9 Brilliant Backyard Lighting Ideas to Illuminate Your Outdoor Space

Whether you're looking for some easy string lights or a more permanent installation, these outdoor lighting ideas will make your yard more functional.

lantern string lights in backyard

Getty Images

Creating a functional (and beautiful!) backyard space is all about versatility. After all, you want to ensure that whatever outdoor space you have available—whether it’s a small patio or sprawling acreage—can be enjoyed at all times. A great outdoor space pairs moments of fun with moments of relaxation. It's the perfect area to soak up the sun in the summer and cozy up in the winter. And, perhaps most of all, it's an enjoyable place to spend time around the clock, day or night.

A variety of backyard lighting ideas can help you illuminate your hangout zone and add a magical element to your space. Achieving a bright and glowy look is also easier than you think. From a charming string of well-placed bistro lights to pro landscaping solutions, these backyard lighting ideas will make your outdoor space the ideal place to spend time and enjoy the company of loved ones.

Highlight Architectural Elements 

Backyard with pool and recessed ground lighting

Courtesy of Toll Brothers

Call attention to your home’s exterior in all the right ways with strategic lighting placement that highlights all the most stunning aspects of your abode’s architecture. Here, Toll Brothers builders used lighting to highlight specific landscaping elements, like the planters surrounding the patio, as well as practical light choices, like those built into the staircase and pool stepping stones—for a safe and well-lit backyard space that glows like the gem it is.

String Twinkling Bistro Lights

string lights in backyard above a long dining table

Courtesy of Cider Press Lane and Saleina Marie Photography

One surefire way to create a fairytale-like atmosphere in your backyard? Outdoor string lights! The inexpensive addition never fails to up the charm of a space, allowing you to transform what was once a ho-hum backyard into a talked-about outdoor dining experience, like the one shown here by the creators behind Ciderpress Lane.

Hang an Arrangement of Paper Lanterns

hanging lanterns and string lights in backyard

Courtesy of Nesting with Grace

For the feeling of a permanent fixture—and a stunning display over a dining table or lounge area—hang a collection of wispy paper lanterns together, as done here by Brooke Christen of Nesting With Grace. Not only will the look add a focal point to your outdoor zone, but it will deliver a soft glow overhead that will basically act as an IRL Instagram filter.

Take a Hint From Inside Your Home

Lamps in backyard patio next to outdoor couch

Courtesy of Renovation Bay-Bee

When it comes to creating the same cozy atmosphere al fresco as you have indoors, look to mirror elements that work inside your home. Here, Steph Moore, the creator behind Renovation Bay-Bee turned to a duo of (outdoor-grade!) floor lamps to add a soft glow to her exterior lounge space. The result is a laid-back hangout zone similar to that of an indoor living room. 

Create a “Room” With String Lights

backyard with string lights and fire pit

Courtesy of Jenna Sue Design

If you’re looking to up the intimacy in a sprawling backyard space, look no further than this genius idea from Jenna Sue Design. During her backyard makeover, she gave a cozy fire pit lounge area some much-needed prominence by creating a barrier of string lights around the nook. The area is “walled off” with tall cedar posts, which are then strung with outdoor bulbs around the perimeter to mimic the feel of a room, allowing you to create a vacation-worthy destination in your own backyard.

Tote Around A Table Lamp

Backyard with string lights and table lamp

Courtesy of Crack the Shutters

For maximum flexibility—and a backyard lighting idea that will charm any guest—try out a rechargeable or battery-powered LED lamp, like the vintage-inspired style seen in the backyard of Jen Rothbury of Crack the Shutters, above. Not only will it add a soft, romantic glow to any space, but it’s a great option if you find yourself regularly moving around multiple spots in your backyard at night.

Add a Standout Chandelier 

Outdoor patio with chandelier lighting

Courtesy of Hinkley Lighting

There’s no better way to truly capture the essence of indoor/outdoor living than by hanging a traditionally indoor-exclusive lighting fixture outdoors. This standout chandelier from Hinkley Lighting adds some rustic charm to the covered outdoor living room in this backyard, and it would look equally as stunning over an al fresco dining table.

Stoke Some Flames

Backyard outdoor fireplace

Courtesy of Today's Creative

It’s no secret that outdoor fireplaces are a great way to up the cozy factor at home—but in our opinion, they can also be a great way to add a little (unconventional) backyard lighting to the equation, too! Take this stunning stone fireplace from Kim Demmon of Today’s Creative Life for example. When combined with a few sets of outdoor string lights and coaxed to its full, fiery potential, this scene is a great way to ensure your whole backyard is bathed in a welcoming glow any time company swings by.

Outline Your Deck

Back deck with lined lighting

Courtesy of Christine Schuchman

Pay homage to your outdoor living space—and keep visitors safe—by outlining the perimeter of your deck or patio with small lanterns or ground lights. At this Lake Arrowhead A-frame home, the glow of the interior lights (visible through floor-to-ceiling windows) combine with the deck lighting to create a one-of-a-kind outdoor atmosphere.

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