What is landscape down lighting and up lighting?

Illuminate features of your house or landscape
I love this picture from Kichler Lighting. It is the perfect example of up lighting and down lighting in landscape design. Landscape lighting illuminates features of your house or landscape when artfully placed in the right location. Landscape lighting is also a safety and security feature, adding light to walkways and deterring would-be thieves. The terms “down” or “up” in reference to outdoor landscape lighting refer to the direction of the beam of light. 

Down Lighting

A light that illuminates downward produces “down lighting” (or downlighting). The light fixture can be low to the ground to illuminate a walkway or the light can be placed high on a ceiling like in an alcove or entryway, wall, post or other fixture to illuminate a walkway, entry door, garage door or driveway.

Install lighting under a stair handrail or deck/balcony handrail or evenly spaced as accent lighting on a fence, retaining wall or wall of a structure. Fix odd numbers of short, pathway lights in a garden where they accent a floral grouping or garden ornament like a gazing ball or faerie, or near a pond or waterfall. Mount down lights inside the riser of a step to light the step tread, from a tree limb over a seating area, on an exterior house wall to light a deck or patio, or attach to the house’s eve/soffit.
Up Lighting

Exterior lighting that projects upwards is referred to as “up lighting” (or uplighting). Up lights can add dramatic effect in the landscape when placed at the base of a tree to project a beam into the tree’s limbs or pointed at a statue or evergreen tree. Up lights can also highlight unique architectural features of the house like an oversized entry, an ornamental flower box, or unusual stone or brickwork. 

Other applications for up lights in the landscape include:  periodically placed within groupings of bushes or ornamental grasses; directed at a garden gate, house numbers or a chimney; or placed at the base of columns, fence posts or corners of a building, gazebo, pergola or other landscape features.  


Globe lights, which project light in all directions, or cylindrical lights with the top and bottom open to project light up and down are examples of combination of down lighting and up lighting. These types of lights can be used on the wall of the house at an entry door, along a walkway or on each side of the garage door.