Pool lighting ideas: 10 ways to illuminate your backyard swimming pool

Make the most of your swimming area with these pool lighting ideas – there are styles for all sorts of plots

pool with lanterns
(Image credit: Tetra Images, LLC/Alamy Stock Photo)

Pool lighting ideas can be a bit of an afterthought when first planning one of these backyard features – but they shouldn't be. Installing lights both in and around your pool is crucial to take the space from day to night effortlessly, and there are lots of stunning looks that can be achieved.

In fact, you don't even need to be using your pool to appreciate a good lighting scheme – lit up beneath the stars it can make a dramatic feature in itself and a real accent to the nighttime garden when entertaining alfresco. Of course, there's safety to consider, too – you'll want to be able to see the water whether you're walking around the zone or swimming within it.

Although there are plenty of simple, functional solutions for illuminating a pool, there are lots of lighting looks that will add tons of character and ambiance to the setting, too. There really is a style to suit all kinds of backyard pool ideas.

10 dazzling pool lighting ideas to bring your outdoor living zone to life

These beautiful outdoor lighting ideas are both pretty and practical for installing in and around your pool.

1. Add flickering flames around your pool

pool with fire bowls

These fire features provide striking accents

(Image credit: TerryJ/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

A gorgeous way to make an impact with your pool is to frame it with statement fire bowls, as seen here. 

Your swimming experience will instantly be enhanced as the flickering flames cast a beautiful light across the surface of the water. Plus, they'll provide warmth to a nearby patio, too, for cozy nighttime socializing outdoors.

We also love how a nearby screen of plants has been lit up from beneath to show off the texture and form of the foliage. This enhances the tropical-inspired pool landscaping after dark.

2. Light up the walkway alongside your pool

pool with deck lighting

Recessed spotlights light up the way

(Image credit: caia image/Alamy Stock Photo)

Safety is a priority when navigating to and from your pool at night, meaning you need sufficient lighting to see where you're going (and not accidentally fall in). 

This is a very chic solution – a row of recessed spotlights to line the side of raised decking. The warm pools of light highlight the patina of the boards beneath, and the uniformity brings a sense of modernity and order to the scene. 

Meanwhile, a large, bright pool light submerged in the water ensures that everyone can see its boundaries clearly and makes it possible to have a late-night swim safely.

3. Go for a sense of magic by lighting up nearby trees

swimming pool at night with fairylights around nearby tree

Twinkling string lights up the ambiance

(Image credit: Moodboard Stock Photography/Alamy Stock Photo)

Outdoor string lights are one of our favorite ways to make a space feel that little bit more enchanting. And they're so versatile and affordable, too.

Here, they have been woven around a cluster of trees adjacent to the pool for a twinkly, magical view from all angles, which shimmers across the water. 

Simple submerged spotlights allow the pool to glow enticingly, while sleek wall lights attached to the exterior of the home add an extra boost of illumination while complementing the contemporary vibe of the setup well. 

4. Create a sense of romance with lanterns around your pool

pool with lanterns

This romantic setup comes to life at dusk

(Image credit: Tetra Images, LLC/Alamy Stock Photo)

It can be tricky to choose between the best outdoor lights – there are so many options available that will transform a space come nightfall. But sometimes, you can't beat going back to basics with oversized lanterns filled with candles (either real or LED). En masse, they create a romantic, fairytale-like vibe that's hard to resist.

Dot them around the perimeter of your pool for a truly enchanting scene that will be a joy to spend time in after dark. By layering the light from the lanterns with functional yet warm-hued uplights and classic underwater pool lights, this setup really comes to life once the sun sets.

5. Install wall lights

illuminated pool by Mermaid Pools

A stylish setup featuring a pool from Mermaid Pools, members of SPATA

(Image credit: Mermaid Pools/SPATA)

Here is another example of how outdoor wall lights can play a key role in pool lighting ideas.

If your swimming pool is close to your home, a garden wall, or a pool house, then it's definitely worth utilizing the space for this type of lighting. From timeless, ornate designs to minimal metal, there are all kinds of styles to suit the exterior of your home and your landscaping plans.

Combine them with spotlights bordering the pool walls for an extra dose of illumination.

6. Light up a nearby structure with festoons and pendant lights

stock tank pool by Cowboy Pools with festoon lights and garden structure

This inviting outdoor living scene features a stock tank pool from Cowboy Pools

(Image credit: Cowboy Pools)

If you love a laidback, beach-bar aesthetic, it's worth perusing our guide to the best festoon lights. With their welcoming glow, they're ideal for upping the ambiance around your pool.

Swag them around a pergola or a fence nearby. We like the stylish pendant light in this scene, too, for a statement focal point. It's a great way to boost the surroundings of a stock tank pool – a design that is totally on-trend right now.

