Deck lighting ideas: 11 enchanting ways to illuminate decking at night

These deck lighting ideas are perfect for giving your timber or composite decking space an inviting glow

deck lighting ideas with bench and fire pit
(Image credit: Francisco Martinez/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you've got a stretch of timber flooring in your backyard, then these deck lighting ideas will make sure it sparkles after dark. It's one thing to give your decked space the wow-factor in the day, but for alfresco entertaining, you'll want it to dazzle long into the evening.

Great lighting can totally elevate the ambience of decking ideas. Done right, it'll offer a warm and welcoming vibe that will maximize the use of space throughout the year. Plus, when lit up, a deck can provide a beautiful view from indoors. This is especially the case if lighting is angled towards key features – perhaps a favorite potted plant, for example. 

'With gardens acting as our hub for socializing and entertaining, there's even more focus on how our gardens transform after dusk,' says James Smith, Design Director at award-winning landscape company, Bowles & Wyer. Bringing lighting schemes to gardens is a growing trend, as it can totally transform the atmosphere – and of course is practical too, he adds.

Deck lighting ideas: 11 beautiful styles

There are tons of styles to go for, so it really depends on your budget and overall theme. From twinkling festoons that illuminate the best garden furniture to modern wall lights and lamps that will keep the space toasty as well as adequately lit, we've rounded up some of the top deck lighting designs below to get you inspired.

1. Add a romantic glow with your deck lighting ideas

nedgis lighting on deck

(Image credit: Nedgis)

When discussing current garden trends, James Smith, Design Director at Bowles & Wyer says, 'We're seeing requests for festoon lights and mood lighting elements to make gardens a space for socializing after-hours.' And we're not suprised – you can never go far wrong with a string of festoons if you're looking to give your plot a magical glow. They're the perfect addition to small deck ideas and larger spaces alike, and, when strung overhead or along fences, evoke a laid-back, festival feel.

They instantly offer an intimate vibe to this modern seating spot. And, the chic lanterns positioned in the center of the scene only elevate the ambience further – flickering candles will always add a dose of romance.

Love the look? Our festoon light ideas guide has lots more gorgeous inspiration.

2. Dot LED lanterns around the scene

ikea festoon lights in garden scene

STORHAGA LED lamps from Ikea add a welcoming glow

(Image credit: Ikea)

If you're not sure about traditional, candle-lit lanterns, then there are plenty of LED alternatives to try instead. We love these lamps, which are reminiscent of kerosene designs of the past. They look great dotted about the scene, but because of their nifty handle, could be suspended from up-high too – perhaps from your covered deck ideas.

Their gentle glow is the perfect accompaniment to a comfy seating spot and will set the tone for an evening soirée with friends perfectly. Look for dimmable varieties with rechargeable batteries, such as these, for even more flexibility.

3. Pep up the perimeter of your roof terrace

john cullen lighting on deck

This roof terrace is transformed when night falls, featuring deck lighting ideas from John Cullen Lighting

(Image credit: John Cullen Lighting)

This lighting scheme demonstrates how small and cleverly-positioned lights can be all it takes to create a dramatic impact. 

Recessed lights have been used around the perimeter of the decking itself, illuminating the surrounding fences. We especially love the smart slatted design of the darker fence – our decking railing ideas feature has lots more inspiration.

Meanwhile, downlights shine the spotlight (quite literally) on beautiful potted hydrangeas to create elegant focal points. Both are ideal ways to highlight attractive features of the zone without taking up any precious floor space.

4. Attach sleek lighting to a pergola

deck lighting ideas with pergola

Pergolas can be useful additions to a backyard for more reasons than one

(Image credit: mike jarman/Alamy Stock Photo)

Pergola ideas are always a fantastic addition to decking. They provide shelter and shade as well as structural definition. And, they can be painted and accessorized to fit a theme beautifully (or surrounded in some of the best climbing plants).

As demonstrated here, they're also useful for securing deck lighting ideas. The three small spotlights blend in beautifully with the inky hue of the structure and surrounding fences, and offer a modern look.

The theme extends to the garden's borders, too, where more spotlights are used to highlight a line of trees. Overall, the space feels polished and well-considered, and would make a great base for outdoor entertaining.

5. Try recessed styles

deck lighting with fire pit and bench

Recessed deck lighting ideas illuminate the edges of this space

(Image credit: Francisco Martinez/Alamy Stock Photo)

Decking and garden path ideas alike can benefit from recessed deck lighting ideas. It's practical and fuss-free, plus will make getting from A to B much easier once night falls (especially if you've had a glass of vino or two!). Install along the edges at regular intervals – they make a great addition to steps, too.

Fire pit ideas are also a lovely feature for any outdoor living area. Not only will they keep the zone feeling toasty, but the dancing flames will cast a cozy light across the space. 'There has long been evidence on the mesmerizing and soothing effects of flames, and it provides a natural centerpiece for long evenings spent together,' says James Smith, Design Director at Bowles & Wyer.

6. Illuminate key features

living gardens decking with fire place

This scene designed by Living Gardens is a beautiful example of good deck lighting ideas in use

(Image credit: Living Gardens)

A flickering fire also makes a key feature in this beautiful plot by Living Gardens. But, along with the glow of the flames, there are plenty of clever deck lighting ideas used, too.

