Landscape Lighting for Trees

Should You Invest in Landscape Lighting for Trees?

If the trees around your house are nothing but dark shadows in the evening, you may be considering lighting them. Landscape lighting for trees can dramatically improve the look of your landscape. When lit appropriately, trees can be one of the most attractive things about your property at night.

Whether you want to install lots of different kinds of landscape lighting or you’re just thinking about landscape lighting for trees, it's a very good idea to light up your trees. Here are a few of the reasons why lighting trees works so well, as well as some considerations for lighting trees properly.

Why Landscape Lighting for Trees is a Good Idea

There are a wide variety of choices that you can make in landscape lighting, so why should you consider landscape lighting for trees? Here are a few of the key reasons why you may want to select lighting for trees over other types of lighting or in combination with your other landscape lighting choices.

American National Sprinkler & Lighting - landscape lighting for trees on a tree in the front of a home in Lake County, IL.

Landscape Lighting for Trees Can Make a Big Impact

Lighting up your signature trees is one of the most impressive displays that you can achieve in a home or business landscape, improving the look of your home and raising your property value. Trees can become very dramatic in the evening when lit appropriately.

The curves of tree trunks and branches become like architectural art. The canopy has an effect like an outdoor ceiling when lit from below. If you want to make a big impression with your landscape lighting, lighting trees is a great way to do it.

Lighting Up Trees Provides Gentle Ambient Light

One of the goals of landscape lighting is to make a space more usable and easier to navigate. However, you don't want sharp, direct light that can look more like a spotlight than an artistic accent. Lighting cast on trees tends to provide a gentle glow to the surrounding area.

Lighting shone onto the underside of the trees’ canopy can offer an especially charming effect as the light reflects down. It can almost look like the tree is casting a shadow made of light.

Offer a Splash of Color

Many signature trees are chosen for the color in their foliage, offering beautiful shades of red, yellow, silver or orange for most of the year. Other trees change color dramatically in the fall or grow fruit or flowers that offer bright accents to the landscape. Lighting these trees throws a beautiful array of color into the evening landscape.

How Can Trees Be Lit With Landscape Lighting?

Tree lighting is extremely versatile. There are a wide range of ways that different kinds of trees can be highlighted:

  • Single accent light for small trees. Very small trees look great when lit by a single accent light placed at the base of the trunk. The light can shine up the trunk and into the foliage near the bottom of the tree.
  • Two accent lights that intersect with one another for medium-sized trees. For medium-sized trees, two accent lights set at a small distance from one another and aimed midway up the trunk and into the foliage is a great solution. The intersecting beams of light create a charming effect and cover the entire underside of foliage.
  • Several lights for uplighting large trees. If you are lighting a very large tree with a wide canopy and a significant trunk, it's a good idea to use three or four lights. Two or three of the lights should be good-sized lights with a wide beam aimed at the foliage. At least one light should be smaller and placed at the base of the trunk, aiming up the trunk to show off the texture in the bark.
  • Away from base lighting for cone-shaped trees or to emphasize foliage. If your goal is to show off the shape of the tree or the color of the leaves, it works well to place the lights at a distance from the trunk and shine them onto the main part of the tree. Depending on the size of the tree, two to four lights may be appropriate.
  • Wash lighting for scenes. Trees are often incorporated into a garden scene that you want to illuminate. Lighting that comes from in front and washes over the entire scene works very well for these spaces. This way, you'll be able to see the color and shape of the tree as well as any shrubs, flower beds, or ground cover in front of or around the trees.
  • Silhouette lighting for trees in front of structures. If you have trees located in front of the house, shed, wall, or fence, it can work very well to place the lighting in front of the tree and shine it directly at the tree so that it creates a striking shadow on the structure.
  • Intense beams for landscape lighting for tall trees. When lighting a tall, narrow tree, such as a pine, it works very well to use an intense beam that shoots up the trunk of the tree. For such trees, the focus is less on lighting the foliage and more on drawing out detail in the trunk.
  • Light clusters of trees from behind for impact. Lighting from behind is a great way to create a dramatic effect. This is a challenging technique because you want to effectively light the cluster of trees without blinding whoever is looking at them. However, when done properly, this is one of the most dramatic and impactful effects you can create.
  • Wash perimeter trees with light. If you have trees at the perimeter of your property, washing them with light is a great way to create a charming backdrop for your yard. Furthermore, this kind of perimeter lighting increases safety by creating a wall of light to deter criminals.

When to Use a Wide vs. Narrow Focus

One of the most difficult decisions that your landscape lighting services company will need to make when they are lighting your trees is whether to use a wide or a narrow focus. Here are a few considerations in when to use either type of focus:

Wide Focus

Create a gentle glow that smooths out details

Offer soft, often overlapping shadows

Draw attention to a scene

Has a far reach even if there are obstacles in the way

Create ambient lighting to light a space as well as lighting the tree

Works well to light a large tree

Narrow Focus

Build more contrast and texture

Deliver sharper shadows

Draw attention to specific details

Can easily be blocked by a branch or thick patch of foliage

Doesn’t spread much ambient light, making it a good option for when lots of lights are being used in an area

Best when used for smaller trees or to light only part of a larger tree

Install Landscape Lighting on Your Own or Hire a Professional?

If you enjoy gardening and tinkering with electronics, you may wonder whether you should install your own landscape lighting for trees. After all, you know your trees best, so why shouldn't you be the one to install lighting for them?

In reality, you may find it a lot more challenging to install landscape lighting for your trees effectively than you think. Choosing the right lights and installing them appropriately to create the effect that you want can be very difficult.

Even if lights look great from one angle, you may approach the scene from another angle and realize that you've created a very unpleasant glare or even a hazard by shining a light into a road. Your neighbors are unlikely to thank you if lights end up overshooting the targeted tree and radiating into their windows or porches.

Furthermore, there are important safety considerations to think about when installing landscape lighting. Lighting that is installed in or near lawns can be hit by a lawnmower or weed wacker, presenting the possibility of damage to the light or wires or even a risk of electrocution. Lights that are placed within flower beds may be at risk of being hit when the ground is turned over or flowers are replaced.

A professional knows just how to install lighting to create the best possible effect from multiple viewing angles and eliminate potential safety hazards. Furthermore, the lights that are installed by a professional are much more likely to look consistently great across your landscape and last a long time.

Search Us to Find the Best Landscape Lighting Services Near Me

American National Sprinkler & Lighting has extensive experience installing all kinds of beautiful lighting, including landscape lighting for trees, for Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. We have a team of over 20 highly qualified technicians who will be at your service to install and maintain landscape lighting. For over 40 years, we have been installing the best landscape lighting, and we know exactly what works in your area and how to install lighting that is made to last.