Patio lighting is all about creating atmosphere. “Think of the lighting at McDonald’s,” says TJ Wilcoxson of Alexon Design Group in Gilbert, AZ. “They purposely light it that way to encourage customers to leave as soon as they’re done eating. Now imagine the lighting at your favorite Italian restaurant. It’s romantic, it sets the scene. That’s the goal of lighting for your patio,” he says.
To encourage friends and family to relax and enjoy themselves, use subtle down lighting. Gerry DuBreuil of Belknap Landscape Company, Inc. in Gilford, NH suggests attaching lights to trees and aiming them downward through the foliage to get a moonlit effect. If you don’t have mature trees nearby, another prime opportunity for down lighting is to install fixtures in a patio cover or pergola. The pergola acts as a ceiling and can support many different styles of light fixtures as long as they are made for outdoor use. Learn more about patio cover lighting options.
Another way to light a patio is to add fixtures to a wall or column at the edge of the patio. This is an option for new construction because the fixtures have to be integrated into the structure of the wall itself. Sometimes the fixtures are hidden underneath the wall cap so that the source of the light cannot be seen. This type of lighting helps to illuminate the surface of the patio in a similar fashion to how path lights illuminate walkways. Often down lighting is used in conjunction with wall lighting.