These are the Type of Lights People With Relaxing Backyards Always Have (and You Should Too!)

If you're considering giving your backyard a little revamp this spring, don't forget these relaxing outdoor lighting fixtures, designed to soothe

A backyard lit with warm bulbs
(Image credit: Eric Holt. Design: COS Design)

With the promise of spring on the horizon comes daydreams of balmy summer evenings spent lounging outdoors. It's time to raise the backyard from its winter slump, and get it prepped for the season ahead.

Outdoor lighting is such a key component of your backyard furniture. It can help illuminate the space when the sun goes down and foster that feeling of indoor-outdoor living. We like to see our backyards as extensions of our interiors (weather permitting), so lighting the space should be as important as lighting your living room or bedroom. Lighting can make or break a calming and peaceful vibe too. 'Relaxing backyards have soft, moody lighting in thoughtfully selected fixtures to set the tone,' points out designer Ellie Mroz. To give you some pointers, we've spoken to the designers to find out their favorite ways of curating a relaxed backyard through lighting.

1. Select shaded fixtures to diffuse light

A backyard seating area with wooden lighting fixture

(Image credit: Laura Moss Photography. Design: Ellie Mroz Design)

As with indoor lights, selecting fixtures that don't have a harsh glare from the bulb is important. Create a relaxing atmosphere in your backyard by picking modern garden lighting fixtures that diffuse the light softly.

'Recessed uplights are more expensive because they need to be waterproof and tough enough for car or foot traffic,' says Ken Shallcross, one-half of the Modern Architecture + Design Society. 'Also, an uplight can be glaring to the eye and cast unattractive shadows on people. We try to use lights near the ground mounted in walls or on bollards so that light is cast downward onto the path,' adds Ken.

This calming outdoor space designed by Ellie Mroz Design centers an outdoor seating area from above with a woven wooden light fixture which creates a whimsical look. 'Materials like hardy rattans or brasses that will patina with time are among our favorites,' says Ellie.

Another great style of fixture that diffuses the light is a lantern. 'Whether it’s two centered on a coffee table or a cluster of them at the corner of a sofa, lanterns give a beautiful, ambient glow to a space that's perfectly inviting and relaxing,' says Kat Aul Cervoni, landscape designer and founder of Staghorn NYC and The Cultivation by Kat.

2. Create focused pools of light

A relaxing backyard with pools of light

(Image credit: Jennifer Turner Architect. Photographer: Nanne Springer)

Resist the urge to flood the space with light, instead let darkness be your canvas and use light sparingly and with consideration.

For example, spotlighting one or two trees can transform them into luminous sculptures and create focal points in your backyard. The effect of this creates a soothing space, with pockets of light embuing a calming atmosphere as the light fades.

Use plants, general backyard hardscape, and landscaping with rocks to create pools of lighting for dramatic effect. 'Remember low voltage uplights nested amidst plantings,' adds Kat. 'The glow of small spotlights throughout a garden bed adds instant warmth and appeal.'

'Pathways should also be guided with gentle pools of downward light or discrete recessed inground fixtures,' adds Jacob JeBailey of Reign Architects Inc. 'With a thoughtful lighting design, even the most compact urban garden can blossom into a haven of serenity.'

3. Pick a bulb with a warm glow

A backyard flooded with warm light

(Image credit: Eric Holt Photography. Design: COS Design)

Don't forget one often overlooked critical detail: choosing bulbs in lower color temperatures to give that sought-after warm glow for a calming backyard. Just like with interiors, your bulb's color temperature, or CCT, should be around 2700k. A 2700K outdoor bulb, like this one from Amazon, casts a warm, soft glow instead of a cool, icy tone that can feel cold and too bright.

'Lighting design is critical in orchestrating moods and atmospheres, especially in small urban contexts,' says Jacob. 'For true peace and tranquility, banish any harshness by keeping the color temperature warm — 2700K or less to be specific.'

4. Light from above with string lights

A backyard with fairylights

(Image credit: Christian DuRocher. Design: Kate Anne Designs)

String lights that hang from above and shine downwards are a good option to create a calming atmosphere. 'Cafe string lights strung overhead are a great touch,' says Kat. 'These provide the perfect mix of functionality and charm and can be installed rather quickly and inexpensively.'

The outdoor seating area under a canopy of string lights and rattan lampshades provides a distinct area in the backyard designed by Kate Anne Designs. Come evening time, creates a soft glow over the garden. This modern garden lighting also beautifully illuminates the warmth of the paving stone flooring. 

5. Include a firepit

A backyard with a firepit

(Image credit: Doublespace Photography. Design: Barbora Vokac Taylor Architect Inc.)

A firepit is a source of heat as well as ambient lighting. It creates a focal point in your backyard that is conducive to relaxation with the flicker of fire creating atmosphere aplenty.

In the backyard of this family home designed by Barbora Vokac Taylor Architect Inc, the ground floor expands out to the rear backyard extending the living area. Small tranquil exterior spaces make for an outdoor living room and dining room. 'Soft seating surrounds a firepit and offers a tranquil oasis outdoors within an urban setting in the warmer months,' says Barbara Vokac Taylor of Barbora Vokac Taylor Architect Inc.

Lights to buy for a relaxing backyard

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.