Installing paver lighting is one of the best ways to enhance the beauty and functionality of your outdoor living space. Proper lighting allows you to extend the use of your patio, walkway or driveway long after the sun goes down. With the right lighting design, you can create an inviting ambiance for evening gatherings, highlight architectural features, illuminate pathways, and add safety.
When planning your paver lighting, it's important to think about the overall goal and mood you want to achieve. Do you want to create a soft glow for evening dinners under string lights? Or are you looking to make a bold statement with grazing spotlights on a wall? Determining your lighting goals and themes early on will help narrow down your design options.
Here are some creative paver lighting ideas to stylishly illuminate your hardscape.
Uplighting for Dramatic Effect
Uplighting cast from below creates dramatic shadows and elegantly highlights architectural features. Recessed canopy lighting or small spotlights can be installed between pavers or on steps to create an uplight effect. For open patio areas, miniature 2-3 watt LED spotlights with wide beam angles work well to uplight trees, walls and other features.
Aim the spotlights at a sharp upward angle and position them close to the base of the object you want to illuminate. Uplighting adds depth and dimension to flat hardscape surfaces by creating shadows and contours that are not visible in daylight.
You can uplight specific landscape features, like ornamental grasses, textured walls and towering trees, to make them stand out at night. For cozy seating areas, aim uplighting directly on dining tables or chairs to distinguish and illuminate the space. Uplighting along the house can showcase interesting architectural details like textured stucco, decorative tilework or faux finishes.
Silhouette and Grazing Lighting
Positioning lighting at a very sharp, almost horizontal, angle to graze across the surface of pavers creates bold shadows and outlines. Grazing illumination strongly accents the texture of materials and dimensional changes. It brings an artistic flair that can make a statement.
You can mount compact, adjustable floodlights in trees or on garden structures to graze lighting across pavers. Use floodlights with intensities between 300-500 lumens. For a consistent look, install the lights at regular intervals spaced 5-7 feet apart. Keep lights closer together near steps or circulation areas to brightly light the way. The strong sideways light casts defined shadows and dimensions.
In-ground Well Lights
Disk-shaped, recessed well lights sit flush between pavers to provide the soft, ambient lighting that appears to come from within the pavers. This creates a magical twinkling effect at night, like stars peeking through the ground. Well lights work especially well for open patio areas and pathways.
Mixing well light colors, such as white, blue and amber, adds visual interest. The 2-3 watt LED lights literally disappear into the scenery during the day. At night, they provide a very soft glow that's ideal for creating a relaxing atmosphere. Well lights work well on their own or combined with another low-voltage lighting like spotlights.
Linear Lighting for Definition
Linear lighting comes from continuous, elongated fixtures to create unifying illumination. Linear lights can be mounted on steps, walls, railings, curbs or other structures. This lighting style visually defines the hardscape layout by outlining the fixtures.
For example, low-profile LED tape lighting mounted under the lip of each step riser provides even, subtle illumination so visitors can navigate stairs and slopes confidently. Handrails can also be mounted on uplit posts for added safety and flair.
For pedestrian pathways, short 12-18 inch bollard lights along the route cast a helpful glow to light the way. To illuminate a larger path or gathering area, add waist-high post lanterns or path lights at intervals along the edges. Use uplighting adjacent to pathways to add drama while the linear lighting offers helpful guidance.
Hardscape Accent Lighting
Strategically placed accent lights focus attention on architectural elements, ornamental structures and attractive hardscape finishes. For example, install recessed or protruding bullet spotlights to highlight mosaic tile patterns, decorative stonework, or artistic paver shapes and textures. Accent lighting draws the eye to special features and design details that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Landscape lighting aimed at water features, artwork, ornamental bridges and pergolas enhances the designs and finishes. Accent lighting adds depth and dimension to an overall lighting design. Mix and match accent lights with other lighting techniques to create a layered look.
Step and Pathway Illumination
Outdoor steps and pathways need sufficient lighting to safely guide visitors at night. While practical lighting is a must, it also presents an opportunity to add beauty to your landscape.
Low-voltage, cool white LED step lights installed on risers or recessed into side walls provide even, subtle illumination so visitors can navigate steps and slopes confidently. For added safety, handrails can be mounted on uplit posts that also improve visibility.
For pedestrian pathways, short 12-18 inch bollard lights along the route cast a helpful glow. To illuminate a larger path or gathering area, add waist-high post lanterns or path lights at intervals along the edges. Use uplighting adjacent to pathways to add drama, while the low-level lighting offers helpful guidance. The goal is to make walkways both safer and more elegant for nighttime use.
Paver Color Enhancement
The color of paver choices can set the tone for an entire hardscape design. Creative lighting can emphasize the paver colors in dramatic ways. Uplighting brings out the texture and colors of pavers, masonry and concrete finishes. Combining 3000K warm white and colored LED lights near the pavers highlights the shapes, patterns and colors.
