9 Uplighting Techniques to Illuminate Your House and Landscape

A thoughtful lighting plan can give your home a whole new look after dark. Learn the best lighting options for each property feature and tips for installation.
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Maintain curb appeal after dusk with a thoughtful outdoor lighting plan for your home and garden. Using upward-facing lights can illuminate the front of the house, accentuating special architectural features. It can also add a glow to the entire property, including the landscaping and trees. Uplights in the backyard will add depth and ambiance, perfect for gatherings or dining alfresco. Besides looking good, outdoor lighting will deter trespassers and offer added safety when using the property at night.

Though there are specialists who can help, most outdoor lighting is low-voltage, which makes it safe to DIY the job. For higher voltage and hardwiring, seek help from an electrician. Read on to learn more about lighting options and get tips for installation.

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Low-Voltage Systems

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This weekend project won’t require too much elbow grease. The most involved steps include digging to run the wire beneath the ground and using a wire connector tool to connect the fixture to the source. Low-voltage outdoor lighting consists of a transformer that plugs into a nearby GFCI-protected outlet to reduce a 120-volt current to 12 volts. The cable carries the current between the transformer and the fixture. The wire connector is used to connect the cable and the light fixtures.

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Solar Lights

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Solar options are an excellent alternative for those who don’t want to bother with wires. Though they won’t offer the same brightness level as 12-volt options, they’ll undoubtedly add ambiance. Consider mixing in some solar lights with traditional lighting to save on electricity. For instance, solar well lights are perfect for small gardens. For uplighting on the house, consider these spotlights—a favorite in our researched guide to the best outdoor solar lights.

RELATED: The Best Places to Install Solar Lights in Your Outdoor Space

Which Bulbs to Choose

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The bulb used in the fixture will determine the brightness, color, coverage, and electricity use. LEDs are a great option for landscape lighting since they’ll last years and won’t use nearly as much electricity as halogen bulbs. They may cost more initially, but that investment will pay out in the long run. If the goal is a soft illumination, opt for a warm white glow. Try these bulbs by Cree at Amazon, which can be set to the owner’s preferred brightness.

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Illuminate the Home’s Facade

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Consider the best architectural details of the home and use them as a focal point for the lighting plan. The front entrance is a great option since it makes the house look more welcoming and provides added security. Consider using one main spotlight complemented by some softer secondary ones.

Bullet or wash lights are ideal for lighting the exterior. A bullet is a compact fixture useful for precisely lighting specific home features, whereas wash lights cast a softer, wider light. Well lights are a type of spotlight concealed in the ground, providing uplighting onto the home. For larger homes, flood lights will cast a wider beam. This outdoor wall light at Amazon is a favorite in our researched guide to the best outdoor wall lights. It uplights the façade while offering a modern exterior accent.

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Accentuate Trees

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Trees can be imposing and scary in the dark, but a little creative landscape lighting will accentuate their daytime beauty. Placing a fixture at the base of a tree to light it from underneath will highlight the organic shapes of branches and leaves. Be sure to illuminate the trunk as well, and keep the color soft so it doesn’t detract from the natural forms. A well, bullet, or floodlight should work well for lighting trees. Get started with this 6 pack of well lights at Amazon—the top pick for well lights in our researched guide to the best low-voltage landscape lighting.

Get a Glowing Garden

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Lighting a garden after dusk can show off its best features in a new way. Even simple shrubbery will look special. Instead of illuminating the entire garden, choose a few features to highlight and space out lights evenly and with plenty of room between each. For uplighting bushes and plants, use well lights or spotlights like these at Amazon—another favorite in our researched guide to the best low-voltage landscape lighting.

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Light Up Fences and Garden Walls

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Illuminating a property fence will not only look attractive, but it will add security to the home. For long fences, create a dramatic look with upward-facing lights like spot or well lights spread around the perimeter. Place them along the fence line evenly for a cohesive look. Try these spotlights at Amazon—a recommended pick in our best outdoor lighting ideas for your yard.

Brighten Pathways and Steps

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Lighting pathways and steps is an essential safety measure that adds to evening curb appeal. Place bullet lights on either side of the base of the stairs to create an upward glow onto short stairways. For pathways, stagger them along the way to avoid the runway look. A motion sensor option is a great choice here. Try this LED light at Amazon—a top selection in our guide to the best outdoor motion sensor lights.

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Dramatic Patio Lighting

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For a softer glow, accentuate features around the patio instead of directly on a seating area to avoid glare while creating soft shadows. Complement string lights like this set—a top pick in our researched guide for the best string lights, by placing landscape lights beneath nearby trees and in garden beds.