desired exterior lighting needs as early in the building process, it should be an integral part of the overall landscaping plan, designed as a complement and extension to the home and the family’s lifestyle.

In the process of designing the exterior lighting plan, it is important to consider the following factors: desired aesthetics, areas of regular use and access, security and safety. Additionally, when lighting larger properties, homeowners should work closely with lighting experts to design a centrally located control center that allows for maximum versatility, adapting to changing needs depending on season and utility.

Types of exterior lighting to include in landscaping plans:


Lighting fixtures outside home entry points can be practically subdued, serving only a utilitarian purpose, or provide a decorative element tying into the architectural element of the home. As with interior fixtures, there is such a vast range of options to light the entryway with an infusion of personality, along with adjacent porches and seating areas. Decorative lighting also extends to landscape enhancement, to highlight features of the property “glowing” at night. Strategically placing ambient cans to uplight trees, decorative shrubs or other unique landscaping features at night adds a magical setting for the home.

Walkways and Paths:

Walkways to the home entrances, as well as any other frequented pathways on the property, should include lighting for practical safety reasons. Here again the options are limitless, from decorative fixtures to adorn the pathways to practical, recessed lighting that is nearly invisible by day. Solar powered lighting options are both common and practical today, automatically providing a soft glow at night without any additional energy costs. With walkways to entrances, or even long drives, decorative lanterns add character to the approach and offer an opportunity to tie into the home’s architecture and exterior light fixtures.


When it comes to security lighting, motion-detecting lighting is a practical solution, eliminating the need and cost for exterior entryway lights to be burning throughout the night. These can be installed by entrances to the home and garage, or on pathways leading to other parts of the property, providing safe passage for spontaneous late night walks, as well as providing additional security for residents entering a dark home at night, triggered only when needed. They have the dual-purpose lighting on command, after a late night of walking up from the lake, alerting residents to unexpected (or unwanted) guests on their property, even in the form of pesky deer looking to ravage a garden.

Check out some of the creative ways homeowners have added dimension to their landscaping with lighting, both decorative and utilitarian, in our Pinterest link: