Landscape lighting lights up a huge tree.

A dark yard is like an empty canvas for outdoor lighting. By using outdoor lighting, you can highlight features of your landscape. Here, Enhanced Outdoor Lighting will look at how to use outdoor lighting to accent trees to create visual interest and enhance the beauty of your landscape.

With the tips in this blog post, it is important to keep in mind that all trees and situations are different. Working with a reputable landscape lighting company can help you produce the best results for your landscape. 

Please note that there are other tree-lighting techniques not covered in this guide.

Caution: Please be aware that working with electricity is dangerous and should only be handled by professionals. 

Tree Uplighting in San Antonio and Austin, Texas

Outdoor lighting has its unique challenges. You’ll need to ensure that your light fixtures are durable enough to withstand the elements and set up safely. High winds and harsh temperatures are just some of the challenges your outdoor lighting will face.

LED lights are often a good choice for a lot of outdoor lighting applications, given their resilience to harsh temperatures, among other benefits. 

Tree Lighting and Illumination Techniques

Lights outside to light up a driveway.

Trees are a prominent and attractive feature found in many yards. They make an excellent subject for outdoor lighting and can be illuminated in a variety of ways. By lighting the trees in your landscape, you can add a dramatic touch and make a focal point.

Tree Uplighting

When uplighting is applied to trees, it creates a dramatic effect. Uplighting trees can take some attempts to get correct. You may have to change things around to get it the way you want it.

To uplight a tree, position a fixture at a tree trunk’s base and shine the light toward the leaves, blooms, and branches.

If you have a tree that is small, narrow, or spindly, you can utilize an inground well light right next to the tree’s trunk and point it straight up. This technique helps smaller trees have a large impact.

For trees that are bushy and large, you can use one or more spotlights that are situated close to the tree’s trunk and direct them up to the foliage. By doing this, you can draw attention to the complexity of its leaves and also show the form and texture of the trunk and branches. This technique is excellent for highlighting trees that have an interesting trunk shape.

If you want to showcase texture, position spotlights farther out from the tree and point them at the tree. The lighting will make more shadows, giving the tree a dramatic background. If you angle the light or lights at 45 degrees, you can add drama to the trunk and leaves of the tree.

Be sure that the fixture uplighting the tree is discrete. The light should be a complement to the tree, accenting it and not making itself a feature. Ideally, the light should be a natural and gentle glow that brings about ambiance, as opposed to a bright and overwhelming light that can come across as irritating.

Uplighting for Palm Trees

Landscape lighting on a huge palm tree.

If you have a palm tree in your San Antonio landscape, it makes sense that you would want to highlight it. By showcasing the fronds, a.k.a. leaves of a palm tree, you can celebrate a crucial part of a palm tree’s iconic look. Ideally, you’ll want to highlight the full spread of the palm tree’s fronds.  

Tree Downlighting

Downlighting provides a more subtle look. It creates an inviting ambiance that is excellent for gatherings.

When paired with a tall tree, downlighting can replicate moonlight, and if there is a soft breeze, you may be able to see the reflections of branches and leaves moving on the ground.

When using downlighting on a tree, try to find a big deciduous tree that is close to an outdoor living area or another focal point in the landscape. While you can use a smaller tree, a big, tall tree with high branches works best. While a light can be placed lower or higher, make sure that the light is not obscured by a lot of branches or blinding to the area below. 

When downlighting a tree, the light fixture can be attached to the tree or a nearby structure. You can position a small spotlight fixture on the trunk of your tree. By doing this, you’ll be able to create a moonlight-like look on the tree’s foliage or root system. If you use more than one spotlight, you can create a moonlight effect that looks fuller and more natural.

With trees that have a large amount of loose foliage, you can place a swiveling spotlight fixture in the foliage of the tree on one of its branches. This creates intriguing shadows of the tree’s foliage on the ground.

If you want to make a tree a subtle focal point and add a nice glow to the area around it, you can attach a swiveling spotlight to a nearby structure. To do this, you’ll need to position the swiveling spotlight fixture up high and away from the tree you are illuminating. Angle the spotlight at a 30-degree angle to create the appearance of a natural diffusion of light. The light should illuminate through branches of the tree to the foliage below it or onto the ground. In times like fall and winter, when trees generally have less foliage, this technique can create an eerie look on the ground by the tree.

Tree Silhouetting

A tree silhouetted against a wall provides a dramatic look. If you have a tree in your yard near one of your home’s walls, a fence, or a garage door, a large spotlight can be shined at the tree and surface to create an attractive silhouette.

If the light shines from a lower angle, it will make the tree appear to be larger than it really is. By lighting a tree from a higher angle or using several lights, you can make the shadows softer. 

A floodlight can be used if there is a big, open area. Position the flood light a reasonable distance away from the tree you are lighting. Direct the flood light toward the tree, the tree’s leaves, and the structure that is behind it.

As opposed to silhouetting several trees, it’s best to select one to silhouette. If there are several trees in front of a structure, position the floodlight nearer to the tree you are silhouetting to create one silhouette instead of multiple ones. 

You can utilize a spotlight with a narrow light to make a greater distinction with the bordering darkness.

Spotlighting a Tree

You can make a tree a focal point by creating a crossbeam with two or more spotlights. The crossbeam of light lessens shadows and creates a gorgeous glow on the tree you are illuminating. Spotlighting works best on a tall tree that has a good amount of girth or has an elaborate arrangement of branches. Be sure to place the spotlights further out than when you are uplighting a tree.

When using a spotlight, make sure that you do not shine it into windows.

Enhanced Outdoor Lighting and Design Pro Tips

Professional Outdoor Lighting Services in Austin and San Antonio

When you want to bring out the best in your landscape lighting, the professionals at Enhanced Outdoor Lighting can help. We proudly serve the greater Austin and San Antonio areas with incredible outdoor lighting designs. From tree illumination and beyond, we create gorgeous landscape lighting arrangements with high-quality outdoor LED lights that will change the way you see your landscape at night.

Contact us for a free quote!

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