A gorgeous poolside lighting setup.

Whether it’s a spirited conversation with an old friend or a joyous get-together with family, there’s something special about spending time outdoors under the Texas sky with those we love. With outdoor lighting, your Austin or San Antonio backyard entertaining doesn’t have to be limited to daylight hours. Here, the Enhanced Outdoor Lighting and Design professionals will share ways outdoor lighting and audio can help make your landscape an ideal space to entertain guests after dark.

Please note that given the complexity of outdoor lighting and the dangers of working with electricity, it is best to have the help of a reputable outdoor lighting professional.

Setting the Stage for Memorable Outdoor Gatherings with Landscape Lighting

A patio at night lit up by LEDs.

Whether you are having an intimate outdoor get-together or dinner party, you’ll want to see what you are doing in your outdoor entertaining space. With the proper outdoor lighting setup, you can set the tone for a memorable evening with friends and family. You can use outdoor lighting for so much more than improving visibility; it adds to the welcoming ambiance of your home, beckoning your guests towards it. Outdoor lighting can transform a dark yard into an inviting oasis.

Choosing the Right Outdoor LED Lighting Fixtures

There are many types of outdoor LED lighting fixtures on the market that serve various purposes. By selecting the right lighting, you can optimize the look and feel of your outdoor gathering space at night. 

Regardless of what type of outdoor lighting fixture you select, it is essential to go with outdoor fixtures that are durable enough to withstand the conditions they are in.

Please note: As each landscape is different, it’s a great idea to consult an outdoor lighting professional on the optimal outdoor lighting for your situation.

The following are some lighting fixtures that can enhance your entertaining space. Please note this list is not exhaustive.

Pathway Lighting

While not directly related to entertaining spaces, pathway lighting is an important part of many outdoor entertaining spaces. Most guests don’t want to be welcomed by a dark yard with unseen tripping hazards. Pathway lighting can make a place more inviting and guide visitors down paths (potentially preventing grass and plants from being stepped on in the process!). You can also use pathway lighting to bring attention to potentially hazardous elevation changes and illuminate stairs. 

Pathway Light Positioning

Place path lights a few feet apart from each other and six inches from the path they are illuminating. To illuminate the path efficiently and in a visually appealing manner, stagger or alternate the path lights on the different sides of the path.

Step Lighting

As with pathway lighting, step lighting is useful for guiding guests, illuminating tripping hazards, and making everyone feel welcome. Step lights can be placed on the face of steps or in walls next to the steps. However you illuminate steps, they must enable users to see the steps clearly.

Outdoor String Lighting

Assuming you have the space, outdoor string lights can be an excellent way to add ambiance to an area. Please be advised that outdoor string lighting alone may not be enough to properly illuminate your outdoor entertaining space. If you can’t mount outdoor string lights to an overhead structure, they can be attached to posts.

Outdoor String Light Positioning

Outdoor string lights can be mounted from areas such as the top of a pergola. To better illuminate the area, have the outdoor string lights go across the ceiling several times. However, if your outdoor entertainment area doesn’t have an appropriate overhead space, outdoor string lights can be mounted to posts in the ground.

If you want to use outdoor string lights as accent lighting, you can place the lights along a covered entertainment area’s perimeter. 

Outdoor Pendant Lights

Outdoor pendant lights come in a variety of styles. If there is space to mount them, outdoor pendant lights are an excellent way to illuminate a table. It is important to note that not all pendant lights are made for the outdoors. You need to select ones that can handle the conditions they are used in. 

Outdoor Pendant Light Positioning

If positioning an outdoor pendant light above an outdoor seating area, put it over the center of the seating area at least seven feet off of the ground. 

If you have an outdoor pendant light above a table, be sure that it is at least 34 inches over it. This helps keep it out of the way of people using the table.

When using a pendant light over a door, be sure to allow for at least seven feet between the ground and the bottom of the pendant light and six inches between the bottom of the pendant light and the top of the door.

Outdoor Spotlights

Outdoor spotlights can be used in multiple ways, whether uplighting or downlighting a feature or providing an entertainment space with light. Outdoor spotlights can create visual interest by drawing attention to walls, plants, or other architectural features.

