How To Strategically Light a Deck or Patio

If you have a deck or patio, it would be more attractive if the area is well-lighted and has a strategic lighting design that creates a magical effect when lighted. Your lighting design need not be expensive and can be designed both for aesthetics and for safety purposes.

You can install permanent, movable or optional lighting fixtures. Your fixtures can be the traditional wall-mount type, solar lights or a combination of varying kinds of lights that can create a surreal ambiance. The choice of lighting fixtures and where to position the lights will depend on your lighting design.

Here are some lighting styles and the effect it creates to strategically light a deck or patio:

Rail Lighting

  • Plain or colored string or individual lights can be placed under a deck handrail to shine downward and create a lighted patio boundary.
  • Weave a string of white pin lights on top, through and around the rails of your deck to create a beautiful deck glow.

Step Lighting

  • Install fixtures on posts, under railings, or embed lights into the steps to provide lighting for the safe navigation of your deck steps.
  • Step lighting provides a soft light glow that can mark a pathway and provide lighting design to your patio.
  • Lights can be installed in different colors and can be programmed to change colors automatically to create a mood altering effect.

Fountain Lighting

  • Fountain lights can be an added feature for patios with water landscapes or fountains to maximize the use of water reflectivity on patio lights.
  • Floodlights, underwater lights, solar garden lights, and colored lights can be installed to accentuate the water features of a patio.


  • Shadowing highlights the unique shapes and figures in a patio’s landscape or garden, like sculptures and tree branches.
  • A light is focused on an object, plant or tree lining a wall or against another background, to create a shadow.

Ground level lighting

  • Lights can be installed in and around planted shrubs or low plants around the patio area.
  • Dimmers are recommended to be added to ground level lights so you can control the light intensity and mood of the place. With a dimmer control, the lights can be turned up and down depending on the brightness of the moonlight.

Moon Lighting or Down lighting

  • Place deck or patio lights up on posts or in a position where the light shines down through branches of trees to create a moonlight effect.
  • Down lighting can increase the areas security and give the impression that there is someone home when the lights are on.
  • Use spotlights and floodlights to create a moonlight effect. The floodlights can illuminate the whole deck while the spotlights can focus on entryways and stairways.
  • Spotlights can be used to accentuate features like plants, fountains, eating and cooking areas.
  • As an added security feature, the light circuit can be connected to your doorbell switch to turn on the lights when the doorbell is switched on.

Decorative lighting

  • Install tiki torches or hurricane lamps around your patio.
  • Look for glass votive candles from a craft store. Each unscented candle can be placed on your patio, deck, tables and railings.
  • To keep bugs away, look for citronella candles in ceramic bowls or beautiful glass containers.

In strategically lighting your deck or patio, keep in mind the purpose of creating an ambiance that can encourage guests to gather and socialize in your patio and provide proper lighting.


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