7. Utilize steps and waterfalls for dramatic lighting

pool with waterfall and steps with lighting by Tanby Pools

The waterfall and steps in this pool by Tanby Pools (members of SPATA) become a real focal point at night

(Image credit: Tanby Pools/SPATA)

A pool waterfall is a lovely way to level up a pool, adding a calming aesthetic and a soothing sound that blocks out noisy neighbors, as well as helping to circulate the water to combat algae.

If you've added one to your pool plans, consider making the most of the feature by adding lighting. That way, the moving water can still be admired after dark. We think you'll agree that the result is certainly eye-catching, especially when combined with illuminated steps on either side, too.

8. Opt for modern styles

pool with modern lanterns and pergola

Look for solar-powered outdoor lanterns for ease 

(Image credit: onurdongel/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

If you like the idea of lanterns but prefer a contemporary style, then something like this could be the perfect pool lighting solution for you.

The streamlined shape complements the sleek lines of the pool and nearby pergola well. And the soft glow they create is perfect for setting the right tone at a pool party

'To give your space a lavish vibe, why not incorporate solar-powered lanterns?' says the team at luxury outdoor furniture brand, Harbour Lifestyle. 'Contemporary and elegant, solar lanterns are the ideal lighting solution, and accessory, for your patio or deck. Simply place them in a corner, or at the edge of a furniture piece, for an angular look that feels chic during the daytime, and cozy when the stars begin to shine.'

What's more, with solar designs, you don't have to worry about plug sockets and can dot them around your pool patio to suit. You can find lots more patio lighting ideas in our dedicated feature.

9. Integrate lights into your pool patio

pool with decking lights by Mermaid Pools

 A sleek setup by Mermaid Pools, members of SPATA

(Image credit: Mermaid Pools/SPATA)

Another modern way to light up a pool deck or patio is to opt for recessed spotlights. These square designs are just right for the sleek, gray pavers, mapping out the entire perimeter of the pool and turning it into a feature point for the garden at night.

They continue throughout the garden, too – look to the patio beyond – meaning the lighting scheme for the entire plot feels cohesive.

To complete such a chic look, it's important to keep the pool itself clean. Our roundup of the best pool vacuums has plenty of top choices to invest in – a must-have for the job.

10. Elevate the pool scene with landscape lighting

Pool by XL Pools with landscaping lighting

 Landscaping lights create a beautiful ambiance for this pool area, by SPATA members XL Pools

(Image credit: XL Pools/SPATA)

One of the most common approaches to landscaping with lights is to illuminate trees and other large ornamental plants – bringing their branches and foliage to life for a dramatic effect. So if you have some around your pool, then it's well worth considering this technique.

Experiment with different hues for extra impact – perhaps a pinkish or orange glow for a tropical scheme, for instance. Remember that cooler-toned lights have a tendency to feel harsh and unwelcoming though, so stick to warmer hues for your pool lighting ideas for a more inviting vibe.

What type of pool lights can you get?

As well as all the different types of lighting you can add around your pool, there are a few different styles that you can have installed actually in the pool itself.

Above ground pools can be lit up with special lighting kits, including magnetic ones.

For inground pools, you can opt for LED, halogen, or fiberoptic designs.

LEDs can be the most expensive to install but they last a long time. Plus, you can get them in multiple colors – some even change color and can be automated to put on light shows for a fun effect. Halogen lights are brighter and cheaper to buy but less energy efficient, explains Swimmingpool.com. Plus, they note how the bulbs can run hot – which can be an unpleasant surprise for swimmers.

Fiberoptic lights have the benefit of having the power source and bulbs situated away from the water, making maintenance and repairs easy. Again, you can get different colors and spectacular light shows, but the light does tend to be quite dim, so it's more for aesthetics than for practicality.

You can also look for floating solar-powered lights to add to your pool (try Amazon). These aren't a permanent solution, but they will boost the look of your pool and there are different shapes and designs available, from glowing orbs to colorful lotus flowers.

illuminated backyard pool

There is a variety of pool lights to choose from

(Image credit: Steve Sparrow/Image Source/Getty Images)

How many pool lights do you need?

According to Swimmingpool.com, the size of your pool will dictate the number of lights you'll need. They explain how 15’ x 30’ pools only require one light, while 20’ x 40’ pools need two. 

Pools that are 20’ x 42’ or larger will need three or more lights to be sufficiently illuminated.

lit up swimming pool at night with palm trees

The bigger the pool, the more lights you will need

(Image credit: moodboard/Image Source/Getty Images)

Can you add pool lights to an existing pool?

Feeling inspired by underwater pool lighting ideas and fancy adding some to an existing pool? It's worth noting that an entire remodel is often necessary and installation needs to be done by professionals for safety, making it quite an expensive and lengthy job. That's why it's best to factor it in at the very start of the pool design process.

However, there are lots of ways to light up the surrounding area, as demonstrated above, which won't require much, if any, building work. And don't forget about floating solar-powered pool lights too, which provide an easy update.

Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

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.