Outdoor Spotlight Positioning  

If you want to use multiple spotlights to illuminate a single subject, don’t group a lot of spotlights together. Instead, place the spotlights so that they shine at the subject from different angles. This adds a dramatic touch by creating silhouettes and layers.

Outdoor Wall Lights

Wall lights are another way to illuminate your outdoor entertaining space. They can also highlight architectural features, such as the texture of a wall. 

While your outdoor entertaining space may or may not have room for wall lighting, you can use wall lights to illuminate a backdoor leading to the outdoor entertaining space. This can help guide guests if they need to go to or from your home’s backdoor.

Outdoor Wall Light Positioning

If you are using an outdoor wall light on one side of a doorway, position it ⅓ of the door’s height. If you use two wall lights on each side of the door, they’ll need to be ¼ of the door’s height. To make sure the door’s handle and lock have enough light, place them 66 inches above the ground.

Deck Lighting

Deck lighting can be used in several ways to illuminate your entertainment space. Some ways they can be placed include on the side of a deck railing post by your outdoor entertaining space or an outdoor entertaining space wall.

Deck Light Positioning

You can attach deck lights to deck railing posts, providing there is space. By positioning the deck lights higher, you can illuminate a larger area. When you place the deck lighting lower on the deck railing posts, you reduce the light shown. Deck lighting can also be paired with post cap lights.

Deck Post Cap Lights

Deck post cap lights are placed on the tops of deck posts. If your entertainment space is on a deck, you can use deck post cap lights to illuminate your deck’s perimeter.

Recessed Deck Lighting 

Recessed deck lighting can be placed flush with the surface or ceiling of the deck, giving it a discreet appearance when not in use.

Recessed Deck Light Positioning

Recessed lighting can be positioned around the perimeter of a deck or be used to highlight elevation changes. When placing recessed deck lighting in the floor of a deck around a perimeter, spacing them 4’ to 6’ on center from each other works well.

Strategic Outdoor Lighting Placement for Maximum Impact

A backyard patio lit up with outdoor lighting.

Optimizing your outdoor lighting isn’t only about finding the right fixtures; how they are positioned significantly impacts how your entertaining spaces are illuminated. When lighting entertaining spaces, not having enough lighting can make seeing difficult, while having too much light can be overpowering.

Having the right outdoor lighting fixtures won’t mean anything if they are positioned incorrectly. 

When working with outdoor lighting, it is important to be mindful of the effects of light pollution.

Please note that every situation is unique, and for the best results, it’s a good idea to work with a landscape lighting professional.

Creating Ambiance with Professional Outdoor Lighting Design

A reputable professional can optimize your lighting to create an incredible ambiance for your unique entertaining space. With all the factors involved in outdoor lighting, working with professionals is an excellent idea.

The following are some ways an outdoor lighting professional can utilize lighting to create ambiance for your outdoor entertaining spaces. 

Draw attention to Architectural Features

One way to add ambiance to your outdoor entertaining space is by using lighting to highlight architectural features. There are several ways to do this. For example, lights can shine up or down at places like a uniquely textured wall or a beautiful column.

Utilize Lights with Warm Color Temperatures

Warm-colored amber or white lights, between 2700K and 3000K, provide a welcoming and pleasant look that resembles sunlight.

Incorporate Multiple Light Sources

Lighting professionals can create a layered appearance that has depth by using different sources of light, such as outdoor pendant lights, festoon lights, and outdoor string lights, among others.

Energy-Efficient Outdoor Kitchen Lighting Solutions

Outdoor lighting around a pool and under patio.

An outdoor kitchen is an important place for outdoor lighting if you plan on using it after dark. Not only do you need to see the food you are cooking, but a kitchen is also filled with potential hazards. Fortunately, you won’t have to trade quality for efficiency when selecting LED outdoor lights. LED lights provide excellent performance and efficiency that helps save money on energy bills over conventional lighting. Also, by getting dimmable lights, you can get the ideal amount of light for your situation while potentially saving money by not using more light than you need. Along with dimmable lights, you can also save energy (and money!) by utilizing smart lights.

