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How to Light Up Trees In Your Yard (Like a Pro)

Uplighting Trees in Your Yard

You can use lighting in your yard to accent certain aspects of the exterior of your property. Lighting can create an ambiance to your yard while also highlighting the beautiful landscape that you’ve invested your time and energy in. The specific term for fixing a ground-level light on the trees or bushes in your yard is “uplighting.”

So, how do you light up trees in your yard? When it comes to uplighting the trees in your yard, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow to be successful:

  • Find the type of equipment you want to use to uplight your yard
  • Properly install light fixtures, cords, and transformers
  • Know how to angle the lights to provide the desired effect

Uplighting your landscape isn’t something you can just spontaneously decide to do; it requires research and manual labor to get the desired effect you wish for. In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about the uplighting process. Keep reading to learn more!

Finding the Right Equipment to Light The Trees In Your Yard

If you want to light up the trees in your landscape, having the right equipment is vital. The proper equipment will enable you to power lights all throughout your yard and on a set timer. What type of equipment do you need to uplight trees? Here is a list of the fixtures you’ll need to be able to light up the trees in your yard:

  • Landscape Spotlights
  • Transformer Box
  • Solar Panels
  • Shovel
  • Mulch

Understanding the role of each piece of equipment can help you make better decisions when it comes to deciding what you want. Here’s an in-depth look at the specific equipment you’ll need fo uplight your trees:

Landscape Spotlights

The light fixtures you’ll use to be at ground-level pointing up towards the tree. The best type of lightbulb to use in uplighting spotlights would be an LED lightbulb. LED lights are energy efficient, last a long time, inexpensive, and can produce a soft beam great for staging and displaying. They also produce less heat than a halogen bulb, which could be a potential fire hazard around mulch and shrubs.

Power Source

None of the spotlights in your yard will work if you don’t have a power source; luckily, there are a few different options to choose from when it comes to powering the uplighting fixtures in your landscape. The most popular power sources are standard electricity generated with a transformer or solar energy generated through solar panels.

There are pros and cons to both power source options. With a transformer, you won’t have to worry about how the weather may effect the lighting. It will also be a cheaper upfront cost but may also run up your electric bill. If you want to use the solar energy, you’ll have to pay more up front but you’ll also save more in the long run. You’ll also be contributing to a healthier energy source.

Gardening Tools

Lastly, you will need some gardening tools on hand to make installing your uplighting system a little easier. The best tools to have are shovels, stakes, hammers, and mulch. Trying to install lighting and cords without these tools can be difficult and time consuming. I’ll cover how these tools will be used in the upcoming sections.

How to Install Uplight Fixtures, Cords, and Transformers

Knowing how to properly install and lay the uplighting system you choose is important. A poorly installed system can make your landscape look messy and unkept. If you’ve properly installed your system, it should go largely unnoticeable. Here’s what you need to know about installing your uplight fixtures, cords, and transformers.

Installing Uplight Spotlights

The spotlights will perhaps be the most important aspect of your uplighting system. These lights will be installed around the base of your tree at ground-level. Usually, these spotlights have the light fixed onto of a spike that should be driven into the ground. However, don’t make the mistake of trying to hammer the light into the ground, as this can break your spotlight.

To properly place these spotlights in the ground, the best thing to do is create a hole that you can place the spotlight stake into. To do this, take a different metal stake and hammer it into the ground. When you pull the stake out, there should be a hole remaining where you can place the spotlight.

Installing Uplighting Cords

Whether you’re using standard-electricity or solar panels to power your spotlights, you’ll have cords to mess with either way. These cords are used to connect the lights to the power source. Cords can make your yard look messy and unappealing while also creating a safety hazard.

The best thing to do with your cords is to bury them. To do this, first start by taking a shovel and digging about 6-inches down in the place the cord will lay. Next, place the cord in the hole and cover it with mulch or rocks. This will hide your cords while still enabling them to provide the proper function.

Another thing that can blemish your yard are mushrooms! Mushrooms like to grow at night when dew has settled over the ground. Mushrooms can also be a good indication of mold in your area. To learn about keeping mushrooms out of your yard, read my article How Do I Keep Mushrooms Out of My Yard? Quick & Easy.

Installing Uplighting Transformers or Solar Panels

Installing solar panels and transformers are two different processes. When it comes to installing solar panels that are powering your uplight spotlights, they most often will be attached to a stake so that they can be secured to the ground. Find a place in your yard that gets long hours of direct sunlight and place the spotlight there. Do the same as you did with the spotlights, first driving a metal stake into the ground then removing it so that you can place the solar panel stake into the hole.

For a transformer, you’ll want to install the power box close to an outdoor outlet on your house or garage. This can be done with nails and a hammer. The transformer box will need to be able to plug into the outlet. Make sure this outlet has a waterproof covering to avoid safety hazards.

How to Properly Angle Lights Used to Uplight Trees In Your Yard

When it comes to uplighting the trees in your yard, you can’t just throw some spotlights up and think it will look good. Many people consider uplighting an art in that you need to find exactly how to angle the lights to create an effective ambiance and look. Here’s what you need to know:

Where Do You Aim the Spotlight for Tree Uplighting?

Uplighting is designed to create a showing effect and to establish an ambiance. If you have a spotlight simply aimed at the trunk of a tree, it isn’t going to create much of an effect. When it comes to aiming the spotlights for tree uplighting, you should aim the light towards the branches of the tree. This will cause the light to fall on a larger area of surface. A good rule of thumb is to aim the light where the branches start to protrude from the tree trunk.

How Far Away Do You Place the Spotlights From the Tree?

The distance from which you place the spotlight from the tree varies depending on the height of the tree. Regardless, the spotlights should never be directly around the base of the tree trunk, as they would then have to shine directly upward and wouldn’t create the desired shadowing effect. Most uplighting packages will often contain instructions on how close you should place the lights to the trees you want to light up. Follow these guidelines and do some experimenting to see what you prefer.

Know What Lumens to Use to Best Light the Tree

Lumen is the term of measurement that determines the amount of visible light in an area. When it comes to uplighting landscape, you’ll have to be familiar with lumens and how you should adjust or change the output of visible light from the spotlights. The taller the tree, the more lumens will need to be used to properly light the surface of the tree.

Just like uplighting, there are many of fixtures and features you can add to your yard to improve the look to the exterior of your property. Another such fixture is a fence. To learn more, read my article Top 10 Reasons to Install a Fence Around Your Yard.

Written By

Hi there! My name is Matt and I write for American Lawns. I've been a home owner for over 15 years. I've also had the pleasure of working with some experts in lawn care and outdoor living. I enjoy writing about everything related to your lawn, pests and types of grass. In my spare time, I'm either spending time with my family, doing a DIY project or learning a new skill.