Lighting Your Pathways

You’ve spent a considerable amount of money to lay a pathway from your house to your yard or from your pool to your garden. Now, you need to decide how to light that pathway and keep everyone safe as they walk on it at night. As lighting technology has advanced, your options have increased greatly, even in the past few years.


Picture 1: Garden path

Things to Consider as You Choose Lighting

The type of pathway that you have will be a major factor in the style of lighting that you choose. If your path winds like a serpent through a long stretch of yard, you will need lights that are placed more closely together and are smaller and lower than if your path if relatively straight and short. If your path is made of a light stone or wood, you will not need lighting as bright as you will if it is black or red brick. If your pathway is wide, you will need bollards that cast a sizeable arc; if your pathway is narrow, you can have smaller bollards or even lights that illuminate only the path, either placed on top of the path or recessed on either side of it. If your pathway is the only part of your yard that you want lit, then smaller is actually better. Numerous petite lights will give your path a wonderfully eerie effect as it looks like it is lifted from the ground. If, however, you have trees, a pool and other backyard staples lighted, you will need brighter, more focused lighting to ensure that the path can be seen amongst the competition.

Types of Lights That Can Be Used

In addition to bollards and lights placed in the pathway’s structure, you can use under-curb strip lights if you have a small curb surrounding your path; bulkhead lights that can be installed on parapet wall sides if you have walls near the path to work with, or lamps that come in a variety of styles and looks. Many homeowners have opted for less ostentatious lamps that rest less than a metre from the ground; rarely are lampposts needed that look like city street lights, unless you have a huge yard with an extensive walkway that requires tremendous light. Another rather recent innovation is a rope light, which can be placed on walls or beside the path to give one continuous band of light to your walkway and an extremely chic look.


Picture 2: Garden with different pathway lights at night

Location of Pathway Lighting

Once you have decided what type of lights that you want to install along your pathway and at which wattage, you need to consider where you will place the lights. Most people opt for lights on either side of the pathway or on one side only, but newer, more creative designs can place lights in patterns along your walkway or even right down the center. Your costs will go up with such designs, but the final effect might be worth it to you.

Whatever type of pathway lighting you choose, be sure to install bulbs that either last for years or can be easily replaced. Be sure that you keep your pathway clear of anything that could injure a walker because most pathway lights only reveal where the path is, not the small branch filled with thorns that sits on it. Don’t rely on your decorative lights to alert your child that the branch is there as s/he runs indoors after playing. Pathway lights do a fine job of showing where the path is, but they are less stellar at illuminating all of the debris that can find their way onto the path.

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