Path lighting ideas: 10 beautiful designs to light up the walkways in your backyard

Our edit of path lighting ideas will get you inspired to give your own garden a glow, from modern styles to lanterns plus more

path lighting ideas: Pyrus calleryana 'Chanticleer' trees with uplighting
(Image credit: mike jarman/Alamy Stock Photo)

If your garden has a path – and most do – introducing path lighting ideas is a must. And if you're on the lookout for inspiration, you've come to the right place.

Lighting, no matter where it's positioned, is a reliable way to elevate the aesthetic of a backyard when the sun goes down. But when it comes to illuminating your garden path ideas, the result becomes practical as well as pretty. After all, no one wants to trip over a stepping stone or stumble into a nearby flowerbed on their way from A to B. Providing a source of light, even if it's not much more than a subtle glow, can help prevent any mishaps.

There are all kinds of options out there too, from copper-hued styles tucked amongst planting to sleek recessed LEDs that will do the job without fuss. This means it's easy to find a look that fits perfectly with your theme.

10 path lighting ideas to illuminate the way in style

To help you get inspired, we've rounded up a gorgeous mix of outdoor path lighting ideas for you to peruse.

1. Uplight the surrounding trees

Garden feature Arch at night with holly trees lit and gates leading into lawn area with illuminated Gazebo

Uplight trees along your path for a dramatic effect

(Image credit: Francisco Martinez/Alamy Stock Photo)

Is your pathway lined with small trees – perhaps acers, olives, or hollies? Try introducing a series of uplights as part of your outdoor lighting ideas. Tucked at the base of each trunk, they'll highlight the foliage and form, creating instant visual interest and drama.

This approach works well for all kinds of layouts – from naturalistic, meandering pathways with a woodland feel, to modern, stepping stone set-ups like the one above, where anything more elaborate would feel a little out of place. You could try it with trees planted in containers too – they will up the impact of any path.

2. Add recessed lights to decked walkways

deck lighting with fire pit and bench

Recessed lighting works well for a fuss-free look

(Image credit: Francisco Martinez/Alamy Stock Photo)

Recessed lighting is a fantastic addition to contemporary pathways. And they're particularly useful if you're working with a small space, as they don't take up any extra room. 

They can be installed as part of your deck lighting ideas, as shown here, or into paving or edging along a walkway for a smart and streamlined result. They're useful for illuminating garden steps, too – a must when night falls to avoid any safety hazards.

3. Create a party vibe with colorful festoons

multicolored festoons along path from lights4fun

These festoon lights from Lights4fun add a relaxed tone to this space

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

If you fancy using your path lighting ideas to create a more celebratory feel, then how about stringing up some festoons? Multi-colored styles will instantly give your space a joyful, festival vibe, whilst warm, large-bulbed looks are great for a sense of laid-back, industrial cool. Go for outdoor-suitable styles that can be left out all year round.

Festoon lights or even outdoor fairy lights are perfect for lighting up a pathway, as says Thalia Shaw, owner of Sparkle Lighting. 'These can be used along a fence if there is one, or you can use shepherd hooks to hang them from if there is no wall or fence available.'

There are lots more festoon light ideas in our guide.

4. Go for a calm and contemporary approach

nedgis modern lighting along path

(Image credit: Nedgis)

These bollard lights strike the perfect balance with their tough concrete design and soft, warm light. We think they'd be perfect alongside modern garden ideas, lining a paved path in a similar hue made from porcelain or stone. 

These ones are dimmable too, which means you have ultimate control over the ambience of your yard. Pair with a minimal palette of planting – perhaps ferns or ornamental grasses – to extend the stripped-back yet well-considered feel.

5. Illuminate a fence alongside your path

Pyrus calleryana 'Chanticleer' trees with uplighting

The Pyrus calleryana 'Chanticleer' trees that line this smart path look lovely when lit up

(Image credit: mike jarman/Alamy Stock Photo)

Walkways often work well when tucked to the side of a plot, alongside a garden fence. If this is the case in your backyard, then that fence (or indeed, wall) can be utilized as part of your lighting solution.

Pleached trees are a popular way to soften a boundary whilst boosting the privacy levels with their additional height. And, as demonstrated here, adding lights to them can make a beautiful finishing flourish. 

If pleached trees aren't for you, you could use your garden boundaries to support festoons, as mentioned above. Alternatively, if you're working with a wall, you might consider a series of wall lights. They'll cast gentle pools of light onto your pathway and there are lots of stylish designs to choose from – our buying guide to the best outdoor wall lights is a good place to start your search.

6. Try a smart silver style

metal path lights from garden trading

Smarten up your paths with the St Ives Mast Path Light from Garden Trading

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Shiny silver is a surefire way to add a touch of luxe to your path lighting ideas. Look for designs made from galvanized steel to ensure they last the test of time – these ones have also been dipped in molten zinc which gives them their distinctive appearance.

