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Light It Up: 7 Elegant Ways to Illuminate a Landscape

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Light It Up: 7 Elegant Ways to Illuminate a Landscape

May 2, 2018

Outdoor lighting should be dramatic without being overly theatrical. To create elegant illumination in a landscape, consider all the tools at your disposal—from stairway riser lights to underwater spotlights, to hanging cage lanterns (which can remind you of a candlelit-chandelier, hanging above a dining table).

For inspiration, we’ve rounded up seven of our favorite landscapes with stylish—and unexpected—outdoor lighting solutions, many suggested by members of our curated Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory.

Fence-Mounted Sconces

In a small courtyard garden in Manhattan&#8\2\17;s East Village, designed by Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory member Harrison Green, fence-mounted lanterns create a candlelight effect at dusk.
Above: In a small courtyard garden in Manhattan’s East Village, designed by Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory member Harrison Green, fence-mounted lanterns create a candlelight effect at dusk.

See more from Harrison Green at Garden Designer Visit: A Manhattan Terrace with Panoramic Central Park Views.

Similar in appearance to Virginia creeper, Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) has leaves that can be hard to identify because the vine&#8\2\17;s foliage can look different based on maturity and other factors. Photograph courtesy of Harrison Green.
Above: Similar in appearance to Virginia creeper, Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) has leaves that can be hard to identify because the vine’s foliage can look different based on maturity and other factors. Photograph courtesy of Harrison Green.

For a similar fence-mounted lantern suitable for use in a sheltered outdoor setting, see the Union Filament Clear Glass Wide Sconce with an aluminum frame and clear glass panes; $379 at Restoration Hardware.

Downlights

Outdoor wall lights are specifically designed and approved for wet location use. Photograph via Royal Botania.
Above: Outdoor wall lights are specifically designed and approved for wet location use. Photograph via Royal Botania.

“Wall-mounted outdoor fixtures are the chameleons of landscape lighting,” writes Janet. “They can be used virtually anywhere in your garden that offers a flat vertical surface.” See more in Hardscaping 101: Outdoor Wall Lights.

Starry Night Lights

On a modern addition to an early Victorian terraced house, Architecture for London designed an &#8\2\20;intricate glass and Cor-ten steel screen, with varying degrees of transparency,&#8\2\2\1; to light the garden from indoors at night.
Above: On a modern addition to an early Victorian terraced house, Architecture for London designed an “intricate glass and Cor-ten steel screen, with varying degrees of transparency,” to light the garden from indoors at night.

The Cor-ten steel panel has many tiny, starry perforations: “It is largely opaque at low level to obscure views into the bathroom, yet perforated and split vertically to offer glimpses of the garden from within. At high level, clear glazing allows views of the sky and trees,” the architects say. See more of this project in our Architect/Designer Directory.

Classic Barn Lights

Above: Architects Berman Horn Studio (members of the Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory) transformed derelict, 19th-century wooden barn into an artist’s studio without sacrificing its essential barn-ness. Photograph by Rush Jagoe, courtesy of Berman Horn Studio.

Ivy softens the sharp angles of the facade and barn light sconce with its elegant arms, punctuating the darkness with targeted down lighting. Here a side door is instilled with drama and purpose.

Above: At the artist’s studio, another barn light sconce welcomes visitors to a side patio and a wall of sliding glass doors. Photograph by Rush Jagoe, courtesy of Berman Horn Studio.

See more of this project at The Ivy League: An Artist’s Welding Workshop Covered in Vines in Upstate NY.

Underwater Lights

Low-profile underwater lights repeat a theme, complementing inset wall lights in a landscape project by Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory member Gunn Landscape Architecture.
Above: Low-profile underwater lights repeat a theme, complementing inset wall lights in a landscape project by Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory member Gunn Landscape Architecture.

Consider these lights to be “stealth and hidden beneath the surface,” writes Alexa, who recently rounded up her favorites in 10 Easy Pieces: Underwater Landscape Lights.

Hanging Lanterns

A hanging cage lantern illuminates the dining area at \1 Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn in an outdoor space designed by Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory member Brook Landscape.
Above: A hanging cage lantern illuminates the dining area at 1 Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn in an outdoor space designed by Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory member Brook Landscape.

For a similar look, consider a Modern Filament Pendant available in two sizes (rated for sheltered outdoor use); starting at $625 at Restoration Hardware. Another option is the Darlana Outdoor Hanging Lantern with tapered sides designed by E. F. Chapman for Visual Comfort, suitable for use in a damp location and available in two sizes; starting at $1,119 at Lumens.

See more Cage Lanterns rated for outdoor use at Copper Lantern Lighting Gallery.

Riser Lights

Inset on steps made of bluestone, stairway riser lights sit flush against the stone in a Tiburon, California, project by Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory member Pedersen Associates.
Above: Inset on steps made of bluestone, stairway riser lights sit flush against the stone in a Tiburon, California, project by Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory member Pedersen Associates.

Riser lights “provide easy stairway navigation and can be coordinated with their background material so they don’t distract during the day,” Janet says. See more in Hardscaping 101: Stairway Lighting.

See more design tips (and our favorite outdoor lights) in our Garden Design 101 guide on lighting, and don’t miss:

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