One of the most challenging things about landscape lighting is getting it right. Too much light and your landscape will look like the Las Vegas Strip; too little light and it’ll be hard to see anything at all.

Fortunately, you can use some tried-and-true lighting techniques to perfect your landscape lighting. For example, silhouetting, highlighting, and shadowing are all great ways to highlight particular landscape objects and create visual patterns.

Here are some tips on using each of these techniques to their full advantage. Later, you’ll learn which lighting fixtures create these effects.


If you have an eye-catching statement piece on your landscape, such as an attractive plant, architectural feature, or exotic tree, you can make it even more dramatic with silhouette. This exterior lighting technique contrasts the feature you want to highlight against the background. 

With silhouetting, you shine a balanced light against an exterior wall at a wide angle. Place the light between the feature and the wall to create a bright backdrop. Immediately, you’ll notice the feature looks darker than the intense backdrop. The contrast between the shadows and the play of light makes the architectural element stand out.

Nailing silhouetting can become tricky, so it’s best only to use it when you can illuminate the background brightly against the object you want to silhouette. LED landscape lighting fixtures provide bright, direct light without increasing your energy bills. You can enjoy even greater control over your lighting by hooking your system up to a wifi landscape transformer. That way, you can schedule and control the silhouetting effect from anywhere.


If you find the shadows you create using the silhouetting technique to be too harsh, you may prefer the softer effect of shadowing. You may also like how shadowing looks with less dense objects like plants and trees.

To use the shadowing technique, position the light in front of the landscape feature you want to draw attention to. The filtered light creates shadows that add drama to your landscape. For a more mysterious vibe, shadow objects that move in the wind. The more you tilt and lower the light, the more dramatic the effect you create. 


One of the most widely used exterior lighting techniques is highlighting. By positioning a spotlight near the base of a landscape feature and aiming the light at the object, you naturally draw the eye to it. You can create unique lighting designs by changing the spotlight’s distance and angle.

Let your creativity fly free with this lighting technique. You can change the number of lighting fixtures you use, especially if you want to highlight a larger object. Rather than draw attention to a landscape feature, you can also use highlighting to create anchor points on your landscape, such as a fountain or sculpture. 

Landscape anchor points create a theme that carries throughout your landscape design. For instance, you can use a plant as an anchor point. Choose a plant that has a unique texture or color that contrasts with the surrounding plant life for the best results.

Light Fixtures To Use for Silhouetting, Highlighting, and Shadowing

Now that you better understand highlighting, shadowing, and silhouetting, you may wonder which lighting fixtures to use. All three techniques are examples of uplighting, which is aiming light upward under architectural elements or trees to create a striking effect. 

Directional lights and well lights are the best fixtures for uplighting. Directional lights support a wide range of bulbs, wattages, and beam widths. You can position well lights below ground level, so the beam of light shines close to the ground.

Highlight the best parts of your landscape with light and shadows. You can transform your exterior property with the right lighting techniques while creating interesting visual patterns.

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