The flat base of these lights means they can be easily secured to the ground below. Here, it's been disguised with gravel for a neat effect. And speaking of the gravel, we like how it provides a striking contrast against the metal, as does the dry stone wall behind.

Like the look? You can find more garden gravel ideas in our guide.

7. Add height with post lights

garden trading post light alongside path

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

If you're looking for a bit more of a statement when it comes to your path lights, opt for a design that offers more height. This one is designed for modern plots, and when spaced evenly along walkways will make a striking feature.

We're a fan of the caged design that evokes a subtly nautical feel, whilst the cool black tone keeps things versatile, meaning it will look great in all kinds of surroundings.

Pair with a contemporary selection of the best garden furniture to complete the scene in style.

8. Turn up the magic with solar-powered dandelion designs

dandelion lights along path from sparkle lighting

(Image credit: Sparkle Lighting)

Thalia Shaw, owner of Sparkle Lighting, suggests putting solar stake lights on either side of your pathway to light the way. 'There is no need to charge them,' she says, 'you just need to make sure that the solar panel is getting plenty of sunshine.' These dandelion designs are a lovely option, emitting a soft and twinkling glow.

For many designs, 'you don't even have to remember to put them on or off as they have an inbuilt timer,' she adds. A great solution if you're on the lookout for low maintenance garden ideas.

9. Pick a color to complement your planting

lighting and lavender along path

Bright purple and warm copper make a stylish color combo

(Image credit: Avalon.red/Alamy Stock Photo)

If your path is flanked with flowerbeds, opt for a lighting solution that will complement the colors. Check out these hammered copper designs, for instance: the warm tone offsets the opulently-purple lavender beautifully. They would also look striking alongside verdant green foliage or hot-toned blooms.

If you're going for galvanized designs, consider pairing them with silvery foliage and plenty of white flowers – gaura, cosmos, Helichrysum italicum and Eryngium giganteum 'Silver Ghost', for instance.

Need more flowerbed ideas inspo? You'll find plenty in our feature.

10. Line with lanterns

path lined with lanterns with parasol at end

Use a variety of lanterns for a laid-back look

(Image credit: Lizzie Orme/Future)

It might not be a permanent solution, but lining a pathway with lanterns is a quick and easy way to make the journey from A to B feel a bit more magical.

Mix up the shapes and styles for a boho feel – we love the array of heights used here. Fill with outdoor LED candles rather than real flames, that way you won't need to worry about fire risks.

It's a lovely way to brighten up a special occasion outdoors – perhaps a birthday or even a backyard wedding.

How far apart should path lights be?

Getting the spacing between your path lights right is important for the best results. The Home Depot advises to use a tape measure to lay out your lights evenly before you install them. However, the optimum measurements for spacing will depend on individual factors such as the fixtures' shape and brightness, so they suggest to check the manufacturer's specifications for advice. Solar lights, for instance, may need to be spaced closer together to create enough light.

They also advise to position your lights no more than six inches from the edge of your path to ensure they illuminate it properly at nighttime.

solar powered lights from garden trading along path

These Putney Solar Path lights from Garden Trading are smart and low-maintenance

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

How do you install lighting into a decked path?

Considering using decking ideas for your paths? 'Deck lighting is the perfect way to finish a decked space and gives the opportunity to showcase garden paths and frame zones created in your outdoor space,' says Charles Taylor, director at Composite Prime.

'The installation of deck lighting is simple but requires precise planning to position the lights. Lights can be inset into the top of the boards, or set into the fascia boards to give an impactful finish.'

'Both LED strip downlights and inset spotlights offer stunning results,' Charles continues. 'Inset light spacing should be followed consistently and are generally set around the decking perimeter approximately 300–400mm [12–16in] apart. Strip lighting can be placed under an overhanging edge or under a bullnose board; these lights work best when illuminating steps and edges.'

light up composite deck steps from composite prime

An illuminated set of steps, using composite decking from Composite Prime

(Image credit: Composite Prime)

How bright should path lighting be?

Typically, around 100 to 200 lumens is recommended for path lights, as says The Home Depot. However, there are some additional factors to consider.

As Lightology explains, you'll need to take the overall brightness of your garden into consideration to decide how bright your path lights need to be. For instance, in urban gardens surrounded by streetlights, you'll likely need brighter path lights to make them stand out. In rural areas, less is often more when it comes to illuminating walkways: 1–3 watts of LED for every 10 feet should be just about right.

The way you plan to use them also factors into the optimum level of brightness. Solely decorative designs call for fewer lumens, whilst if you want your lights to double up as security solutions, you'll need them to be brighter, as suggests The Home Depot.

You can find more tips on how to plan garden lighting in our 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!