4 Outdoor Lighting Tricks to Make Small Yards Look Bigger

4 Outdoor Lighting Tricks to Make Small Yards Look Bigger

With some trends leaning toward smaller homes, today’s families are expanding their living areas outside. Now, savvy homeowners enjoy outdoor ‘rooms’ filled with the same style and comfort in furniture, fabrics, and lighting as they have indoors. While 2018 outdoor lighting trends can easily be incorporated in any size yard, smaller yards ultimately present more challenges when creating landscapes and outdoor living areas with truly captivating lighting. By carefully choosing landscape and outdoor lighting, you can make a small yard look more expansive. Read on for four clever outdoor lighting tricks to make your small yard look bigger!


1. Curved & Lighted Walkways

A curving or meandering garden path allows guests to easily move about the yard and creates the illusion of a large outdoor space. Lighted water or gardening features installed along the path provide a place to pause and reflect, giving a more expansive feel. Whatever shape walkway you have, adequate lighting is crucial for creating both texture and visibility. Quality pathway lighting should lead guests safely through the yard and also enhance your landscape at night. For safety, place a light fixture where ever there’s a change in curve or direction.

Of course, pathway construction is only half the battle. The types of lighting fixtures you choose will ultimately light the way to your overall completed look. Here are just a few ideas and recommendations, but remember, our “Outdoor Lighting Buying Guide” is also a powerful tool for making decisions when it’s actually time to purchase.

Add a contemporary southwest feel to your garden with the SLV Lighting North America Rusty Rusted Iron One-Light Twenty-Inch Bollard. Formed of cast FeCSi-steel in an attractive rusted iron finish, this outdoor light is wet-rated to withstand outdoor conditions. Another strong option is the Kichler Zen Garden Olde Bronze 24-Inch One-Light Landscape Path Light. This stylish walkway light exudes Far Eastern flair with an angular, pagoda design and olde bronze finish. The amber seeded glass softly illuminates an outdoor path.

2. Hang a Mirror – Outdoors!

Enjoy the space and light-enhancing effects of mirrors on a covered deck or in the landscape. Whether new or vintage, small spaces will appear brighter and more spacious with a sparkling, reflective mirror. Mirrors rated for outdoor use open up a covered deck, porch or patio, making the outdoor space seem larger. Of course, you can always visit a thrift store to purchase an inexpensive mirror to hang on a garden wall or fence. Tuck the mirror behind greenery, then light the area. The reflection of leaves and light will create a more expansive feel, even if it’s simply an optical illusion.

Note: Outdoor mirrors can be confusing to birds and other wildlife, so be mindful of where you hang your mirrors. If the illusion is too convincing, you might create a hazard, particularly for birds. In enclosed patios and spaces, this should not be a problem.


3. Landscape Layering

Start with a sketched landscape plan. By strategically planting greenery, you can create the illusion of depth and space in your yard. Consistency throughout the area is important. Using ‘layers’ of the same plant throughout the garden can create a sense of rhythm as your eye will ‘flow’ across the landscape. This ‘layering’ effect can also be achieved by choosing plants in the same color family. For example, a row of yellow tulips would be disruptive enough to differentiate the two layers in the eye of the beholder.

To create a deep expansive feel, try placing plantings, one in front of the other, with the tallest in back and smallest in front. While layering trees, shrubs, and plants, pay special attention to ornamental trees, evergreen shrubs, perennial shrubs, flowers and other colorful accent plants. Also be sure to vary the sizes, shapes, and colors of your greenery, as this ultimately adds visual interest and depth to the landscape. Adding pops of bright color beside a lighted walkway with bright flowers and foliage also draws the eye down the path, making the space ultimately seem larger.


4. Hardscape Lighting

Hardscape surfaces such as stairs, decks, and retaining walls, create a sense of depth in the garden when lit. Strategically placed outdoor lighting can be used to highlight interesting architectural features, and provide safety for nighttime strolls. Here’s a few ideas to consider before investing in hardscape lighting:

Think about where you need illumination –

  • A path leading through the garden will need light to mark its boundaries.
  • A garden bench or dark corner may need illumination for nighttime security.
  • Consider highlighting a hardscape feature like a water fountain or fire pit.
  • Tuck landscape lighting under shrubs to create a softly lit mood.
  • Consider highlighting your birdbath with a spotlight.
  • Add small spotlights around a garden pond. The water will reflect the light, creating a calming effect.


Bonus Tip: Consider Uplighting

Uplighting can be used to highlight your home’s architectural elements such as a bay window, columns, latticework, molding, or the overall façade. Uplights can be placed to highlight tall trees, ornamental shrubs, and other greenery as well. Types of uplights include sconces, spotlights, and globes.

Hint: When installing uplights, take note of the direction of the light and where it falls. Point lights away from adjoining homes to prevent glare and light trespass – dark sky or not, it’s the neighborly thing to do!

See more light layering techniques and tips for your home and landscape in “Light Layering Tips for Texturing Outdoor Lighting” for different angles and takes on your outdoor spaces. Remember, the right amount of strategically placed outdoor illumination can visually expand your outdoor living area, making it look and feel more open, spacious, and inviting for years to come!



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