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One of the most delightful aspects of our outdoors is the captivating ambiance. Many gardens include a place to sit such as a deck from where you can appreciate the garden views. Deck lighting is crucial for nighttime enjoyment. Whether it is for outdoor dining or simply as a place to unwind after a long day’s work, there are numerous lighting options.

In this article, we explore some outdoor deck lighting ideas.

Deck Lighting Techniques & Ideas

For a well-rounded lighting design, consider layering different lighting techniques. Seat wall lighting, path and step lighting for safety, uplighting to highlight pedestals/posts/pedestals, and downlighting to provide functional and task lighting.

You should provide sufficient lighting for navigation (ambient lighting), for tasks such as grilling (task lighting), and aesthetics (accent lighting).

The pillars and crossbeams of an overhead pergola serve as an excellent platform for fixture installation with all wiring and fixtures concealed.

Uplights attached to the bottom of pergola posts or installed in the flooring can accentuate the architectural features of the structure.


Overhead lighting is the most natural way we experience lighting. Downlights can be mounted on trees, overhanging pergola crossbeams, or the house itself. This softly casts light onto the deck area.

By placing downlight fixtures high up a tree, you can mimic a moonlit effect even on moonless nights. The result is a breathtaking display of light filtering through the leaves and branches to cast soft light and a shadow pattern on your decking surface.

Step lighting

Step lighting ensures safety. Tread lights are integrated into the riser or the lip of the step to illuminate the step below with a soft glow.

Steps deck lighting

Deck post lights

Another area to consider for lighting is the atop or under deck posts to give off a warm and inviting glow. Cap lights, as they are known, come in a variety of styles and colors to complement your deck.

Installing fixtures on the railing of a deck is another popular option for larger decks and stair railings. These small yet powerful fixtures can be customized to match the deck’s finish, blending seamlessly during the day.

Wall sconces can also be installed on posts and columns supporting a deck pergola.

Deck post lights

Bistro lighting

Bistro or string lighting is another widely favored option for lighting decks with pergolas.

Deck lights

LED strip lights

LED strip lights can be discreetly tucked beneath your deck railings, stair treads and to highlight the deck’s perimeter. Their tape-like nature creates a uniform light spread across a relatively large area.

Besides decks and stairs, this versatile option also works well for outdoor kitchens and bars.

Strip lights

Light under the bench

Benching provides an ideal place to put lighting for a deck. Undercap lights illuminate the decking surface beneath your bench.

Beyond the deck lighting

Remember, as you relax on your deck, your view extends beyond its boundaries to the surrounding landscape. Don’t let it fade into darkness. Illuminate your favorite garden plants, trees, shrubs, stone boulders, and other landscape features accentuating their beauty in the nighttime ambiance. Flower beds encircling your deck can be transformed into ethereal scenes.

Remember, too, that the view from another spot in the garden should be taken into account. It may well be possible to combine deck lighting with lighting for the house itself, thereby creating something to be looked at.

Preventing glare

Glare can easily spoil a relaxing evening on your deck. The key lies in strategic fixture placement and concealing the fixtures within plantings.

Select fixtures that provide the necessary amount of light without excessive glare. Carefully choose fixtures that direct light precisely where needed and employ glare shields, louvers, and hex baffles to minimize glare.

Incorporate dimmers

To create the perfect ambiance for a romantic evening on your deck, consider incorporating dimmers. Dimmed lights provide an ideal backdrop for candlelight and outdoor fireplaces.

Whether it’s adjusting the bistro lighting on your pergola or fine-tuning the downlighting, you have complete control over the level of illumination to create the desired mood.

Light it up

The goal of deck lighting is to provide ample light at night without disrupting visual appeal. To ensure a successful lighting setup, I recommend enlisting the expertise of an experienced lighting contractor.

With proper lighting, an outdoor deck becomes an extension of your home. 

George Gitau

Meet George, an advocate for traditional craftsmanship. I will provide you with educational content, techniques and ideas for your next garden and home improvement project. Together, let's create beautiful spaces that are not only beautiful but also functional

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