What do you want your your outdoor lighting to do? Do you want to emphasize your landscaping, shed light on walkways or add security?
Walk around your yard with a flashlight to experiment with how lighting would look in your yard. Determine where lights should be positioned and how many you need. These variables will create different moods and effects, so consider the possibilities.
You can light up dark walkways by placing lights close to each other so that the illumination overlaps. Place accent lighting near walls or underneath trees to create great highlighting effects. Place lights in front of trees or statues to create dramatic shadows on fences and walls.
Remember, less is more. Don't add so many lights that they end up competing with each other. Be careful not to install lighting in locations that will get in the way of lawnmowers or foot traffic. Make sure your lighting won't beam directly into your home or, even worse, into your neighbor's.
Try to plan your light installation when you're landscaping your yard or garden.
Once you have lighting ideas in mind, drawing a plan will help you visualize the results. Include the location of exterior outlets, trees, shrubbery, walkways, fountains, deck or patio, as well as any areas you want to light for safety. Don't worry if you're not an artist—even a rough sketch will do the trick.
Check with your local municipality to determine if building codes will allow you to do what you want. Depending on what you have in mind, you may need a permit.