Many types of outdoor LED lights work excellently for kitchens. While not exclusive to outdoor kitchens, they can be a helpful addition in the right situations. Some of them include:

Outdoor LED Task Lights

When preparing food, visibility is paramount. With task lighting, you can shine a lot of light on a specific area. If you get outdoor task lights with separate on/off switches, you can have better control over your lighting. Since you are able to switch off individual lights when not in use, you might be able to save some electricity in the process.

Outdoor LED Light Strips

Outdoor LED light strips are energy efficient and work in various locations, such as under countertops or bar tops. The versatility of Outdoor LED light strips makes them a practical way to light your entertaining space. 

Outdoor Sound System – Landscape Speakers

If your get-together calls for sound, maybe for watching a game or blasting a party playlist, invest in a good set of landscape speakers. High-quality outdoor speakers can deliver exceptional sound. Enhanced Outdoor Lighting & Design offers high-quality Sound By Vista sound systems, which sound great and blend discreetly into any landscape.

Landscape Lighting Maintenance Tips for Long-Lasting Brilliance

Outdoor lights are subject to various conditions that damage or otherwise negatively affect their performance over time. Regular maintenance is crucial to keeping your outdoor lights shining bright. However, this maintenance is best done by a qualified professional, given the dangers of working with electricity.

Visually Inspect Fixtures for Damage

The effects of the elements can damage outdoor fixtures. Corrosion, dents, cracks, and more can hamper the performance of your outdoor lighting and even lead to unsafe conditions. Fixtures that have cracks or are broken may cause people or animals who come into contact with them to get cut. A damaged fixture may no longer be water resistant.

Look for Exposed Wires

The wires that run to outdoor lighting need to be buried underground. If they aren’t buried, they can pose a shock and tripping hazard. If a wire is exposed, it must be reburied unless it has damage. If a wire is damaged, it may not be sealed correctly, making it vulnerable to water.

Check to See if Fixtures Are Positioned Correctly 

Over time, outdoor lighting can move out of position, taking away from their effectiveness. To help keep them working their best, light fixtures such as spotlights may have to be periodically adjusted. Along with lights being moved out of position by someone or something, shifts in soil can also cause them to move.

Change Out Poorly Functioning or Broken Light Bulbs

Even long-lasting LED fixtures will need to be replaced eventually. Help keep your landscape shining bright by keeping an eye out for dimming or burnt-out bulbs. If you don’t know how to change them yourself, please have a professional do it.


The following are questions related to outdoor lighting and speaker systems. If you have additional questions, please contact a qualified outdoor lighting or speaker specialist.

How can outdoor lighting enhance outside entertainment areas?

There are a number of ways outdoor lighting can enhance outside entertainment areas. Here are a few examples:

-Adding beauty
-Making getting around easier
-Increasing visibility
-Creating ambiance
-Highlighting interesting features

What are the benefits of LED lighting?

LED lighting has numerous benefits over conventional lights. Some of the benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

-Longer lasting
-Better for the environment
-Energy saving
-Doesn’t get hot like conventional lights

What are the best outdoor lighting fixtures for entertaining spaces?

While each space is different, the following outdoor lighting fixtures tend to go well with entertaining spaces:

-Path lighting
-Pendant lighting
-Wall lights
-Strip lights
-Outdoor string lights
-Deck lights
-Deck post cap lights
-Recessed deck lighting 

Please note that given the vast amounts of outdoor lighting available, this list is incomplete.

How long do landscape speakers last?

Landscape speakers typically last up to 10 years if properly maintained. But many factors can affect how long they last. For example, the speaker’s quality, location, and the conditions they are subjected to all play a role in their lifespan. Given the dangers of working with electricity, any landscape speaker maintenance needs to be handled by a trained professional.

What is the sound quality of outdoor speaker systems?

While there will be some variation in the sound quality of outdoor speaker systems, a correctly set up high-quality outdoor speaker system can provide excellent sound quality.

Additional Resources