Tall stretches of verdant bamboo are turned into striking features come nightfall with carefully placed spotlights, as is the intricately-patterned trellis. The beauty of the floating bench is also enhanced with more lights tucked beneath.

7. Make a statement whilst keeping things cozy

heat lamp from cuckooland on modern deck

Looking for modern deck lighting ideas? This Heatsail Dome Freestanding Electric Patio Heater Floor Lamp from Cuckooland is ideal

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

If you're keen on keeping things cozy as well as lit-up, then a deck lighting idea like this might be the right option for you. The oversized lamp is definitely a statement and is great for an indoor-outdoor feel. Plus, it also works as a heater, so you can enjoy sitting beneath the stars well into the evening. 

Paired with sleek-lined furniture and a neutral palette, it's the perfect combination for modern garden ideas. And, if you fancy adding an additional dose of fun, why not try colored bulbs beneath a bench for a touch of Miami-chic style?

8. Add wall lights to your decking space

wall lamp above decking by DelightFULL

A contemporary scene from DelightFULL

(Image credit: DelightFULL)

If your decking extends from your home, then attaching wall lights to the exterior is a good option. These modern and minimal styles are made from iron and frame the wide door beautifully. But, there are plenty of more traditional designs on the market to complement a more classic theme.

Here, spotlights are inserted in the structure above too, for additional illumination. It's definitely a luxurious look, without feeling fussy.

Feeling inspired but wondering how much does decking cost? Our guide has all the info you need.

9. Embrace a nautical theme

cuckooland nautical lanterns on deck

These nautical lanterns by Cuckooland are full of charm

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Nautical themes and deck lighting ideas are a well-matched combination. These rope-detailed lanterns are a perfect example.

Featuring a globe shape and a chunky rope-netting cover, they offer a seaside look that works beautifully alongside the rustic nature of timber. Sturdy handles are useful for moving them around the space to suit. All you need to do is fill them with elegant pillar candles, sit back, and admire the glow.

10. Try oversized lanterns

large lantern outside she shed

A pretty set-up from Lights4fun

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Does your decking space include she shed ideas? Then take a cue from the scene above and incorporate an oversized lantern for instant style.

Galvanized designs are great for a vintage look, whilst matte black works well if you're after a modern and sophisticated vibe. Fill with candles – either real ones or LED if you want to avoid any fire hazards.

11. Make the most of a parasol

ikea lanterns hung from parasol

These deck lighting ideas are perfect for the summer – including the SOLVINDEN solar-powered lamps from Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

For a summertime illumination solution, try making the most of your garden parasol ideas

This classic design has been given the star treatment with a string of festoons and budget-friendly solar-powered lanterns, keeping the scene beneath feeling cozy and inviting. We love the mix of sizes used too, for a more eclectic look.

How far apart should you put decking lighting?

nedgis hanging pendant on decking alongside hanging chair

This pendant light from Nedgis casts a gentle glow

(Image credit: Nedgis)

If you're going for recessed deck lighting ideas, then it's important to space them correctly to achieve the right ambience for the space. Generally, this will be around 1.2m apart. Any closer and they can appear overwhelmingly dazzling, but too far apart and they won't be as effective.

Start in the corners, then fill in the gaps between at equal distances, from an equal distance from the edge of the decking. Measure and mark out the positioning before you get drilling to check you're happy with the design – sometimes odd numbers work better than even. 

When it's time to fix them, remember to take all necessary safety precautions. For example, don't turn them on until they are all safely secured, wear protective goggles when drilling, and, if an external 13 Amp plug socket needs to be installed, hire an electrician to do it for you. In fact, if you're in any doubt at all, calling in a professional is the best way forward.

For other types of deck lighting ideas, be wary of bringing too much brightness into the mix. This is especially the case with task lighting – for instance, porch lights. If you place more than one too close together, it can result in a rather sterile vibe. Building up your lighting scheme slowly, until it's just right, is a good approach if you're not hiring a professional landscape lighting company to take care of things. Need more info? Our guide on how much does garden lighting cost is full of useful tips.

Can you put lights in composite decking?

Just like with regular timber decking, you can put recessed deck lighting ideas in composite designs, too. Generally, the same tools and process can be used – but if you're unsure, your decking providers will be able to advise further.

However, Ben Gallizzi, energy expert at money.co.uk shares some good advice: 'Putting lights on any decking area will make it safer to use when it is dark but could potentially pose a very slight fire hazard.'

'Before anything goes up, especially on composite decking, it is key to check that the bulbs are fire-resistant. They can get pretty hot! Plastic content in composite decking makes the material a lot more flammable, but there are ways to reduce the risk.'

'Opting for an energy-efficient bulb will result in less energy being wasted in producing heat, thus reducing the risk of fire, whilst being better for the environment on the whole,' Ben continues. 'It will gently illuminate the area, adding extra prettiness to any space when the sun goes down.'

This type of decking is often chosen due to its easy-care nature – we've rounded up our top picks in our best composite decking buying guide.

Holly Crossley
Holly Crossley

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!