Jazzing up your yard with lights

Outdoor lighting can allow playing and partying to continue in your yard when darkness sets in.

Lighting also can create different “rooms” in your backyard, without shining spotlights all over your property — and potentially annoying neighbors. You can select simple fixtures or work with professionals to create elaborate lighting plans for your yard.

Beyond placing mounted lights, pendants and ceiling fans on porches and decks, here are five ways to illuminate outdoor spaces.

1. Get the trees twinkling.

Bringing attention to trees doesn’t just have to happen during the holidays. Wrapping trees with string LED lights creates a twinkle effect, said Jim Burks, president of Atlanta-based Pinnacle Lighting Group. Companies such as Brilliance have low-voltage lights that can be used to illuminate trees and other outdoor spaces. Other retailers with LED decorative light strands for year-round use include Bed Bath & Beyond ($59.99).

2. Look to lanterns.

Lanterns are another option, to hang or display on a table. West Elm, for example, has porcelain lanterns (retails for $19-49, westelm.com). Frontgate offers an aluminum lantern with a bamboo motif holding a 4-by-6 inch candle, in bronze, melon, turquoise or white ($149, frontgate.com).

3. Think soft and subtle.

Around areas such as hot tubs and swings where you don’t need or want glaring light, seek lighting that offers more of a “moonlight” effect, Burks said. Moonlighting involves positioning lights in the tops of trees shining downward, to create soft shadows instead of glaring beams of light. But first, look at the existing lighting on your property, as well as in your neighbors’ yards. “Even sometimes neighbors’ lights shine across,” he said. In another outdoor space, Pinnacle Lighting Group hung an outdoor chandelier custom made from a wooden wagon wheel about 20 feet behind a swing.

4. Add floor lamps.

Outdoor floor lamps can bring a decorative touch and light to patios, decks and screened porches. Home improvement retailers sell outdoor floor lamps made of durable materials such as resin and a variety of shades. Also, look for styles that connect with the outdoors. Kansas-based Eangee Home Design (eangee.com) sells floor lamps with shades made of dried cocoa leaves and threads from the abaca plant. The lamp, on a powder-coated frame, can withstand moisture, if used on a screened porch.

5. Plant some lights.

Light sets such as Bed Beth & Beyond’s Solar Sun & Moon Mini Planter Light Set ($19.99, bedbathandbeyond.com) can add ambiance by illuminating a garden during the evening.