The best patio lighting ideas to illuminate your outdoor space

For maximum enjoyment, your patio should transition effortlessly between day and night. This is especially true if you live in a place where it is not advisable to spend time outdoors in the middle of the day, unless you are submerged up to your neck in a body of cold water. By the time the sun goes down, it’s the best patio time. Cooler temperatures, a light breeze, and maybe a refreshing cocktail in hand? Count on us. But if all the patio lighting you have to work with is flickering fireflies (no matter how lovely that sounds), you may soon find yourself in the dark.

Determining the best patio lighting ideas for your space can help you transform your backyard into an absolute destination. Good patio lighting can create an outdoor space that inspires conversation, elevates summer cookouts, and even creates the getaway you’ve been dreaming of, just steps from your back door.

Hector Sánchez

1. Create atmosphere with balloon string lights

For an inexpensive way to add artificial light and ambiance to your patio, turn to globe string lights. Be sure to measure the length you’ll need ahead of time using a piece of string, following the same path you intend to place the lights on. Chances are you’ll need a longer string than you think, especially if you’ll be hanging your lights in a zigzag pattern.

Other considerations when shopping for patio string lights include the type of bulb (opt for LED varieties, which attract fewer bugs due to reduced UV emissions), whether you want to go solar or plug-in power, and options that allow smartphone control, which is especially useful if you want to set your lights to turn on and off on a timer.

julie sofer

2. Install track lights on the ceiling

If you have a large or covered patio, architectural frame ceiling lighting may be ideal. Both track and can lighting options designed to withstand the outdoor elements and with a dimmer can ensure your outdoor room always has the right amount of light. Opting for built-in patio lights hidden behind ceiling joists keeps the look understated and makes the architecture the center of attention.

edmund barr

3. Hang pendant lights from a pergola

Whether you make it yourself or purchase it, a wicker basket lamp hung from a pergola is a charming rustic option. Use at least two lamps on a long rectangular table to ensure that no one is left in the dark once the sun goes down. The most important factor when selecting your pendant light is making sure that it is safe for outdoor use, which means that it is rated for outdoor use. Even if it’s not directly exposed to the elements, due to humidity, heat, and sun exposure, you’ll need to use materials that can withstand wear and tear, not to mention adequately shield electrical functionality from light.

Kim Cornelison

4. Light up roads with hurricanes

Don’t let the path to your patio be an afterthought. Lighting the way to your outdoor space is necessary to create a safe flow from indoors to your patio. Low-hanging lanterns or hurricanes provide enough brightness to illuminate a pathway without blowing away from the yard. You can opt for battery-powered pillar candles, but splurge on a variety that mimics the flicker of real candlelight for added charm.

adam albright

5. Use String Light Planters to Create Space

There’s no denying the appeal of string lights, but what if your yard doesn’t have walls or other structural elements to help secure them? DIY string light pots are the answer and the process is not as complicated as you might think. Whether you have a giant patio and need to separate the dining area from the living area or your patio is a glorified 8 by 8 patch of concrete, a zigzag pattern of overhead string lights can instantly create a distinct space. .

emily rone

6. Layered Patio Lighting

There is no one size fits all when it comes to patio lighting. The time of day, whether it’s dawn, dusk, or past sunset, will determine how much artificial light you need for your patio. For that reason, having a variety of options can be both practical and stylish. A chandelier just outside the door is a must for security purposes. The same can be said for motion-activated spotlights that usually hang just below the ceiling and are used to illuminate darker areas of the garden or patio. If you’re entertaining outdoors and don’t want guests to feel like they’re in the hot seat, just be sure to turn off the sensor for the occasion. Most products can be easily switched from motion detection to on/off functionality.

Even with many light sources, such as sconces and spotlights, it is ideal to be able to switch to options that provide a softer glow when required. Torches at the edge of the patio can be used to provide a final layer of ambient light while repelling insects. Another option is torches with staked bottoms that can be inserted directly into the ground beyond the edge of the patio. Finally, the light of the candles on the table is essential, but flames that go out with the first gentle breeze? Not that much. A hurricane is the answer and they come in sizes ranging from large enough to fit in a collection of pillar candles to small varieties made to fit in a single votive candle.

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