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Uplighting vs Downlighting: Landscape Lighting Compared

Choosing between uplighting and downlighting is more than simply deciding whether your lighting should be pointed upward or downward. The right choice of lighting design can highlight your favorite architectural features, and add an overall welcoming feel to your house. In this article, let’s dive into the main differences between uplighting and downlighting, as well as the possibility of combining the two.

What Is Uplighting?

Uplighting is essentially ground level outdoor lighting that is directed upwards. This type of light allows you to make the best elements of your home’s exterior more prominent, adding depth and dimension to the overall look. When you illuminate your favorite architectural elements (such as columns) and landscape features (such as trees and plants), you’re creating the desired effect without much hassle.

Uplighting is not only used for creating shadows and drawing attention to your beloved garden features. By pointing the light upward, you’re also adding more depth to any flat surfaces that simply lack dimension. Upward lighting can also create a sense of boundaries between different areas of your outdoor space, and add more lighting in your property for security purposes.

While uplighting can be used for larger areas, it is a much more convenient choice for emphasizing specific objects – especially the tall ones that rise from the ground up, including trellises, statutes, and pillars.

Directional Uplights

Directional uplights are lighting fixtures installed above the ground, usually on top of posts that are secured into the ground. This type of lighting will give you more control over the direction of the lighting, allowing you to point the lights directly toward the desired area or object.

These lights are also installed as subtle pathway lights, making your driveways and paths more accessible and secure at night.

Well Lights

Well lights, on the other hand, are installed at ground level, which makes them softer. However, due to its positioning, this lighting design is not the smartest choice for a flower bed and similar structures in your garden, as plants could easily cover them as they expand.

These lights are an excellent solution at the base of your garden fountain, statue, pavilions, or even around the pool. In addition to creating a beautiful ambiance in your garden or backyard, well lights also increase security in darker areas of your property.

Use Uplighting For:

• Driveways, paths, walkways, windows, doors, and other poorly lit areas to make them more accessible at night and increase security;
• Accentuating focal points, smaller garden areas, sculptures, porch columns, or even fountains, pools, and ponds;
• Creating a dramatic effect, captivating shadows, and contrast by directing the uplighting toward walls, pillars, porches, or any area or object that lacks depth;
• Adding more dimension to flat surfaces such as fences.

What Is Downlighting?

Directing the light downward is the preferred choice of many homeowners for safety and security purposes. Downlighting is mounted at a certain height, illuminating the desired area and increasing accessibility. It is particularly important for walkways, driveways, and patio spaces.

Downlights can be installed on any high point that fits your landscaping vision, whether it be porches, walls, or trees. In addition to its functionality, downlighting also plays a vital role in the overall aesthetic feel of your property. When positioned correctly, downlights can create a romantic ambiance that will truly make a difference in your landscaping.

Downlighting tends to be softer than uplighting, providing a less concentrated effect. It is, therefore, an ideal solution for illuminating larger areas and spaces, rather than creating contrast or concentrating on a single object.


Moonlighting design consists of strategically placed downlights that mimic the appearance of moonlight. It is soft, subtle, and effortless – yet absolutely captivating. The lights are positioned high enough to remain as gentle as the moonlight, while also being able to illuminate the entire area and add an extra layer of security.

This type of downlighting can be used to brighten your driveway, garden, or outdoor seating area without being overwhelming. It produces a calming, natural effect, which is precisely why it remains one of the most popular types of exterior lighting.

Use Downlighting For:

• Ground-level features such as bushes that cannot be uplit as they’re not tall enough, or in any other area that wouldn’t necessarily benefit from uplighting;
• Making certain areas such as patios, walkways, and driveways more accessible and secure at night;
• Creating a soft, natural, broad illuminating effect as opposed to a dramatic, contrasting one that would be focused on a single object;
• Illuminating a larger area such as a garden, outdoor seating area, swath, or an entire side of your house.

Uplighting And Downlighting: Can You Combine The Two?

Both uplighting and downlighting have very specific roles in exterior and landscape lighting. However, if you simply can’t make up your mind (and we don’t blame you!) and you’d like to feature both, it is good to know that they can certainly be combined in a way that won’t interfere with the overall look of your garden, backyard, or any outdoor area.

The key lies in deciding which areas should be illuminated from above, and which features would benefit from uplighting. As we’ve mentioned, downlighting is an excellent solution for larger areas, especially if you’re a fan of a lighting design that isn’t too overpowering.

You’ll want to downlight planting beds, hardscaping, subtle architectural elements, and anything that doesn’t require too much contrast. Uplighting, on the other hand, will make any element the focal point of your house exterior or garden. Whether it be trees, garden statues, or flagpoles – uplighting will ensure they don’t go unnoticed.

Downlighting can also create a captivating background for individual elements that you’ll uplight, which is an excellent technique for combining the two. Layered landscape lighting is perhaps the most natural lighting design that will give you a seamless, artistic result.


If you would like help coming up with the ideal lighting combo, or you’re torn between uplighting and downlighting, the keen eye of our lighting experts could be just what you need to transform your property. Call Blingle Premier Lighting today at 1-833-BLINGLE to book your free consultation!