With naturally colored glass, translucent resin or rock pavers, fiber optic lighting lets you change the color of the glow. The light emissions shine through the material to create brilliant hues you can control with a DMX controller. Colored glass or resin combined with color-changing LEDs offers unlimited creative possibilities to enhance your design.
Romantic Dining Areas
Outdoor lighting completely transforms a simple patio into an inviting space for evening dinners and entertaining. String lights crisscrossed above the dining space provide a canopy of illumination. Flickering flameless candles on the table add an intimate ambiance when entertaining guests. For restaurants, bistros and hospitality venues, creative lighting design is key to establishing an inviting atmosphere.
Miniature string lights fill large outdoor umbrellas to cast a warm glow over the table below. Use uplighting in trees and shrubs around the dining space for added beauty. The goal is to create a comfortable oasis during evening hours for dining and socializing under the stars. Proper lighting transforms an ordinary patio into a magical dining experience.
Driveway Safety and Visibility
Being able to safely navigate in and out of your driveway at night is essential. Well-placed lighting improves visibility and provides security. Vintage post lanterns lined along the driveway cast light where you need it most. For long driveways, low-level path lighting every 10-15 feet provides continuous illumination along the sides.
Solar-powered, motion-activated flood lights are an eco-friendly option for greater visibility on rural driveways. All driveway lights should use low-glare light sources to avoid blinding drivers or neighbors. With the right driveway lighting, you can navigate safely at all hours.
Security Lighting for Safety
Outdoor lighting acts as a visual security system to make you feel safe and deter unwanted visitors. Place lights strategically around entries, pathways, parking areas and other vulnerable spots. Motion sensor flood lights automatically turn on when activity is detected to startle intruders.
Use adequate 1200-1800 lumen lighting around exterior doors, garage doors and access points to eliminate shadowy hiding spots. Bright lighting removes dark pockets and improves visibility all around the property. Accent lights can highlight house numbers for easier emergency identification. Security lighting brings peace of mind by making your landscape a less desirable target for crimes of opportunity.
Smart Lighting Tech and Automation
Today's outdoor lighting systems integrate wireless technology for automated intelligent control and scheduling. Smart lighting hubs and apps allow you to customize lighting scenes for different moods and functions. Preset lighting schemes for evening dinners, midnight garden strolls or holiday parties make illuminating your pavers high-tech yet easy.
With smart lighting, you can dim and brighten as needed at the touch of a button or using voice commands. Self-learning timer and motion sensors automatically turn lights on and off based on activity and preferences. Advanced control systems let you change colors, effects, intensities and more to customize the lighting. Creative combinations of smart lighting effects can make a big impact.
Energy-Efficient LED Lighting
LED technology transforms outdoor lighting with incredible advantages over traditional halogen and incandescent bulbs. LED lights last up to 50,000 hours before needing replacement compared to 1,000 hours for incandescent bulbs. LEDs withstand harsh weather, operate safely on low voltage and use up to 90% less energy.
LED color temperatures let you set any mood from warm white to daylight. And dimmable LED lighting allows you to control the ambiance from 0-100%. The energy efficiency and extreme longevity of LEDs save money on energy and replacement costs while benefiting the planet.
Solar Lighting Options
Harnessing solar energy provides a renewable way to power outdoor lighting. Compact solar-powered spotlights, bollards and post lanterns are widely available. Many solar lights today provide 5-8 hours of gentle illumination all night by passively charging under sunlight during the day.
Solar lighting is easy to install anywhere without wiring. Position solar spotlights to quietly accent plants, light walkways, and highlight steps. The technology is economical and eco-friendly. And there are no electrical bills associated with solar lights. It's a smart choice that's good for your wallet and the environment.
Create a Lighting Masterpiece
Outdoor lighting possibilities are unlimited. With the right lighting fixtures and a thoughtful concept, you can transform your pavers into stunning nighttime showpieces. Mix varying intensities, color temperatures and styles of lighting to create depth. Consider how the space will be used after dark and create a versatile lighting design to accommodate those functions.
Before installing permanent lighting, experiment with portable fixtures and angles. Adjust and reposition lights to preview effects and iron out the design. Factor in light placement, angles and perspective when deciding on your creative vision. With artful lighting, your pavers will not just be functional hardscape but a decorative element you can enjoy well into the evening.
So be bold and imaginative with your paver lighting ideas. During the day, the discrete lights disappear into the surroundings. But at night, with the flip of a switch, your custom lighting design will cast your pavers in an entirely new light. With strategic illumination, you can amplify beauty, enhance safety and extend the enjoyment of your patio, walkway or driveway long after sunset. The possibilities are endless when you incorporate creative lighting into your paver hardscape.