OUTDOOR LIGHTING APPROACHES
To decide how to light your space, you need to look at the whole view and decide what you want to emphasize. Think of the area as a painting and decide which elements ought to draw the attention. As you do this, here are some principles to keep in mind.
You don't usually want artificial light to look artificial. Ideally, the effect will be that of a brightly moonlit night , or perhaps of fireflies flitting through the garden. This means you don't want the lighting to draw attention to itself. Instead, it should quietly expose whatever it's pointed at so that the eye is naturally drawn to that object. This kind of lighting should display your artistic composition.
Sometimes, however, it is fun to play with artifice. You may wish to go for a "magical" effect. Lights in soft pastels can transform the view in a way moonlight never could.
Or you may wish to try for a classical or Art Deco effect in which the lighting is part of the composition. Artistically designed fixtures, shining upward into a tree can create a whole picture that is more than just the tree alone.
In general, though, spotlights do not provide the most pleasing effect for the eye. Use them sparingly. If security is a goal, consider motion sensitive lights rather than spotlights that remain on.
Divide your composition into foreground, middle ground, and background. Decide which elements in each you wish to highlight. Consider how it will look out the window of your house and to a visitor standing at the far end.
Don't try to light everything. The eye won't know what to be drawn to. Black space is as important as light. But don't forget to light at least one element in each of the three areas-front, middle, and back. This will tie the whole composition together.
Some natural choices to pick might be a flower bed, a walkway, or a tree.
You may also want to light the house itself. Lighting from underneath can prove more effective than lighting overhead. Overhead lighting will show off the yard and the ground. But lighting from below can draw the eye upward along the walls of the house and even up the chimney.
Add some variation to your designs. A straight row of lights on either side of a walkway can look like a landing strip. Adding a little wave or curve to the rows is an easy way to make the view more interesting.
Lastly, consider how to light the perimeter in a way that defines the space. You don't want the eye to go beyond the edges of your composition, especially if those edges involve an alleyway or street. Lights at the perimeter that shine back into the are can help define the borders and make your work of art complete