Understanding How to Uplight Trees in Your Landscape

Once darkness creeps in, your yard may look a bit spooky. Thankfully, all it takes is a little creative landscape lighting to turn that spookiness into ambiance—namely, tree uplighting. In darkness, trees are imposing and lugubrious; well-lit, they’re beautiful features that give your landscape depth.

Achieving a beautiful landscape after dark isn’t only about lighting your trees; it’s about how you light them. There are certain ways to uplight your trees, as well as specific fixtures used for this type of landscape lighting. Identifying both the method and the means will give you an idea of where to start on your outdoor lighting endeavor. Here’s what you need to know.

Tree uplighting 101

There’s more to uplighting trees than you might realize. Distance from the base of the tree, the brightness of the light, and even the angle of your uplighting all play a role in how the tree looks after dark. It takes a little trial and error to figure out, but execution is simple enough once you understand all the variables involved. Here are some tips to keep in mind when uplighting a tree:

  • Place the fixture at the base of the tree’s trunk and shine it up towards the tree to capture the beautiful branches, leaves and blooms above.
  • Make sure the fixture is inconspicuous and that the light is an accent for the tree, not a feature by itself. Prominent fixtures can draw attention away from the tree.
  • You want a soft, subtle glow that’s natural and provides ambiance, rather than a bright, menacing light that may be more of an annoyance.
  • Direct the glow of the light towards the tree’s branches and not across the lawn. This ensures a dramatic effect that complements both the yard and the tree.

With these tips in mind, don’t be afraid to experiment! Change the position of your outdoor lighting fixtures, turn the intensity up or down, or fiddle with the warmness/coolness of the light. Small changes can result in stark improvements.

Tree and shrub uplighting with the right fixtures

There’s no shortage of outdoor tree uplights to choose from—but that doesn’t mean any old outdoor light will do! Keep in mind that choosing lights that are too bright or bulky can be a problem when it comes to creating a soft glow. This concept extends to all types of foliage, including trees, shrubs, bushes and ground-level plants like flowers.

Regardless of what features you illuminate or which outdoor lighting fixture you cast light with, pay attention to specifications. Purchase the right-sized transformer to properly power lights when the sun goes down.

Consider up/downlighting packages

We make it easy to bring strategic uplighting and downlighting solutions to your property—particularly for your trees and shrubs. Take a look at our convenient packages, which include absolutely everything you need to call out tree and shrub features with the perfect amount of illumination:

  • The Uplighter: This package is great as an addition to an already-lit home, or for homes in an area with a lot of big beautiful trees that deserve to be showcased. This packages is available with 6, 10 or 12 lights, making it easy to spread beautiful uplighting across your property.
  • The Downlighter: This package not only contains everything you need to cast beautiful downlighting illumination, it also includes tree-mount accessories specifically for your greenery! Each lighting fastener is adjustable, able to scale up as your tree grows larger for consistent downlighting opportunities.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to landscape lighting—especially when it comes to trees. These packages, as well as the standalone lighting options listed above, allow every homeowner to create the ideal lighting scene for their trees and shrubs. When customization is key, these packages make it simple and straightforward to light your greenery, with results that absolutely glow.

Residential uplighting beyond trees

As mentioned, trees are one of the many features on your landscape worthy of illumination. Residential property owners also benefit from bringing this same uplighting to bushes, shrubs and other greenery. Done right, landscape lighting adds depth, dimension and a touch of personalization to your landscape.

Imagine sitting outside and relaxing while gentle uplighting shines through the trees and brings a glow to your patio, or the uplighting from bushes casts light on your walking path. A few strategically-placed lights will leave your landscape looking naturally serene! More than that, you’ll also shed light in a practical way.

Uplighting for trees and general landscape lighting for greenery do more than set the mood. They deter trespassing, keep you safe from accidents and bring you peace of mind by dispelling the darkness. A few strategic lights for perimeter bushes, featured trees or ground level plants (with wall washing) turn your property into a bastion of comfort and safety when the sun goes down.

Commercial uplighting touts practicality

Commercial properties play by a different set of rules when it comes to tree uplighting and landscape lighting for other foliage. The goal isn’t so much soft ambiance as it is attention-grabbing practicality. While tact is still important, what matters more is that people see your message.

Consider a retaining wall with the company name on it or signage installed next to a clump of trees. Without proper lighting, passersby might glaze over the landscape. Bathe the retaining wall in light or illuminate the trees nearby and suddenly, you’ve given people a reason to look! It’s the same for something like an access drive or perimeter bushes—gentle uplighting shows people the way.

There’s also size and depth to consider. Commercial properties are typically larger than residential ones. Wall washing a facility and bringing depth to landscape features helps show people the immensity of a business’ property. The benefits of proper outdoor lighting are numerous—from added security, to improved appeal, to brand awareness and more.

Start with trees, then expand your uplighting

One of the simplest ways to make a big impression on any property is to add outdoor tree uplights. They have an immediate impact as soon as the sun goes down. But don’t stop there! Uplighting has practical applications across your property—from bushes and shrubs, to retaining walls and statues. Proper lighting for various features results in a landscape that looks, feels and is complete.

Our experts here at TouchStone Accent Lighting will provide comprehensive answers to all your landscape uplighting questions. Not only can we recommend the right lighting for you, we give you tips and tricks on how to install fixtures and uplight properly, so you get the results you’re looking for.

At TouchStone, we recommend our flood lighting products, which span everything from mini focused flood lights to wide and maximum flood lighting options. Here’s a quick rundown of some ideal use-cases for seven of our most versatile uplighting products:

Mini Flood Series lights are perfect for ornamental trees and sculptures. These compact fixtures offer unobtrusive design, while powerful LED lamps and interchangeable 30-degree spot or 60-degree flood lenses provide variable illumination on-demand.
Small Flood Series lights are great for small bushes and shrubbery. Make use of narrow to flood-pattern beam widths, LEDs and a choice of 3-, 5- or 7-watt bulbs to customize and maximize desired lighting effects.
iFlood Series lights are great for medium-to-large trees and signage. An integrated 10-watt color change bulb and 40-degree angle beam deliver broad optionality for lighting features that are both tall and wide.
Brass Flood Series lights are ideal for large trees and wall washing. Featuring an extremely resilient brass patina and can utilize interchangeable LEDs or halogen bulbs for maximum effect.
ParFlood Series lights illuminate large trees or tree clusters. Utilizing a 10-100% dimming scale for precision lighting, it’s a premium choice for strategic lighting. Compact design blends seamlessly into the landscape.
Wide Flood Series lights are perfect for wall washing and signage accents. 120-degree spread and a choice of 3-, 5- or 7-watt bulbs cast light in wide swaths, perfect for bathing flat surfaces in gentle light.
Max Flood Series lights highlight your biggest landscape features, like signage. Powerful 10- or 17-watt options, as well as a 10-watt RGBW, and 38- or 60-degree light distribution ensure large coverages.